Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Melbourne icon-chevron-right A local's guide to Camberwell

Heads up! We’re working hard to be accurate – but these are unusual times, so please always check before heading out.

The Baker's Wife interior cafe Camberwell
Photograph: The Baker's Wife/Kaitlyn Wilton

A local's guide to Camberwell

Check out the best things to eat, drink and do in the Melbourne suburb of Camberwell

By Eleanor Scott
Advertising

Comfortably settled between buzzy Hawthorn and vibrant Box Hill is the effortlessly chic suburb of Camberwell. It’s home to the Art Deco Rivoli Cinema, which was voted one of the world’s best cinemas, as well as many wonderful cafés, restaurants and markets. Quaint period homes and lush greenery line the notoriously charming streets. 

Jump to a section:

What’s Camberwell known for?

Camberwell Junction is the heart of the area. Filled with bustling shops and eateries, it also plays host to the famous Camberwell Sunday Market, the Camberwell Fresh Food Market and the long-standing Art Deco Rivoli Cinemas. Elsewhere in various pockets of the suburb, you'll find a selection of community favourite cafés and restaurants, small shopping strips, leafy streets and enchanting houses.

Why do the locals love it?

There’s a friendliness and familiarity to the area that makes you feel at home even if it’s your first visit. It also happens to boast a significant collection of the best cafés in Melbourne.

We asked one of the Camberwell Sunday Market organisers, David McFadyen from the Rotary Club of Balwyn, for a few of his area recommendations – so be on the lookout for those throughout this story.

How do I get to Camberwell?

Camberwell Junction, the main entertainment district of the suburb, is served by an abundance of public transport and plenty of parking space. Camberwell Station is right in the thick of things, and you can also rely on the number 70 tram to take you along Riversdale Road, the 75 tram along Toorak Road and the 72 tram along Burke Road. East Camberwell and Riversdale stations serve those going a little further. 

What’s nearby?

Bustling Hawthorn and Glenferrie are back towards the city, while Canterbury Gardens and Box Hill Central shopping centre are further east. 

Map of Camberwell

If you only do one thing…

Watch a flick at the beautiful art deco Rivoli Cinemas, making sure to first enjoy a glass of bubbly at the rooftop bar.

Hibiki Camberwell
Hibiki Camberwell
Photograph: Supplied/Hibiki

Eat

Japanese-style brunch spot Hibiki (1161 Toorak Rd) is one of Melbourne’s true treasures. Set on the eastern edge of the suburb, the effortlessly chic diner is the handiwork of Reiji Honour. The crunchy okonomiyaki – based on his mother’s recipe – is a must-try, as is the crowd favourite Middle Meets East dish featuring poached eggs with potato corn parmesan korokke, soysage shichimi butter, toasted seeds, fried leek and dried cranberries on sourdough.

Baked goods are the star of the show at the Baker’s Wife (414-418 Burke Rd). Drop by just before the lunch rush for one of the team's daily sandwiches served on the type of bread that would satisfy your taste buds even if it had nothing on it. If you have time to sit, do. Try the French toast made with challah bread and the flatbread eggs with lemon and cumin butter. 

Across from Camberwell Station, Boss Pizzeria (25 Cookson St) offers up arguably the best woodfired slices in Melbourne’s east. Chefs Daniel Barrese and Johnny Logue have over 40 years of pizza-making experience between them and it shows through their light and airy pizza doughs topped with the best local and imported Italian ingredients.

If you’re after the area’s best dumplings then there is simply no place to go other than Tao Dumplings (1 Evans Pl). The food is fresh and inexpensive – try the laksa, it's an unexpected menu highlight. Be warned, the restaurant is always packed so book ahead if you can and don’t forget to take advantage of the generous BYO wine policy.

Judging the quality of an Italian restaurant by its gnocchi is not a new practice, yet even the most seasoned of foodies will find themselves impressed by the soft and plump bites paired with lamb ragu at Con Noi Italian Trattoria (259 Camberwell Rd). The motto on their menu reads “life is a combination of magic and pasta” and that certainly holds true within the exposed-brick walls of this cosy establishment. 

Ready for a feast? Look no further than Greek restaurant Meraki (722 Burke Rd) at the top end of the junction. Go there for the mixed grill, stay for the ambience and return for the galaktoboureko dessert.

Last but not least, for those that love a simple but scrumptious chicken and chips, David McFadyen says that “Chargrill Charlie's (10 Prospect Hill Rd) is very good indeed”.

↑ Back to top

Interior Rosalita's bar Camberwell
Interior Rosalita's bar Camberwell
Photograph: Supplied/Rosalita's

Drink

Bar None (72 Auburn Pde) has long been one of the best speakeasies in town. Homey couches and dim lighting set an intimate tone that is often accentuated by the sounds of softly clinking glasses and low chatter. Cocktails are the venue’s main drawcard with over 300 spirits on offer behind the bar – but take a seat when you arrive, it’s table service and the waiters really know what they’re talking about.

While Bar None is behind an unmarked door and down a set of stairs, East of Everything (3/72 Auburn Pde) is behind the same unmarked door but up a set of stairs and past a few empty kegs. Beer is the number one draw here, with 12 rotating brews on tap and a great selection of local bottles, too. The balcony has a lovely view of the city and the po'boys on the Southern-style menu are a pretty good shout as well.

