The Best Pubs in Melbourne

Updated 1 week ago

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Melburnians have long embraced pub culture. The city was founded in 1835 and within just four years, 20 licenses had been issued. And while the term “public house” seems quaint today, it continues to be a bloody good description for Melbourne’s pubs, which welcome all ages and walks of life.

Pubs have changed enormously since then, weathering multiple recessions, two world wars, the temperance movement, the 6 o’clock swill, the counter lunch wars, gentrification and deadliest of all, the wrecking ball and pandemic.

The few hundred that have survived are all the more special and important. Here are our top picks, from nostalgic sticky carpet joints like The Tote to modern envelope-pushers like The Green Man’s Arms, challenging our ideas about what a friendly local can be.

City and Surrounds

  • This 19th-century gastropub, with a vintage front bar and bistro, is among Melbourne’s best. It’s serving modern classics (including schnitzel with chicken butter) and a set menu that wouldn’t look out of place in a classy restaurant.

  • If Keith Richards were a pub, the Townie would be it: weathered by years of partying, yet somehow still as good as ever. It’s open till late, which means there’s a high chance of catching some live music and a late-night pint.

  • This massive pub has room for 800 punters across four leafy levels. And you can’t go wrong in any direction. Hit the front bar for parmas and pints, the basement-level cocktail bar, or Tippy Tay for fun Italian vibes and Negronis.

  • It was once Bob Hawke’s favourite watering hole; these days it’s a rock’n’roll icon. Bands often pack out the upper level, while DJs spin vinyl downstairs. Sonny’s, the in-house diner, has Southern-style fried chicken and banging burgers.

  • One of Melbourne’s oldest drinking spots, this old boozer has come a long way since 1853. Inside, enjoy hearty pub grub, curries and pasta – all surrounded by lush greenery and old bluestone walls.

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  • Set opposite Queen Vic Market, this classic pub makes the most of its access to local produce. Come for house pasta and steaks from the grill, and check out the basement whisky bar. Or spend the night in its “micro hotel rooms”.

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  • At this 1857-built art deco pub, enjoy a meal cooked on the hotel’s parilla grill and English-style ales served from hand pumps. Plus, stunning Sunday roasts and a record player spinning Dolly Parton and the Beatles.

East

  • This historic neighbourhood spot, around since 1888, has room for 230 punters. Head to the beer garden for pub classics and woodfired pizzas, while the kids make the most of the on-site playground.

  • The crowd-pleasing pizzas are a big draw here, as are the customisable parmas (we like it spicy). And on weekends, the open-air courtyard is where it’s at, especially if there’s a DJ around.

  • 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?

  • The Terminus Hotel’s secluded little sister is a true locals’ haunt (spot them sprawled on couches and huddled around communal tables). It’s mastered pub staples like parmas and steaks, which pair well with the many beers on tap.

  • There’s always action in the Prince’s grand front bar, but it’s the breezy, shaded beer garden that really commands the crowds. It’s a south-side magnet, so get down early if you plan to eat your burger or a steak at a table.

  • Another polished pub by the Marquis of Lorne crew. As at its sibling spots, there are plenty of spaces to settle in, including a downstairs bar with craft and classic beers, a dining room with pub and bistro menus, and a rooftop.

  • A bright modern boozer with plenty of fun across three levels. Head to the rooftop for pub fare, city views and the odd drag brunch. Or down to the basement cocktail bar, a function space with room for up to 160.

  • Shuttered for years, this classic pub was carefully restored to its former glory by a crack team of publicans. Find hibachi-grilled skewers, classic prawn cocktails, a coolroom turned pool room and a knock-off-ready courtyard.

North

  • This charming neighbourhood pub changed hands in 2023, but held on to its nostalgic ’70s feel. Come for quiet pints in the front bar and an Italian-influenced menu that nods to its long history.

  • One of the city’s OG craft beer destinations, this boozer has dozens of indie brews on tap, and the beer garden is an excellent spot to work your way through them. We’d expect nothing less from a pub owned by Feral Brewing’s founder.

  • 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.

  • This three-level pub – which has stood for more than 150 years – is one of Melbourne’s best. It’s an ideal spot for a feed or knock-off pint, whether you’re in the front bar, upstairs in the dining room, or soaking rays on the rooftop.

  • Serving the neighbourhood since 1871, this old boozer is now run by the Marquis of Lorne crew. Its pub staples are more elevated than most, from rock oysters to roast lamb rump. And there’s still plenty of old-school charm.

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  • One of the most legendary venues in Melbourne’s live music scene, as well as a pilgrimage for interstate bands. Its three gig spaces (main room, front bar and upstairs) are sticky-carpeted tributes to the thousands of punk, metal and stoner-rock acts it hosts every year.

  • The Gaso is one of the city’s best rock’n’roll pubs. Its cosy, red-brick front bar belies the size of the band room out back, where you can catch the cream of the city’s musical crop from the dance floor, or the upstairs mezzanine beneath a retractable roof.

