It can be tempting to skip eating before a show, but that's a rookie error. There’s nothing quite as embarrassing as your stomach growling during a particularly silent scene, or being too hungry to appreciate your favourite band. And there’s nothing unusual about wanting to take the edge off your day before the show goes on. Save yourself the pain of having to buy plastic cups of beer or survive on box office peanuts: hit up one of these restaurants or bars before your next show.
Eat here: Right next door MoVida is the obvious choice, and for good reason. But it’s not unusual to find it packed, so if you forget to make a booking best look elsewhere for sustenance. A quick walk up to Flinders Lane reveals Chin Chin (if you can get in) and Meatball and Wine Bar. If you’re going the spaghetti-and-meatball route mind your clothes – the flick of a saucy pasta strand can be disastrous.
Eat here: Collins Street’s 'Paris end' might be beautiful, but it’s more boutiques than burgers. Think laterally: it’s only a five-minute walk from the Regent Theatre or Capitol Theatre to the Japanese-ish diner Supernormal. For those who don't fancy a walk Japanese Teppanyaki Inn is squished next to the Athenaeum and has been grilling meat, seafood and veg for more than 40 years.
Drink here: So long as you’re not with a big group of friends Bar Americano is the perfect stand-and-sip location.
Eat here: Before catching a gig at 170 Russell fuel up with a souva at Stalactites. Or get one afterwards – the restaurant and takeaway joint is open 24 hours. Down by Max Watts there's Meatmaiden for falling-off-the-bone tender meat, or go for dessert first with La Petite Crêperie just outside the venue and open until late.
Drink here: For quirky basement bar drinks head to Gin Palace. If you’d rather a pub atmosphere before the show then there’s the Crafty Squire. Or if you think the best alcohol comes from grapes head to Embla for a wine bar with a very tasty food menu.
Eat here: Whether you’re seeing something at Hamer Hall, State Theatre or Playhouse your best bet for eating at the Arts Centre is in-house. Many of the precinct’s restaurants like Fatto are happy to take note of your show time at booking so you’re in and out before curtain-up. But you can also make good time if you dine across the river at Arbory Bar and Eatery, where you can find some decent all-day grazing.
Drink here: For a craft beer within walking distance head to Hopscotch. You can also pre-order interval drinks the Arts Centre’s foyer bars.
Eat here: With both Princess Theatre and the Comedy Theatre grazing the edges of Chinatown, there’s no doubt you’ll be eating well before act one. Get your dumpling fix at HuTong (you can BYO!), or top Thai joint Longrain will run you through the full sweet-salty-sour-bitter-hot gauntlet. Underneath the Crossley Hotel you can also find down and dirty Mexican eats at Bodega Underground.
Drink here: If salt-rimmed Tecate cans and Margaritas aren’t your thing at Bodega, then might we suggest City Wine Shop up the road?
Eat here: Before you step inside St Kilda’s grand old dame of a theatre, have an equally fancy dinner first at Stokehouse or Donovans. Not even fire could destroy these St Kilda stalwarts, but if you don’t mind heading a little further away from the theatre, the pho, spring rolls and bahn mi at Uncle are well worth the short walk.
Drink here: Vineyard is perfect for a pre-show drink. Or a post-show drink, since it's open till 3am daily. Prefer pubs? Head to the Local Taphouse, one of only a handful of Melbourne pubs we’ve rated five stars.
Eat here: Within the triangle made by these three uber-cool live music venues there’s a bunch of places for a cheap and easy feed. For pizza so good you won’t even realise it’s vegan head to Red Sparrow Pizza or to Easey’s for burgers in a former train carriage five storeys in the sky.
Drink here: Head to Paradise Alley for a wine, beer, cocktail or round of pool in an effortlessly cool bar. Drop into Bar Liberty (the 2018 Time Out Bar of the Year) for a damn good glass of wine or head to Marquis of Lorne for a carry on post-gig.