The John Curtin Hotel feels a little out of place on Lygon Street’s city end. Though in closer proximity to the area’s mawkish, tourist-friendly Italian restaurants, it’s got much more in common with the likes of The B.East and Leonard's House of Love, farther afield.

The Curtin is a pub’s pub: casual, inexpensive and unashamedly dive-y in the best possible way. Clientele ranges from business types to musos and students, (RMIT University is metres away).There's a good beer turnover, with kegs of craft and staple brews rotating periodically. Solid ranges of wine, ciders and spirits are also available.

The Curtin is also one of Melbourne’s favourite live-music venues. Gig posters dating back decades line the walls. The upstairs bandroom – set up in a torus, or doughnut, shape – gives punters a largely unobstructed view of the stage from anywhere in the room. Catch single launches from local bands, or sets by smaller international acts.

It's worth a visit here just to eat at Sonny's Fried Chicken and Burgers, the in-house American-style diner. The fried chicken is some of the best in town – and so are the stacked cheeseburgers.

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Updated: April 3rd, 2024

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