Northcote and Fitzroy make a strong case, but Brunswick is Melbourne’s biggest centre of alternative culture. Walk the streets and you’ll spot more tattoos, piercings, lurid hair colours and op-shop clothes (from Savers on Sydney Road, probably) than anywhere else. Every night of the week, local bands play at venues such as Howler, the Brunswick Hotel, the Retreat and the Spotted Mallard. Vegan food is plentiful and everyone seems to ride a bike.

That’s one part of it, anyway. Brunswick also has a strong multi-cultural character. Greeks and Italians have been here since the ’60s and more recently, immigrants from Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East have clustered around the north end of Sydney Road, making it one of the best places in town to eat falafel; smoke a shisha pipe; or shop for ingredients such as za’atar, rosewater and Aleppo peppers.

Neighbouring Brunswick East has much of the same character, but swaps Sydney Road for the less-hectic end of Lygon Street and its cafes, restaurants and boutiques.


Good Days


Vegan-friendly Vietnamese. Yes, it exists.

Ollie’s Pizza Parlour


Pizzas that fall somewhere between Neapolitan and New York-style. Pull up for spicy, garlicky clam pies (with chowder-like cream); zhooshed-up Hawaiians; cheesy, anchovy-topped savoury doughnuts; boozy gelati; and natural wine.

Los Hermanos Mexican Taqueria


Half restaurant, half bar and always a party. Owner Bruno Carreto was born in Mexico and did a stint in a taqueria there before opening Los Hermanos. As you'd expect, the tacos and gorditas are the real deal. Don't forget to choose a tequila or mezcal from the blackboard.

Book a Table

Bar Texaco


A former McConnell chef is behind this intimate bar serving Texas-style brisket, pork belly, jalapeño kransky and four types of taco. There’s also a tidy selection of tequila, mezcal and bourbon.

Juanita Peaches


Some of the best fried chicken in town.

Beatbox Kitchen Brunswick


Melbourne’s original burger truck, in bricks-and-mortar form.


Thanks Coffee and Sangas


A cheery ’90s-inspired cafe selling – you guessed it – coffee and sangas.

Ona Coffee


This Canberra-based coffee roaster has made a real name for itself on the east coast. Visit this outpost and you’ll understand why. At any time, there are at least 20 outstanding coffees listed on its “freezer menu”.

Wide Open Road


Even though it opened back in 2009, this cafe and roastery is still one of the most popular cafes in Brunswick. The interiors are spacious, with comfortable chairs and cosy booths. And the food is adventurous, but it won't veer too far away from anyone's comfort zones. The coffee is, predictably, excellent.

Code Black Coffee Brunswick


This cafe and roasting house is one of Melbourne's most established brunch spots. But even after all these years, it's still at the very front of the pack. Dishes are still delicious and creative, the coffee's still great and the space is still slick.



Hidden away in this relaxed Brunswick warehouse space you’ll find pretzel sandwiches, hotel-buffet-inspired brunches and great coffee.

A1 Bakery


An affordable Middle-Eastern bakery, cafe and grocer.




Blending elements of Melbourne cafe, European wine bar and Tokyo-style “listening bar”, this buzzing spot hosts vinyl-only DJs five nights a week, with no cover charges. It’s one of the best places in town to hear recorded music.



This pop-up Palm Springs-inspired bar, attached to live-music venue Howler, will be around until mid-2021, slinging boozy slushies and woodfired pizzas.

The Cornish Arms


This pub is renowned for two reasons. One: it's got one of the most vegan-friendly menus in Melbourne – meaning meat-eaters and herbivores alike can enjoy whatever pub classic they feel like. Two: its sunny and expansive rooftop bar is surely one of the best in Brunswick. With its great view of the skyline, it definitely has the best view.

Cult of the Vine


At this bottle-o you'll find a small, intensely focused selection of natural and minimal intervention wines.

Welcome to Brunswick


Here you’ll find 4 Pines beer brewed specially for the space, an ever-rotating selection of burgers, tacos, Philly cheesesteaks, and woodfired pizza. And it’s dog friendly, too.

Joey Smalls


It’s not quite a nightclub and it’s not quite a bar. But it’s definitely good for a dance.


Billy Van Creamy Brunswick


Classic flavours made with the highest-quality ingredients possible are the draw at this ice-creamery. Pop in for scoops of house-made honeycomb, mint and milk chocolate, and more. Plus: milkshakes, sundaes, ice-cream sandwiches and good coffee.

Hope Street Space


Find gifts for loved ones, knick knacks for your home, or fun vintage collectables at this delightful Brunswick bazaar.



A father-and-son team is serving up tartufo, plus scoops of house-made salty Snickers, fior de banana and "Franjaffico" gelato. And there’s gelato-filled cannoli, too. And just like any good gelato shop worth its scoops, it's all prepared from scratch and churned daily.

Ovens Street


This bread and pastry outfit supplies some of the best cafes in Melbourne. Head here if you want to go straight to the source.

Dejour Jeans


The best-fitting jeans you’ll ever own.

Mr Kitly


Petite and hidden away, Brunswick space Mr Kitly eschews the standard retail experience.