Neighbourhood bars, local bars, low-key bars. Regardless of the term you use, you know one when you see it, even if they’re hard to define on paper. These places rarely have expensive fit-outs, lengthy drinks lists or elaborate concepts. They’re just affordable places where the tunes are good, the bartenders are up for a chat and the clientele rarely live further than a few blocks away. Step in and surrender to their friendly, no-bullshit spirit.

Related pages:
Best Cocktail Bars in Melbourne
Best Hidden Bars in Melbourne
Best Beer Bars in Melbourne
Best Wine Bars in Melbourne

Joe's Shoe Store

The ideal place for a couple of quiet pints.

233 High Street, Northcote

Uncle Joe's

The younger sibling to Northcote's Joe's Shoe Store.

325 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Bar Josephine

A welcoming space filled with craft beer and classic books.

295 Barkly Street, Footscray

Misery Guts

A quirky yet serious bar filled with second-hand furniture.

19 Grey Street, St Kilda

Gerald's Bar

A cosy local in Rathdowne Village where you can eat, drink and play records.

386 Rathdowne St, Carlton North


Tom Petty on the stereo, Guinness on tap and pizza passed through a canteen-style window from next door.

225 Johnston Street, Abbotsford


Inspired by the beautiful old dive bars found across America.

136 Johnston Street, Collingwood

Dunning Kruger

An exceptionally personal neighbourhood bar, serving beer, wine and sweet American-style pies.

436 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

The Catfish

An unpretentious spot for great beer, live music and authentic Philly cheesesteaks.

30 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

Low Key

It’s froths and no fuss, every day of the week.

59 High Street, Northcote

Hard Rubbish

The DIY spirit is alive and well at this cheap and cheerful north-side bar.

670 Plenty Road, Preston


Four old hands are behind this no-fuss bar, which is complete with ferns and a fireplace.

209 St George's Road, Fitzroy North

The Raccoon Club

A local craft beer watering hole with a laid back atmosphere.

145 Plenty Road, Preston

East Of Everything

While away an afternoon with beer, po’ boys and city views.

Level 3 72 Auburn Parade , Camberwell


A Victoria Street classic, with decades of lived-in, kitschy charm.

368 Victoria Street, North Melbourne


Danish minimalism meets Italian wine bar. With a cinema.

318 St Georges Rd, Fitzroy North

Bar Open

A good old late night bar sporting character in spades.

317 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Surly’s Bar and Garden

This neighbourhood bar combines an old-school pub atmosphere with a forward-thinking drinks list filled with ultra-local ales, pét-nats and vegan cocktails.

570 High Street, Preston

Hell's Kitchen

A late night watering hole in the middle of the city with a good laneway view and a lunchtime menu too.

Level 1 20a Centre Place, Melbourne