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

Gogyo

Restaurant

Swing by for a bowl of the signature burnt-miso ramen at lunch, or izakaya-style snacks and cocktails after dark.

Henry's

Restaurant

Henry’s channels a 1950s diner (just without all the meat and dairy).

Ichi Ni Nana

Restaurant

Tempura, yakitori, sushi, don - this Japanese restaurant covers a lot of bases.

Bimbo

Restaurant

Not even a devastating fire could keep this Fitzroy institution down. DJs, cheap pizza and good times are still the name of the game here.

Vegie Bar

Restaurant

Melbourne's mecca for vegetarian and vegan food.

Smith & Daughters

Restaurant

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

Cafes

Gabriel

Cafe

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

Grub Fitzroy

Cafe

An indoor fish pond and full glass roof make this one of Melbourne's quirkiest venues.

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.

Egglab

Cafe

A place where gooey eggs in various forms – stuffed between two slices of bread and served in three minutes – are the hero.

Cafe Louis

Cafe

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

Bars

Mono-XO

Bar

Submerged in a neon-lavender glow, this 22-seat cyberpunk grotto has KISS on the stereo, highball cocktails from one of Melbourne’s best, and charcoal-grilled skewers from a chef who’s spent time at Momofuku Seiobo and The Town Mouse.

The Rum Diary Bar

Bar

A Brunswick Street bar wholly dedicated to rum.

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.

Milney's

Bar

A lush courtyard-diner from a seasoned hospo crew.

Marquis of Lorne

Bar

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

Little Hop

Bar

Old-school Fitzroy cool, constructed by tacos and craft beer.

Shops

Compa

Shop

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

Plane

Shop

A clever play on the everyday "plain" clothes we all need.

Aesop

Shop

High-quality botanical skin, hair and body products.

Aunt Maggie's

Shop

Harking back to an era when 'organic food' was simply called 'food'.

Wine Republic

Shop

An egalitarian bottle shop where you’ll find $2500 wines next to $10 cleanskins.

Northside Records

Shop

Satisfying Melbourne’s soul and funk cravings since 2002.