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

Ichi Ni Nana

Restaurant

A large, colourful restaurant with a menu that touches on nearly every aspect of Japanese cuisine. Here you'll find sushi, gyoza, tempura, plus hearty bowls of ramen and don. Plus a fun drinks list that includes sakes, Japanese-influenced cocktails and craft beers from Tokyo.

Cutler & Co.

Restaurant

The flagship of Andrew McConnell's restaurant empire.

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Hotel Fitzroy

Restaurant

Three levels, two restaurants, a rooftop bar, outdoor gardens, breakfast and a 3am license - this venue wants you to have it all.

Belles Hot Chicken Fitzroy

Restaurant

The Colonel’s got nothing on this fiery Nashville-style fried-chicken joint.

Evie’s Disco Diner

Restaurant

True to its name, this ’80s-referencing, Queer-friendly, vegan-leaning American diner packs a nightclub-quality soundsystem and a mezzanine DJ booth. Drag trivia and bingo are held regularly here, alongside glitzy techno and pop parties.

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Gaea

Restaurant

Gaea is a degustation-only restaurant with room for just 16 guests. There's an intense focus on local ingredients, expressed through eccentric riffs on classic European techniques. You might find anything from cured wallaby to brined and charred dandelion flowers served with a pumpkin puree made from fermented pumpkin juice.

Cafes

Napier Quarter

Cafe

An all-day Parisian-style diner taking you right through from morning croissants to late-night cheese.

Industry Beans

Cafe

A white, bright successor to the famed roastery’s old flagship site down the street. Single origins and ground-breaking brunches still reign supreme, in a skylit warehouse splashed with greenery.

Sir Charles

Cafe

Asian-inspired brunch on the corner of Johnston and Brunswick Streets.

Bentwood

Cafe

An old furniture warehouse transformed into a polished and welcoming daytime diner.

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.

Calere

Cafe

A tiny daytime coffee nook, using beans from one of Australia's best roasters.

Bars

Marion

Bar

Look up at the wall and pick a bunch of shared dishes from the day's menu. Order some wine with help from the switched-on staff. The format's simple, but as we've come to expect from Andrew McConnell's restaurants, everything is just right.

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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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Near & Far

Bar

Indie craft beers are king at this unpretentious bar and bottle shop. Visit for hazy and wild brews, plus decadent French dip sangas by permanent pop-up, Jolly Good Sandwiches.

The Everleigh

Bar

This cocktail bar's eye for detail is second to none – it even has an in-house ice company to ensure every drink gets the perfect block.

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Milney's

Bar

A lush courtyard-diner from a seasoned hospo crew.

Mono-XO

Bar

Submerged in a warm white glow, this 22 seat Japanese-influenced diner and natural wine bar serves small shareable plates and a host of natural wines by the bottle and glass.

Shops

Meatsmith Fitzroy

Shop

Andrew McConnell’s fancy butchery.

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Morning Market

Shop

The Covid-19 pop-up Marion Grocer has found a permanent home. Enter for a very impressive salad sanga, $6 Baker Bleu pizza squares, and fancy picnic hampers. Plus, shop for topnotch pantry staples, fruit and veg, tomato seedlings, fresh blooms and more.

Fatto a Mano

Shop

This organic bakery is a northside institution, that's especially beloved amongst Fitzroy workers for its lunch options. There are a range of classic bakery sandwiches and big, fat slices of pizza to choose from. There's also a regularly changing line-up of pies with traditional fillings to order, too.

Gelato Messina

Shop

Sydney's favourite gelato chain is just as popular in Melbourne. Sometimes going for an ice-cream here – with the big crowds, cool staff and house music blaring – feels more like waiting in line at nightclub. It would almost be frustrating, if the gelato here weren't so good.

American Vintage

Shop

Your one-stop shop for the best rare vintage straight from the US.

Hunter Gatherer

Shop

Most of the hunting has been done for you at this vintage and second-hand clothing boutique.