Best Bars in Brunswick

Updated 1 month ago

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The best bars in Brunswick are still mostly found on Sydney Road, clustered between Brunswick Road and Glenlyon Road, but we’re starting to see new openings stretching into the suburb’s bungalow-filled side streets, edging closer to Brunswick East and Brunswick West.

The area is particularly good for bigger groups. It’s almost as close to the city as Fitzroy and Richmond and there are plenty of pubs, but there’s a little more space. Many of the bars in this guide feature large, open spaces filled with big communal tables.

Live music also has a serious presence here. The dearly departed Brunswick Hotel was an incubator for heavy metal and punk, a torch that’s since been passed to Stay Gold, the band room at the back of Spitfire. The Penny Black, The Spotted Mallard, Bar Oussou and The Retreat Hotel are also reliable places to catch a band. And of course, there’s Howler, where indie and electronic acts take full advantage of one of Melbourne’s best sound systems.

Related Pages
Best Bars in Brunswick East
Guide to Brunswick

  • Hop-forward IPAs are the main game at this soaring warehouse brewery, but sours, saisons and dark beers are also on frequent rotation. Pair with a charcuterie box or pizza and you’re all set.

  • Look for the locals sitting out front drinking jugs, right next to the overpacked bike racks. Set in a former strip club, this is a true local – offering good pub grub, craft beer and live music.

  • This warm and inviting pub is renowned for two reasons. First, it's got one of the most vegan-friendly menus in Melbourne. And second, its sunny and expansive rooftop bar ranks among the best in Brunswick.

  • It’s beer, sandwiches and 1960s Americana at this laid-back spot.

  • This comfortable spot from the founders of New Guernica isn’t quite a nightclub or a bar. It’s something in between, with a slow-building dance floor that runs late on weekends, powered by funk, soul, house, hip-hop and disco. Take a break from dancing with burgers, fried chicken and decent cocktails.

  • A former wool store turned bar, arts hub and live music venue.

  • Shoot pool on a round table, sipping cocktails and admiring the Art-Deco decor between shots.

  • A mix of business – from boutique beers to summer punch and Asian cuisine served Spanish-style.

  • Blending elements of Melbourne cafe, European wine bar and Tokyo-style “listening bar”, this buzzing spot hosts vinyl-only DJs five nights a week, with no cover charges. It’s one of the best places in town to hear recorded music.

  • This live music bar spot feels a bit like a house party. See a gig in the bandroom, drink in the all-weather beer garden, or hide out in its quiet front bar for classic cocktails. It even has a 3am license, so there’s no mass exodus when the show ends.

  • This corner pub is from some of the crew that revamped the Royal Oak Hotel and The Marquis of Lorne. Visit for a retro menu filled with fun takes on pub staples – plus an outdoor bar with a retractable roof.

  • Expect domed stained-glass skylights, plush red-velvet curtains and a shiny grand piano. The eclectic program runs the gauntlet from music to cabaret to comedy and beyond. Visit the downstairs bar or book dinner and show.

  • Park up by a sunny window and order fluffy shokupan topped with peach, ricotta and tomatoes, or pork cutlet dripping in a creative bacon glaze. Plus, honey cake that makes good use of the upstairs beehive.

  • This backstreet bar focuses on wild-fermented drinks like saisons, lambics, organic lagers, sakes, mezcals and rums. Get them alongside punchy Thai dishes like house-fermented sausage, fried-banana-blossom salad and charcoal-grilled skewers.