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.


  • The relaxed diner – inspired by the intimate trattorias in Italy's northwest – specialises in cuisine and wine from Piedmont. Go for vitello tonnato, steak tartare and the region's two signature pastas. Plus, choose from an encyclopaedic leather-bound wine list of barolo, dolcetto, and more.

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  • The flagship of celebrated chef Andrew McConnell’s restaurant empire is a lesson in refined elegance. From the leather booths to the chic front bar, it’s a perfect spot for a special occasion. Experience McConnell’s renowned fine-dining experience with the degustation.

  • Chances are you haven’t had these in Melbourne. Deep End’s owner studied in the US and brought its pizza back here. Choose from thin New York-style; crispy-cornered Detroit-style; and hulking Chicago deep-dish pizzas.

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  • This Brunswick Street institution is one of Australia’s oldest Afghan restaurants. Adored by locals and tourists alike, the veggo- and vegan-friendly spot is one of Fitzroy’s most essential dining experiences.

  • Pass under the glowing neon sign to find this vibrant North Indian diner. Go for crispy honey-chilli cauliflower, fig and pomegranate kofta, and Punjabi butter chicken that (importantly) isn’t sweet. Plus, find Indian-leaning cocktails levelled-up with ingredients like turmeric, mango and cardamom.

  • Find classic Japanese snacks and party-friendly cocktails at this sprawling izakaya. Across two levels, go for karaage and gyoza alongside natural wines, cocktails made with Japanese whisky and Stomping Ground rice lager on tap.


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

  • A place where fried and scrambled eggs – stuffed inside brioche-adjacent buns and served in a jiffy – are the hero.

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

  • A rustic Mediterranean deli and eatery in the heart of the action on Brunswick Street.

  • A kitsch and colourful Colombian cafe.

  • A Melbourne sandwich institution in a northside backstreet. You might go for a chicken schnitzel sanga with an undersized potato bun, a decadent egg-and-cheese breakfast muffin or the standout vegan sanga.


  • Pick a bunch of shared dishes from the day’s menu on the wall. 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.

  • This retro antipasti bar made a name for itself on Tiktok before it even opened. Come for its entirely-vegan menu that includes cheese fondue, an array of arancini, fun cocktails and lots of Abba. Stay for the ’70s aesthetic and good vibes.

  • 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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  • Under the stewardship of star chef Andrew McConnell, this classic bar and dining room in a heritage building feels as vital as ever. Throw back easy-drinking lagers and cocktails with a burger or the rotisserie of the day.

  • An archetypical inner-city pub in the back streets of Fitzroy.

  • The Sydney staple’s first Melbourne outpost is pouring wild ales, natural wines and sour Negronis. Come to the hybrid bottle shop and bar for beer-infused cocktails, Belgian lambics and a snack-driven menu.


  • Enter this Euro-style grocer and cafe for an impressive salad sanga, Baker Bleu pizza squares and fancy picnic hampers. Plus, two-person cakes (including Marion’s Basque cheesecake), produce, seedlings, fresh blooms and more for home.

  • A high-grade sushi bar and an impressive pantry of hard-to-find Japanese groceries. Stop in for fresh sushi, sweet daifuku, noodles, pickling starter packs and more. Or pick up Japanese ceramics, konro barbeques, glassware and knives for your own kitchen.

  • Since 1992, this family-run Lebanese bakery has served up affordable Lebanese pies, pizzas and falafel platters in Brunswick. At its city-side outpost (which is mostly takeaway) go for spinach triangles, haloumi pies and chicken pita wraps, alongside flakey baklava and hot coffee.

  • Melbourne-born label Suku makes bold and dreamy loungewear, homewares, bedding and ready-to-wear clothing that’ll elevate any room or outfit. At its flagship store, find bold patterns that look like an acid trip and buttery-soft fabrics that make it hard to leave empty-handed.

  • Set on one of Melbourne’s most iconic strips for second-hand shopping, American Vintage is a one-stop shop for rare vintage straight from the US. Expect to find reams of original tour T-shirts, vintage workers or Harley Davidson jackets, cowboy boots and much more.

  • OTC has been a mainstay on Melbourne’s premier vintage shopping strip since the early ’90s. Expect to find mostly ’80s and ’90s pieces spanning denim, branded sportswear, blouses, windbreakers, boiler suits, cowboy boots and more. Its underground CBD store also warrants a visit.