Once a former industrial port, the inner-city suburb has seen a lot of urban growth over the last few decades and is now home to countless restaurants, cafes, bakeries and shops, as well as distilleries and breweries, a bouldering gym, a metal art gallery, parks and spots to relax by the water. It’s also home to great pubs.

Like falling asleep to the sound of rain, there’s something comforting about setting up camp at a pub near the water, even when the weather is less than beachy. Packed as it is with 100-year-old pubs touting fireplaces, hearty menus and (often) bay views, Port Melbourne is a destination worth visiting in winter as much as you would in summer.

Whether you’re looking for somewhere to eat between Port Melbourne’s different activities or just want to hunker down with a plate and a pint, these are the suburb’s best pubs – no matter the time of year.

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The Railway Club Hotel

Mixing old-school charm and a near-legendary reverence for fine cuts of red meat, the Railway Club Hotel has long been a Port Melbourne dining destination. While the front bar remains a casual haunt for locals nursing pints, the white-tablecloth dining room is where the lunchtime action is. Pick through the menu of high-grade Tasmanian and Gippsland beef, all on show in the pub’s display fridge, served simply with steakhouse sauces, flavoured butters and chips. Beyond the steaks you’ll find proper pub classics like rissoles with mash, or lamb’s fry, rotating chef’s specials and a serious wine cellar. A stint at the Railway Club makes for an indulgent pub lunch, so don’t plan too much for after. We’d recommend spending the afternoon walking it off around the nearby streets of Port Melbourne. Alternatively, you can just move over to the front bar after lunch, which stays open till late. And keep an eye out for the beef degustation dinners on offer each month.

The Graham Hotel

Longtime Port Melbourne locals will have seen many faces of the Graham over the years – a Chinese restaurant in the ’80s known as Cassidy’s Family Hotel, a white-tablecloth diner in the 2000s, and now a sleek revamp of the historic, 1870s-era watering hole. Settle in (ideally by the fireplace) among its exposed red brick and curved timbers and grab something from the modern pub menu. Light lunchers might want to order a few of the small plates like tuna tataki or grilled octopus with chimichurri, otherwise go all-in with wintry mains like the Flinders Island lamb shoulder pie or Wagyu beef schnitzel with red wine jus.

The Cricketers

Pubs like the Cricketers (historically the Cricketers Arms) have been around so long that, when they were built, Port Melbourne was still called Sandridge (the name was changed in 1884). Things have moved on since the Cricketers was established in 1871, and these days you’ll find a light-filled, modern revamp of the hotel. Whether you’re visiting for lunch or dinner, choose between the courtyard, fireside brasserie or formal dining room and dig into a menu that blends contemporary and retro influences in equal parts. There are lighter options like the Scotch egg with truffle mayonnaise or mussels with saffron-buttered bread, while larger options include the seaside classic of fish’n’chips with a side of mushy peas. Leave room for dessert, you won’t want to miss out on the lemongrass sticky date pudding.

The Exchange Hotel

If you’re planning on spending some time at the Port Melbourne dog beach, we’ve got just the spot to head to after. Take a short walk to the Exchange, a bayside staple since the early 20th century. It’s dog-friendly outside, with certain inside spaces also allowing our furry friends in. Come summertime, it makes for an ideal lunch break for beachgoers, but the whitewashed corner pub is an equally good spot to escape the off-season bluster. Its menu is heavy with modern pub standards – chicken parma, fish’n’chips, lamb pie and mash – but a recent update means a big focus on American barbeque-style smoked meats like braised pork, beef short ribs and harissa lamb shoulder, all served with slaw and fries. A hearty winter lunch if there ever was one.

The Prince Alfred

It can get a little rowdy on the weekend, but that’s all part of the charm at the Prince Alfred. A gathering spot for locals, the neighbourhood pub lets its hair down a little more than some of its Port Melbourne contemporaries, and that extends to the kitchen which, these days, is helmed by train-hoisting Collingwood burger legends Easey’s. Sure, you’ll find your traditional pub mains but, really, it’s all about American cheeseburgers (the Oklahoma fried onion cheeseburger might be the pick) and Aussie-style fried sides, like potato cakes and dim sims. And between midday and 3pm, a burger and tots will get you a free pot of house beer. The pub is also home to a range of weekly events, so there’s plenty of reasons to plan a night out there. Think themed trivia nights, musical bingo, live music and more.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with What’s On St Kilda and Southside.