Fitzroy is Melbourne’s oldest suburb, and consequently, one that many communities feel connected to. Walk any of the main streets – Smith, Gertrude, Brunswick or Johnston – and you’ll see a suburb struggling with its identity. Tattooed 20-somethings sail by on skateboards; downsizing Baby Boomers sip coffee on the footpaths; and newly arrived African migrants walk their kids to school. Many backpackers and interstate arrivals also find their first share houses here.

In its earliest days the area was working class. Most of the small terrace houses from that era remain, alongside pubs such as the Rose, Napier, Union Club, Rainbow and Labour in Vain. The backstreets often have a quaint feel. That is, until you stumble on a massive piece from one of the many graffiti artists who paint in the area.

Zoom out and skyline is dominated by four Housing Commission towers built in the 1960s, though upscale restaurants and designer boutiques have gradually surrounded them. Right now, there really is no better place to take the pulse of Melbourne’s dining and fashion scenes.

This is a relatively new development, but the area has had a strong bohemian population since at least the ’60s. Even with gentrification and escalating property prices, second-hand shops, live music, independent galleries, artist studios and community theatre shows remain a fixture.

Restaurants

Tamura Sake Bar

Restaurant

This jazzy Fitzroy 30-seater blends Japanese izakaya, craft sake bar and record store.

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Smith & Daughters

Restaurant

Ballsy vegan fare, tattooed babes and a rock‘n’roll vibe.

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Hell of the North

Restaurant

Elegant French food in a heritage-listed bluestone building.

Messer

Restaurant

Market-influenced European fare from the team behind Copper Pot in Seddon.

Shop Ramen Fitzroy

Restaurant

Delicious broth and handmade noodles in a cosy package.

Bontempo

Restaurant

From the team behind Fratellino Pizza in South Yarra.

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Cafes

Lune Croissanterie

Cafe

Wait-in-line-worthy pastries, cruffins and twice-baked croissants are served fresh out of the oven in this converted Fitzroy warehouse.

Cafe Louis

Cafe

Originally city stables, then an art gallery, this Moor Street site is a beautiful place for brunch.

Archie’s All Day

Cafe

This all-day diner serves the goods any time you need.

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Addict Food and Coffee

Cafe

This friendly local punches out bold eats and a balanced cup of coffee.

Industry Beans

Cafe

Coffee roasted in a big warehouse with a wide-ranging breakfast menu – you've seen it before, but these brothers do it with notable flair.

Gabriel

Cafe

Daytime cocktails and an Old World feel are the hallmarks of this elegant cafe.

Bars

Marquis of Lorne

Bar

A classic pub in Fitzroy for a good feed and a knock-off pint in the sun.

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The Lame Duck

Bar

Phil Collins Singalongs at a ’70s-inspired disco dive bar

Builders Arms Hotel

Bar

Under the stewardship of star chef Andrew McConnell, this classic old boozer feels as vital as ever.

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Marion

Bar

A place for serious grape lovers.

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Ends & Means

Bar

An easygoing cocktail bar from two former nightclub bartenders. With local brewers on tap and syrups brewed in-house.

Slowbeer Fitzroy

Bar

Choose from 1500 beers to take home, or drink in and match with a cheese plate

Shops

Northside Records

Shop

Satisfying Melbourne’s soul and funk cravings since 2002.

Don't Lose Your Temper

Shop

Two of Melbourne’s most renowned pastry chefs have given their successful wholesale business its own shopfront.

Compa

Shop

Dense, chewy, Sicilian-style gelato from the duo behind Westgarth's Il Melograno.

Thread Den

Shop

A treasure trove of handcrafted vintage-style frocks, with a sewing classes held up stairs.

Smith & Deli

Shop

A vegan neighbourhood corner store and deli in Fitzroy.

Guild of Objects

Shop

A much-loved ceramics shop offering locally made wares and workshops.