Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Melbourne icon-chevron-right A local's guide to Elsternwick
Classic Cinema1/7
Photograph: Parker Blain
Will's Batch Ice Cream2/7
Photograph: Parker Blain
Antique Bar3/7
Photograph: Parker Blain
Pasta at 48h pizza e gnocchi bar4/7
Photograph: Parker Blain
Aviv Bakery5/7
Photograph: Parker Blain
Avenue Bookstore6/7
Photograph: Parker Blain
Classic Cinema7/7
Photograph: Parker Blain

A local's guide to Elsternwick

Discover fun things to do, brilliant bars and restaurants for all budgets with our insider guide to Elsternwick

By Cassidy Knowlton
Advertising

During isolation...

A lot of the great businesses in Elsternwick can't trade as normal at the moment, so be sure you support them however you can. Many offer takeaway or have online shops, and you can help them survive the strange times we are living in.

Nestled between St Kilda and Caulfield is the thriving suburb of Elsternwick. It is one of Melbourne’s older suburbs – Elsternwick Post Office opened in 1860, four decades before Federation. Today, Elsternwick is home to numerous cafés, restaurants and bars, as well as one of Melbourne’s oldest and most beloved cinemas. It has a rich and diverse history and is home to many members of Melbourne’s extensive Jewish community.

The ABC had its Melbourne headquarters in Elsternwick from the 1950s until the Southbank building opened in 2017. 

 Jump to a section:

What's Elsternwick known for?

Whether you are after great eats, a night out in an elegant and dimly lit bar, a historical tour of a grand, 19th-century mansion or a film at a Victorian-era cinema, Elsternwick and neighbouring Ripponlea are great places to find yourself. The main shopping area of Elsternwick is Glen Huntly Road, with Glen Eira Road a secondary shopping strip. Glen Huntly Road is where you'll find numerous Jewish food outlets, such as delis and bakeries, as well as plenty of restaurants and clothing and homewares shops. 

Why do the locals love it?

We talked to Rapha Tamir, the marketing manager of Elsternwick's gorgeous Classic Cinemas (his parents bought the venue in 1997). He grew up in the area and still lives just a ten-minute walk from the picture house. "I am Jewish, and one of the things that I loved growing up in Glen Huntly Road is the community feel," he says. 

How do I get to Elsternwick? 

The suburb is well served by train (Elsternwick or Ripponlea station on the Sandringham line) and tram (the 67 travels along Elsternwick’s main street, Glenhuntly Road).

What's nearby?

Cross over the Nepean Highway, and you'll find yourself in leafy Elwood, which stretches to Port Phillip Bay. Head northwest and you'll find yourself in party town St Kilda (yes, with the penguins). 

Map of Elsternwick

If you only do one thing

Catch a movie under the stars during the summer on the roof of the Classic Cinemas, or out on the lawn at Rippon Lea Estate's Barefoot Cinema.  

 

Pasta at 48h pizza e gnocchi bar
Pasta at 48h pizza e gnocchi bar
Photograph: Parker Blain

Eat

Perhaps Melbourne's most famous fine diner, Attica (74 Glen Eira Rd) can be found in Ripponlea. We gave it five stars, and so does everybody else. If you've got cash to splash, this is where to splash it on a modern Australian degustation that will be among the best meals of the year, we promise.

Duck into Hanoi Hannah (306 Glen Huntly Rd) for Hawker-style Vietnamese food like chicken and beef pho, vermicelli salads and takeaway-friendly freshly made rice paper rolls. 

Bang Bang at the Rifle Club (294 Glen Huntly Roadoffers Thai, but it’s really more Thai-ish, serving up congee as well as eggs on toast for breakfast, mussel omelettes and soft shell crab bao for lunch and a whole heap of crowd-pleasing shareables for dinner. It's on the higher end, price-wise. 

Rapha Tamir of the Classic Cinema loves Panda Mama (289 Glen Huntly Rd) for lunch, and he recommends the fried rice and the prawn dumplings.

