Melbourne's pubs – what would we do without them? For all of us at Broadsheet, it doesn’t bear thinking about. 

There’s no single criteria that achieves the gold standard for great boozer (although the weight and circumference of the house parma does make an impression). But Melbourne’s best pubs hit a sweet spot where history, imagination and great food and drink collide.

Some of the establishments on this list are as old as the city itself (but more than keep up with times). Others are modern envelope-pushers that challenging our ideas about what a friendly local can be. 

What they all share in common is their standing as perfect places to meet – whether for an affordable meal, a game of trivia or a weekend wind up (or wind down). You’ll find what you’re looking for at one of these pubs.

Hotel Lincoln

Bar

Pub fare that's a cut above the usual.

91 Cardigan street, Carlton

Marquis of Lorne

Bar

This classic pub – which has stood on its corner for over 150 years – is one of Melbourne's best. The three-level hotel is the ideal place for a good feed or a knock-off pint in the sun, whether you're downstairs in the front bar, upstairs in the dining room, or soaking in rays on the rooftop.

411 George street, Fitzroy

The Espy

Bar

After a profound redevelopment, this legendary seaside pub is going strong, offering the live music, drinks, food, good times and views it always has, albeit in far more polished fashion.

11 The Esplanade, St Kilda

Builders Arms Hotel

Bar

Under the stewardship of star chef Andrew McConnell, this classic old boozer feels as vital as ever.

211 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
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The Gasometer Hotel

Bar

A classic live music venue, complete with a giant retractable roof.

484 Smith Street, Collingwood
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The Woodlands Hotel

Restaurant

Craft beers, whimsical interiors and refined food combine on Sydney Road in Coburg.

84-88 Sydney Road, Coburg

The Retreat Hotel

Bar

One of the few pubs in Melbourne with a true heritage fit-out.

226 Nicholson Street, Abbotsford
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The Great Northern Hotel

Bar

An old man’s pub made cool again.

644 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North

The Tote

Bar

One of the most legendary venues in Melbourne's live music scene, still hosting punk, metal and stoner-rock bands almost every night of the week.

71 Johnston Street, Collingwood

The Local Taphouse

Bar

This bar, influenced by European taverns and drinking halls, has one of the best beer lists in town. If you're a beer lover in Melbourne, you need to come here. It's non-negotiable. Pair those drinks with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere – either inside or on the killer rooftop – and you have an absolute winner.

184 Carlisle Street, St Kilda East

The Royston Hotel

Bar

The Terminus Hotel’s secluded little sister.

12 River Street, Richmond

Garden State Hotel

Bar

Four storeys, multiple dining spaces, three menus, TV screens, taps, cocktails and an indoor garden.

101 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Labour in Vain

Bar

A little bit gritty, a little bit dingy, but with its heart well and truly in the right place.

197 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Albert Park Hotel

Restaurant

This sprawling venue spans four levels. Get chilli-spiked mezcal Margaritas at one of the three bars, plus dumplings, Peking duck and fried ice-cream at the Chinese diner.

Corner Montague & Dundas Place, Albert Park

Lamaro’s Hotel

Restaurant

Gastropub fare in plush surrounds.

273-279 Cecil Street, South Melbourne

The Terminus Hotel

Bar

One of the first pubs in Melbourne to really diversify its beer selection.

492 Queens Parade, Fitzroy North

Corner Hotel

Bar

You're not a live music fan in Melbourne unless you've been to the Corner. The room – and its infamous solitary column – is rightfully an icon. But did you know it also has a killer rooftop and beer garden upstairs?

57 Swan Street, Richmond

The Rochester Hotel

Bar

A pub from the couple behind Vic Bar, The Aviary and Dr Morse.

202 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

The Town Hall Hotel, North Melbourne

Bar

A genuine old-school pub with heart.

33 Errol Street, North Melbourne

The Rose

Bar

Fitzroy’s oldest and best-loved pub still has its soul after a refurb.

