Collingwood is only on the other side of Smith Street from Fitzroy, but the two suburbs feel quite different. Where Fitzroy is mostly quaint terrace houses, Collingwood has long been a hub for light industry – mechanics, sheet-metal fabricators, commercial drycleaners and the like. Gradually, though, these businesses are moving out and their spacious tenancies are being put to new uses.

Converted warehouses now hold coffee roasters such as Proud Mary and Acoffee; bars including Rupert on Rupert and Stomping Ground; and retailers such as Lululemon. As in most parts of inner Melbourne, developers have turned many other sites into apartment blocks.

This hasn’t changed things too much – yet. Schoolhouse Studios, a collective of 90-plus artists in another warehouse on Rupert Street, is upholding Collingwood’s freewheeling, alternative spirit. Ditto for Backwoods Gallery on Easey Street, which works mainly with local street artists.

Collingwood is also home to the Tote and the Gasometer, two of Melbourne’s most important live music venues, and the Peel, one of the city’s most famous gay pubs.

Restaurants

Chotto Motto

Restaurant

Landing somewhere between a hip izakaya and a conbini, this place specialises in Hamamatsu-style gyoza served in a hot-and-crisp spiral. It also has a monthly soft-serve flavour for dessert and a beer vending machine for cold Japanese suds.

Smith & Daughters

Restaurant

Fire-based cooking reigns supreme at the second iteration of Shannon Martinez’ pioneering vegan diner, suitably housed inside an old red-brick fire station. Choose from Mediterranean-inspired dishes and booze à la carte, or grab a seat at the intimate chef’s table and let the experts choose for you.

Le Bon Ton

Restaurant

A late-night bar bringing the flavours of New Orleans and Texan barbeque to Melbourne.

Smith St Bistrot

Restaurant

The classically trained chef returns to his roots at Smith St Bistrot. But it’s not all fancy. There’s $40 steak frites and vino, and a decadent supper menu (which means Wagyu cheeseburgers and cocktails till 1am).

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Wabi Sabi Salon

Restaurant

A charming little Japanese restaurant with a cluttered interior that feels a bit like being in Japan. Dinners here are great but everyone loves the lunch deals, which involve bento boxes or sushi and miso sets.

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Congress

Restaurant

Kangaroo pastrami, pulled pig’s-head and croquettes are the hallmarks of this flexible restaurant-slash-wine bar.

Cafes

To Be Frank

Cafe

Sit on a milk crate and enjoy caramel-filled Argentinian pastries, updated escargot and slow-fermented bread.

Terror Twilight

Cafe

All-day breakfasts and “feel-good” food.

Hifi Sandwiches

Cafe

A takeaway-only deli serving hulking mortadella sandwiches; four-cheese toasties with French dip; and crispy, curly fries. These sangas also come with a soundtrack – an eclectic mix of vinyl spins behind the counter all day long.

Everyday Coffee

Cafe

Every cafe serves coffee, but few pay it as much attention as this one.

Proud Mary

Cafe

The coffee comes first, but the food’s no bit-player.

Papirica

Cafe

The focus here is on okonomiyaki – savoury Japanese pancakes. They come with all kinds of toppings, from pork and kimchi to mushroom. The rest of the menu is rounded out by classics including omurice, shokupan sandos and teriyaki chicken. Enjoy it all in the homey dining room or in the sunny courtyard.

Bars

The Tote

Bar

One of the most legendary venues in Melbourne's live music scene, still hosting punk, metal and stoner-rock bands most nights of the week.

Runner Up

Bar

Head to the sunny, fruit-tree-filled rooftop above Collingwood Yards for wallet-friendly wines and cocktails, plus a superlative view that won’t cost you a thing. Cap it off with rotating DJ sets through a killer sound system, and you’ve got plenty of reasons to stick around.

Goldy’s Tavern

Bar

This charmingly refurbed pub feels like it’s been around forever. Park yourself in the sunny, plant-filled atrium or nab a spot out front, then order a riff on the Chiko Roll, spicy mussel “schnitzels” and a Goldy’s Gaytime for dessert.

Maha Bar

Bar

Traditional Middle Eastern eats and za’atar margaritas at Maha’s good-time sibling.

Order on Providoor

Hope St Radio

Bar

A glowing wine (and pasta) bar at Collingwood’s mammoth arts hub, which doubles as Hope St Radio’s home. Settle in for rigatoni all’amatriciana, Fernet-Branca-and-cola sorbet and plenty of juicy lo-fi wines.

Smithward

Bar

This tiny neighbourhood wine bar doesn’t have room for a kitchen. So it serves a lot of cheese.

Shops

Falco Bakery

Shop

To drink, there's espresso or filter coffee made using beans roasted in house. Get yours with a slice of carrot and burnt-butter cake, a seasonal fruit Danish (maybe cherry or plum, with a crème anglais or cream cheese filling) or a peanut butter and house-fermented miso cookie.

BeerMash

Shop

Grab a growler to go, or sit in and take advantage of the huge range of draught, canned and bottled beers.

Glou

Shop

This wine store and bar sells vino exclusively on tap (and in refillable bottles). Choose from 16 wines, including an affordable one-litre bottle of Noisy Ritual rosé, a fruity Adelaide Hills semillon and a juicy Victorian merlot. Get yours to-go, or stay and order punchy Japanese small plates from Mono-XO.

Piccolina Gelateria Collingwood

Shop

Sit at the bar with a cone – or a granita – and get a great view of the chefs doing their work. The gelato here is revered for a reason, but keep an eye out for the excellent range of cakes and other treats on offer too.

Harvest Index

Shop

A Japanese tea-house recreated in the streets of Collingwood.

Clunes Outdoors

Shop

A cosy camping store for outdoor adventurers where everything is tested by the team inside.