For dinner, Tamir recommends Yuchu (404 Glen Huntly Rd), which he says has the best Chinese food in the area. Yuchu specialises in Cantonese-style roast meats, but also offers twists on traditional dishes like Marmite chicken ribs).

Ripponlea Food and Wine (15 Glen Eira Rd) serves up a simple modern Australian menu, with dishes like linguini carbonara and confit duck. 

Looking for fresh Greek and Mediterranean food? Mediterranean Greek Tavern (511 Glen Huntly Rd) is a popular spot with locals for things like grilled meats and fish and market-fresh vegetables.

For a taste of Mother Russia, pay a visit to Nevsky (476 Glen Huntly Rd), which offers banquets as well as a la carte options like blinis with caviar (salmon or sturgeon, thank you), cured meats, soups, slow-cooked meats and dumplings.

In the mood for pizza? Of course you are. 48h Pizza e Gnocchi Bar (15 Gordon St) is another of Tamir's favourites, and it just happened to be named Australia's best pizza at the Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza (World Pizza Championships) in Parma, Italy. 

Across the road, you'll find Etto Pasta Bar (267 Glen Huntly Rd), where you can mix and match pasta sauces, bases and toppings. 

For something sweet, grab an ice cream from Will's Batch (300 Glen Huntly Rd), which offers more than 50 flavours, made in house.

Craving sushi or don? Tokyo Deli/Ramen Monk (407 Glen Huntly Rd) is brilliant for your Japanese favourites, and you can also pick up Japanese pantry basics to try your hand at home.  

↑ Back to top

Making cocktails at Antique Bar
Making cocktails at Antique Bar
Photograph: Parker Blain

Drink

If you're after brilliant Polish food and a vodka menu longer than you could ever hope to conquer (trust us on this one), stop into After the Tears (9b Gordon St), which is one of Rapha Tamir's favourite watering holes. There are plenty of inventive cocktails, as well as local and European wines by the bottle and pages and pages of different vodkas. Twoje zdrowie!

Tamir also loves Antique Bar (218 Glen Huntly Rd), and so do we. The cosy bar has delicious cocktails, plenty of craft beers and a very comfortable ambience, with quirky, mismatched furniture and very flattering lighting. 

If you're after a brightly lit pub with a good-sized outdoor area, head to Goat House (272 Glen Huntly Rd). It serves pub classics like lamb roast and burgers, as well as refreshing beers. 

Umbrella Lounge (338-340 Glen Huntly Rd) is a Georgian restaurant and bar, with live music Thursday through Saturday, during normal times. There's a cute beer garden out the back, too. 

↑ Back to top

Advertising
Outside of Little Monk Coffee
Outside of Little Monk Coffee
Photograph: Parker Blain

Coffee

Rapha Tamir from the Classic rates the coffee at One Square Espresso Bar (272 Glen Huntly Rd) as the best in the area. Make it a complete breakfast with a fancy doughnut, made by Doughboys.

There's usually a queue for coffee outside the takeaway window at Savion (475-479 Glen Huntly Rd), which also does bagels, pastries, soups and sandwiches. 

Bad Liar (2/242 Glen Huntly Rd) offers gooey toasted sandwiches, breakfast favourites, gozleme brought in from famous South Melbourne joint Koy, and of course, coffee.

Part restaurant, part café, part jazz club, Umbrella Lounge Bar (338-340 Glen Huntly Rd) also does coffee during the day. 

Rustica Café (362 Glen Huntly Rd) has European and kosher delights like cured meats, cheeses, pasta, biscotti and other European products as well as coffee to have there or take away.  

Enjoy your coffee in the beer garden, restaurant or takeaway at Edna's Place (390 Glen Huntly Rd), which offers breakfast delights (there's a section for 'Hollandaise dishes', which we approve of) and standard café fare.