406 Napier Street, Fitzroy

The Standard

Bar

A gold-standard, inner-northern pub.

293 Fitzroy St , Fitzroy

The Station Hotel

Bar

Well-sourced and cooked steaks that make for some of Footscray’s finest.

59 Napier Street, Footscray

The Prince Public Bar

Bar

This classic St Kilda pub was reintroduced to the public at the end of 2019. Now, you’ll find classic pub counter meals – alongside more refined fare – to enjoy in the swish new interiors or outside in the sun.

29 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
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Fitzroy Town Hall Hotel

Restaurant

Sean Donovan has taken the historical hotel back to its roots.

166 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
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The Gem Bar and Dining

Bar

This rowdy pub has a rockabilly theme, complete with genuine American barbeque. It's unusual, but it works.

289 Wellington Street, Collingwood

The Napier Hotel

Bar

A cosy corner pub nestled down the backstreets of Fitzroy that's a great place to call your local.

210 Napier Street, Fitzroy

The Cheeky Pint

Bar

Dedicated to all things beer, with speciality batches, hand-pumped ales and a beer chandelier. Try a fight of the house brews for $25, matched to very beer-friendly food.

231 Barkly Street, Footscray

The Empress

Bar

A down-to-earth pub in Fitzroy North with one of the area's best beer gardens.

714 Nicholson Street,, Fitzroy North

Mount Erica Hotel

Restaurant

Schnitzels and pints alongside loftier bistro fare.

420 High Street, Prahran

Hardimans Hotel

Bar

This 19th-century pub has one of the best beer selections in Kensington and a menu filled with well-executed pub classics.

521 Macaulay Road, Kensington

Prince Alfred Hotel Richmond

Restaurant

A Richmond institution with classic pub food and a large open beer garden.

619 Church Street, Richmond

The Grace Darling Hotel

Bar

A gastro-pub serving good food, drink and music in a classy setting.

114 Smith Street, Collingwood

Half Moon

Restaurant

A pub with six drinking and dining areas spanning two levels, rather like a playground for grown-ups.

120 Church St, Brighton

Goldy’s Tavern

Bar

Despite the refurb, this charming all-day boozer feels like it’s been around forever. Park yourself in the sunny, plant-filled atrium or nab a spot out front for a pub-style breakfast or an upmarket parma later in the day. No matter what time it is, an Aussie Hard Coffee starring Dukes batch brew, Starward whisky and cardamom cream always goes down smooth.

66 Gold Street, Collingwood

The Hack

Bar

This big, bright pub has had many lives. Right now it's all about good beer.

1 Crockford Street, Port Melbourne

The Post Office Hotel

Bar

The Art-Deco pub that always delivers.

229-231 Sydney Road, Coburg

The Plough Hotel

Restaurant

A historic pub with a serious makeover.

333 Barkly Street, Footscray

Victoria Hotel Footscray

Bar

A stripped-back pub with classic fare and surprising wines.

43 Victoria Street, Footscray

The Park Werribee

Bar

Craft brews and varied fare, two minutes from Werribee station.

12 Watton Street, Werribee
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Northcote Social Club

Bar

An important part of Melbourne’s live music scene since 2004.

301 High Street, Northcote

The John Curtin Hotel

Bar

A pub’s pub at the city end of Lygon Street.

29 Lygon Street, Carlton

Orrong Hotel

Bar

Shuttered for years, this classic Melbourne pub was carefully restored to its former glory by a crack team of publicans. Find Wagyu Philly cheesesteaks and nightly specials, a coolroom turned pool room and a Sunday sesh-ready courtyard.

709 High Street, Armadale

Hobsons Bay Hotel

Bar

At this three-level neighbourhood pub you'll find a rooftop with sweeping bay and city views, a largely woodfired menu of flame-licked steaks and rotisserie chooks, and cocktails on tap.

28 Ferguson Street, Williamstown