Rosalita’s Bar & Liquor Store (2/72 Auburn Pde, Hawthorn East) is owned by the same people as the two spots above, named for the Bruce Springsteen song, and its theme is best expressed through the lyrics, “I ain’t here on business, baby, I’m only here for fun” – classic youngest child syndrome really. Armed with neon signage, a jukebox, a pool table, and a Miami-inspired laneway bar shared with its two predecessors, Rosalita’s is the life of the party. 

Considering the area’s reputation as a dry neighbourhood, it should come as no surprise that the secretive bar theme continues within other watering holes in the suburb. Prohibition Food and Wine’s (1395 Toorak Rd) cocktail list promises giggle juice that’ll “get things swinging” and it's not a lie. The venue also has a great selection of food, including Peking duck tacos, deep-fried baby barramundi, and a coconut and pandan semifreddo with pineapple and candied chilli.

↑ Back to top

Advertising
Fordhams Milk Bar
Fordhams Milk Bar
Photograph: Supplied/Fordhams Milk Bar

Coffee

Our Little Secret (722 Riversdale Rd) is aptly named. The low-key cafe amid the small selection of Middle Camberwell shops started off small before buying the space next door and expanding both horizons and floor space. But somehow it still flies under the radar. The coffee here never disappoints, and the service is extra friendly, too.

Once the oldest standing milkbar in Melbourne, Milkboy on Fordham's (116 Fordham Ave) is a wonderful combination of kitsch and class. One side still stands as a retro corner shop from which you can buy candies and cartons of milk, while the other half is a popular café decked out in vintage-style decor and serving all the usual brunch suspects, plus great coffee to boot.

Collective Espresso & Kitchen (1/3 Cookson St) might not be physically large but it certainly has a big presence. The much-loved establishment is the perfect balance of substance and style with its trendy minimalist fit-out, smooth single-origin coffees and tasty selection of toasties. Their outside section is dog-friendly, too. 

Nigel (691 Burke Rd) is another one of the area's small giants. Owner Daniel Dick is the former head barista of coffee institution St Ali and has brought those coffee blends and single origins to his own establishment. Quality coffee guaranteed. 

Keen for sweets with your hot brew? David McFadyen recommends visiting Laurent Bakery (610-612 Burke Rd) for excellent cakes followed by My Other Brother (586 Burke Rd) for top-notch coffee. Luckily they’re only a few doors down from each other.

↑ Back to top

Woodfrog Bakery Camberwell
Woodfrog Bakery Camberwell
Photograph: Supplied/Woodfrog Bakery

Shopping

The Camberwell Sunday Market (Market Pl) is one of Melbourne’s most popular antique, handmade and vintage markets. Started in 1976 by Balwyn Rotary, it has become a distinct part of the social fabric of the area and you’ll often see locals and stallholders greeting each other like friends and family – probably because they are. Aside from all the wonderful treasures you can find among the 370 stalls, the community event also funds a wide range of charities and has raised over $18 million for community and humanitarian causes since its inception.

For fruits and vegetables, Camberwell Fresh Food Market (519-523 Riversdale Rd) is open from Tuesday to Saturday and has a wide selection of seafood and meat available, too.

Monaco's Continental Delicatessen & Food Store (525 Camberwell Rd) has all the antipasto, cured meats and speciality cheeses you could ask for, as well as coffee if you find yourself in the mood while you’re browsing their selection of European goods.

If you’re after great bread then David McFadyen says "Woodfrog Bakery (Rear, 572 Burke Rd) is certainly the place to go." The cult favourite always has a fantastic selection of sourdough, speciality bread and pastries on offer, but make sure you get in quick as they can sell out fast. 

He also highly recommends Dymocks (Camberwell Place, shop 110B, level 1/793 Burke Rd) bookstore for their "great staff and friendly service."

↑ Back to top

Advertising
Rivoli Cinemas Camberwell
Rivoli Cinemas Camberwell
Photograph: Creative Commons

Things to do

Cinephiles will likely already have paid a visit to the Rivoli Cinemas (200 Camberwell Rd, Hawthorn East). Built in 1940, the building's original architecture mixes art deco, modern and jazz style has been preserved over the decades, making for a stylish movie-going experience. Before you enjoy your movie, make sure to pay a visit to the rooftop bar for a tipple.

Founded in the 1970s by mostly female volunteers during a period of social change, the Camberwell Community Centre (519 Riversdale Rd) has always been committed to fostering an informal and community focused space for skill sharing. Take an adult art class in anything from pottery and drawing to painting techniques including watercolours and pastels, or learn a new language like French, German or Spanish.

↑ Back to top

Mark your calendars

The Camberwell Sunday Market’s New Year’s Eve market day is always a fun way to celebrate the end of the year. Also, if you haven’t got your outfit sorted for whatever big plans you have for the night ahead you’ll certainly be able to find something suitably fun and funky here.

Check out more of Melbourne's suburbs

Love Local Time Out
Photograph: Time Out

Love Local

Support your local neighbourhood with our selection of area guides around Melbourne.

Recommended

    You may also like

      Advertising