↑ Back to top

Classic Cinema
Classic Cinema
Photograph: Parker Blain

Things to do

Movie buffs will already be familiar with Elsternwick's Classic Cinemas (9 Gordon St). The building was built in 1889 and opened as a theatre in 1911, and it's been an important part of the Elsternwick community for more than a century. Catch an arthouse, foreign or major Hollywood blockbuster film on one of the Classic’s ten screens, and enjoy sweet and savoury refreshments like olives, bao, edamame, beer, wine and hand-made choc tops in flavours like rocky road and salted caramel. In the summer the cinema runs a special outdoor program on its rooftop

While cinemas are closed, the Classic has created a digital streaming service, Classic at Home, which offers a selection of movies specially curated by Classic staff for rental or purchase. Rapha Tamir, the Classic's marketing and business development manager, says customers have really responded to the program. "During the first lockdown we were shocked," he says. "It’d never been shut down before like this. We were taken aback and we initially were a bit shocked and did nothing, and then we got to work and started the Isolation Film Festival. We then got into the streaming game... Customers are really responding well to it. They trust us to program films in the cinema for them, and they’re doing the same now."

The Classic isn't the only historically important attraction in the area. Rippon Lea Estate (192 Hotham St) was built in 1868 and now has 33 rooms. The mansion and gardens are open for tours (excepting during lockdown, of course), and there are also touring and permanent exhibitions in the mansion. Glen Eira and Port Phillip residents can enjoy the gardens for free. The property also includes a very popular tea room. During the summer the Barefoot Cinema sets up a giant screen on the lawn for screenings of popular classic and new-release films.

The Jewish Holocaust Centre (13-15 Selwyn St) is a museum and memorial dedicated to the memory of those murdered during the Holocaust. Virtual tours and online discussions are available during lockdown. 

Hopetoun Gardens is a small park in Glen Huntly Rd with a colourful playground for little ones to play. 

↑ Back to top

Advertising
Pastry at Aviv Bakery
Pastry at Aviv Bakery
Photograph: Parker Blain

Shopping

Ask anyone in Elsternwick worth their salt bagel, and they'll point you towards Aviv (412 Glen Huntly Rd) for baked goods of all kinds. The bagels, borek and challah are legendary (and they sell out fast!), but the sweets, cakes and pastries are also worth your dough. It's one of Tamir's favourite – and one of ours too.

While we're on the subject of baked goods, cult favourite bakery Woodfrog (431 Glen Huntly Rd) has an outlet in Elsternwick, too. Woodfrog puts an enormous amount of effort (and science!) into perfecting sourdough bread, so if your iso hobby has ended up in the bin, just leave it to the professionals.

There's a reason Trialto Meats (397 Glen Huntly Rd) has been in business for 28 years. The butcher shop offers prime cuts of meat from fowl to beef to gourmet sausages, and friendly and knowledgeable staff are always happy to accommodate special requests (like sourcing a whole turkey in November) and will even offer cooking tips on your purchases.

Not many suburbs still have independent bookstores, but Elsternwick is lucky enough to have Avenue Bookstore (434 Glen Huntly Rd), which stocks a wide range of local and imported titles, with a particular focus on fiction, children's books, and non-fiction books in areas ranging from food and wine to architecture and design. Kerbside pick-up and delivery are available. 

Looking for kosher products? Kosher Kingdom (482b Glen Huntly Rd) offers a wide variety of items, from nuts to cheeses to sushi and cold-pressed juices. 

Family-owned business Mercantile Home (307 Glen Huntly Rd) offers homewares and giftwares from around the world. The shop has an online store, with free shipping over $50. 

Calling all ski bums and snow bunnies: Bumps (481 Glen Huntly Rd) is the place to score all your winter gear. The shop offers everything from coats to snowboards to chains for tyres, so if you're heading to the snow, stop in here first.

↑ Back to top

Classic Cinema
Classic Cinema
Photograph: Parker Blain

Mark your calendar

Running in November each year, the Jewish International Film Festival is the largest film festival in Australia focusing on Israeli and Jewish-themed films. JIFF's home base is the Classic Cinemas in Elsternwick, which not only screens the programs but also offers special events, talks, gatherings and parties associated with the festival. For 2020, the festival moved online, with movies available to stream in your very own lounge room. 

↑ Back to top

Discover more of the city

Love Local
Image: Time Out

Love Local

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

Recommended

    You may also like

      Advertising