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.

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Poodle Bar & Bistro

Restaurant

This double-decker spot is full of cosy nooks. Sink into a leather banquette or one of the gold velvet couches and order zhooshed-up hotel classics (thinly sliced beetroot-dill cured trout, pan-roasted chicken topped with truffle) from a former Cumulus Inc and Marion chef.

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Naked In The Sky

Restaurant

This is the place where you bring anyone visiting Melbourne from out of town. So why do people brave the crowds, the uncertainty about actually getting a seat and the uncomfortably small elevator? Because this Fitzroy classic has some truly gobsmacking panaromic views of our city.

Hell of the North

Restaurant

Elegant French food in a heritage-listed bluestone building.

Gaea

Restaurant

An adventurous Gertrude Street diner with room for just 16 guests. Dishes can include cured wallaby, preserved black truffle and brined dandelions.

Nomada Food & Wine

Restaurant

A warm, Spanish-inflected wine bar.

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Cafes

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. Although the Industry Beans empire has expanded to other parts of Melbourne and even interstate, the original is still our favourite.

Archie’s All Day

Cafe

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

Calere

Cafe

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

Rustica

Cafe

Everything is house-made at this Brunswick Street bakery and cafe.

Napier Quarter

Cafe

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

Sonido

Cafe

A kitsch and colourful Venezuelan cafe.

Bars

Upside Rooftop Bar

Bar

This rooftop bar above Ichi Ni Nana and Village People Hawker Food Hall is the perfect place to start an evening in Fitzroy, perched as it is at the top of Brunswick Street. Come here Asian-inspired cocktails or some good value wines.

Marquis of Lorne

Bar

This classic pub – which has stood on its corner for over 150 years – is one of Melbourne's best. The three-level hotel is the ideal place for a good feed or a knock-off pint in the sun, whether you're downstairs in the front bar, upstairs in the dining room, or soaking in rays on the rooftop.

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Little Hop

Bar

This taqueria is a simple kind of place, with just two beers on tap and tunes spinning away on the turntables behind the bar. Local hospitality workers like to stick their heads in for a quick chat and a taco before their shift. It’s open until late on weekends, so many return for a wind-down drink after work too.

Marion

Bar

A place for serious grape lovers.

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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.

The Rochester Hotel

Bar

A pub from the couple behind Vic Bar, The Aviary and Dr Morse.

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Shops

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.

Smith & Deli

Shop

Almost everything at this vegan deli is made in-house, from charcuterie and fresh buffalo mozzarella to take-home lasagnas and crème brulee doughnuts.

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.

Meatsmith Fitzroy

Shop

Andrew McConnell’s fancy butchery.

American Vintage

Shop

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