Head up a nondescript stairwell and through scuffed, heavy doors and you’ll find yourself in one Fitzroy’s most atmospheric bars. It’s only a few floors up, but the Panama Dining Room feels miles from Smith Street. The space is like a vast loft, furnished with a hodgepodge of tables, lounges, bar stools and a three-quarter size pool table. Huge arched windows provide views of Fitzroy, Collingwood, and beyond to the CBD. The décor itself is stylish yet simple and low-key, which lets the view speak for itself.
This place is ideal for a wine with friends (their wine list is pleasingly extensive) or a quiet beer and a game of pool on a weeknight, but during the weekend you should expect to have to battle your way to the bar – this place can get busy. Come in early for a meal; chef Bryce Edwards serves up good European fare in the dining room, but you’ll need to book – it’s popular. If you’re only after a snack, there are solid offerings at the bar.