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

Neko Neko

Restaurant

Japanese goes vegan.

Shop Ramen Fitzroy

Restaurant

Delicious broth and handmade noodles in a cosy package.

Belles Hot Chicken Fitzroy

Restaurant

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

Ichi Ni Nana Izakaya

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.

Cafes

Token Toasties

Cafe

Hot-pink signage marks the spot at Token Toasties, where the walls are plastered with rock’n’roll merch and the sandwich names are riffs on songs (like the Reuben Tuesday).

Arcadia

Cafe

One of Gertrude's Street's longest-serving cafes remains a solid go-to for hearty brunches, good coffee and a stiff drink when you need it. Spread out in the sunny rear courtyard or go al fresco on the footpath out front.

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.

Mile End Bagels

Cafe

Sweet, wood-fired, Montreal-style bagels are what sets this bakery apart from the rest of Melbourne’s bagel merchants.

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.

Bars

Bad Frankie

Bar

The first bar in Melbourne – and still the best – to ditch all international spirits in favour of a 100 per cent Australian list.

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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Bonny

Bar

A sleek, minimalist bar with craft beers, natural wines and food made to complement the booze.

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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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.

Order on Providoor

Shops

Meatsmith Fitzroy

Shop

Andrew McConnell’s fancy butchery.

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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.

Modern Times

Shop

Furniture, jewellery, textiles and more await you at this tasteful design store.

Mud Australia

Shop

Hand-made beautifully simple, yet deceptively intricate porcelain homewares.

Aesop

Shop

High-quality botanical skin, hair and body products.

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.