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The Catfish

  • Bars
  • Fitzroy
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended
  1. Photograph: Eamon Siggins
    Photograph: Eamon Siggins
  2. Photograph: Eamon Siggins
    Photograph: Eamon Siggins
  3. Photograph: Eamon Siggins
    Photograph: Eamon Siggins
  4. Photograph: Eamon Siggins
    Photograph: Eamon Siggins
  5. Photograph: Eamon Siggins
    Photograph: Eamon Siggins

Time Out Says

4 out of 5 stars

The cosiest beer bunker in town has music and hospitality in its DNA

In an age where revivals, renovations and glossy makeovers are making social climbers out of our bars and pubs, our love for the resistance grows, and nowhere do we love better for their rough edges than the Catfish in Fitzroy. It’s a rambling, weathered boozer that knows you care much more about what’s in your glass and what’s on the stage than whether or not the walls are millennial pink and if there’s a Montauk theme to the furnishings (there’s not, obviously). While the namesake bottom-feeder swims about happily in his converted TV aquarium you get to smash down a local, full flavoured red IPA from Stomping Ground or a nutty, malty, brown ale from Bad Shepherd.

Get crazy and order the Watermelon Warhead from Feral, and fill in the edges with Philly cheesesteaks from Sparrow’s the kitchen in the heart of the building. The torpedo rolls packed with strips of sirloin, covered in cheese will give you strength for the gig in the upstairs bandroom you’re waiting to see. Live music – much of it free – rocks the Catfish as often as four times a week, and local DJs from PBS bring the funk, soul and rock every Thursday night. Crowds pack the bandroom every Tuesday for one of the hottest comedy nights in town, where the likes of Nick Cody and Fiona O’Loughlin try out brand new material for a cool $12 (best enjoyed with a $7 pint of Young Henrys lager).

Nothing on the wine list cracks a fifty, which means you can stay all night without heading into the red, but if you want something in the bottle you should consider splitting something from the beer fridge instead.  They’ve got a collection of super-hopped IPAs just waiting to lift off with your tastebuds on board; a European coffee and fig oatmeal stout from New Zealand; and even gluten free beers, because coeliacs just want to have fun. This is exactly the kind of place you want to roll in after clocking off for beers, banter and no worries that your black band shirt might not be appropriate attire. You don’t want things to be perfect when you’re talking about rock’n’roll, or great neighbourhood bars – they are both at their best when they’re a bit rough and ready, and a little cocky and boozy, just like the Catfish

Rose Johnstone
Written by
Rose Johnstone


30-32 Gertrude St
Opening hours:
Mon-Thu 3pm-1am; Fri, Sat noon-1am; Sun noon-11pm

What's On

Catfish Comedy

This comedy night takes place in the Catfish’s upper band room and hosts some of the best headliners and up-and-coming acts from Australia. It’s always a hot line-up, with about ten acts each night, and it’s seen its fair share of international drop-ins over the years. Catfish also wins best merch. Sure, they are the only comedy night with merch, but the shirts are so cool they would win anyway, and if you come to the show six times you get a free shirt. Catfish is home to Sparrows Philly Steaks Kitchen. They serve a famous beef, onion and cheese sandwich plus wings, plus fries, plus happiness. It’s Fitzroy, so they obviously have vegan alternatives too. Plus, there is an actual catfish in a TV aquarium. It’s weird, it’s wonderful and it’s worth every dollar.

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