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  • Take a trip back in time – to 1915 to be exact. This is one of few Melbourne pubs with a true heritage fit-out. But it’s kept up with the times where it counts. Be sure to book on weekends, or you’ll eat your parma standing.

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  • Despite the modern refurb, this charming all-day boozer feels like it’s been around forever. Park up in the sunny, plant-filled atrium or out front for upmarket parmas. The knockout-style pool competitions here are a mid-week spectacle.

  • This craft beer destination also has a sophisticated steak restaurant. Head out back to Cinder for incredible Josper-grilled steaks, or settle into the carpeted public bar for quality pub grub.

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  • Formerly The Rochester Castle this place has never lost its party pub reputation. DJs own it on weekends, but the slick pub mains means it’s equally suited for a quiet midweek feed.

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  • Locals get misty-eyed when you mention the Napier, such is the respect for this backstreet corner pub. The menu is pure comfort, and the interior is full of pressed metal and Australiana kitsch. It’s the kind of local every suburb needs.

  • Fitzroy’s dense with pubs, but The Standard commands one of the suburb’s fiercest followings. Rusted-on locals pack the all-weather beer garden (the owners claim it’s Melbourne’s biggest), and the front bar feels warm and lived in.

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  • At this art deco pub, you’re just as likely to catch scruffy rockers playing in the front bar as you are a bijou wedding in the gorgeous dining hall. This place is a beautiful mixed bag, just like Coburg itself. If you’re eating here, expect elegant pub dishes and a specials board devoted to gnocchi.

  • This is one of Melbourne’s most underrated pubs, where veteran chef Sean Donovan blends French techniques with Aussie barbeque. The historic hotel has a casual front bar, two dining rooms and an untouched wine cellar.

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  • Indie, comedy and even mariarchi shows have this live-music stalwart, where there’s something worth seeing almost every night. If guitars don’t amp you up, there’s a beer garden with plenty of dark nooks to do as the pub’s name suggests.

  • This saloon-style pub has an Elvis fixation. The boot-worn floorboards feel lived in, and you might even catch a cowboy hat-wearing country act. The food sticks to the Americana theme: think Southern fried chicken and cheeseburgers.

  • A bastion of live music for two decades, this is the spot to see buzzy acts from Melbourne and beyond. As well as the bandroom, it’s got an all-weather deck that blends into the rest of the pub, plus exceptional parmas and roasts.

  • It was once Bob Hawke’s favourite watering hole; these days it’s a rock’n’roll icon. Bands often pack out the upper level, while DJs spin vinyl downstairs. Sonny’s, the in-house diner, has Southern-style fried chicken and banging burgers.

  • Once a notorious pub with a chequered past, this north-side institution is now a glowing venue for special occasions, date nights and good times. It offers a Mediterranean diner, late-night vinyl-only bar and sprawling beer garden.

  • The vibe is laid-back at this 160-year-old pub by the team behind The Royston. Bring your dog to the courtyard for cheeseburger spring rolls and the crowd-favourite kangaroo fillet with crisp potatoes.

  • 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.

  • Right opposite a university, this is a fine spot for students to miss lectures in. But it also welcomes everyone with its pub classics (from parmas to porterhouse steaks) and lush rooftop bar.

  • The green heritage-style facade and mid-century decor give all the impressions of another classic pub. Yet the vegetarian menu says otherwise. The eggplant “schnitzel” and fried cauliflower stand out; the diverse beers are a bonus.

  • 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.

  • The best-named pub in town is focused squarely on two of Fitzroy’s biggest obsessions: live music and beer. There’s no kitchen or TV here, making it a no-frills hangout with good local tunes, lively conversation and many games of pool.

  • 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 19th-century spot has an Italian gastropub menu and a calming atmosphere. Come for the fried pepper chicken with ranch, hand-stretched pizza and crab linguine. Stay for the imported Italian trinkets and top-tier tiramisu.

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  • This historic 19th-century public house has stepped into the 21st with a meat-free menu – featuring miso ramen and vego lasagne – and hyperlocal beers. Yet it’s a classic pub at heart, complete with fireplaces for cooler nights.

  • Fitzroy’s oldest pub is for the old guard and the new. You’ll find footy fans gathered around the TVs on game days. When the vibe’s right, it’s like you’ve got 100 mates, 16 beer taps and better-than-usual food in your lounge room.

  • Hit this north-side favourite for Italian-leaning pub fare and strong community vibes. When the sun is shining, the retractable roof peels back and the beer garden teems with locals seeking shade among the palms.

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  • Right near Edinburgh Gardens, the Tramway is an ideal spot for post-picnic pints. It’s best known for its towering burgers, stacked high with pulled pork or nori-crusted tofu.

  • While a new wave of revamped pubs adopts the retro look, this old boozer has no need. Its old paintings, retro couches and warm red walls fit the bill. But it’s the pool table and cheesy parmas that locals return for.

  • If Johnny Cash and Nick Cave had a drink together in a Melbourne bar, it would probably be here. The menu maintains a simplicity ethos (including pizzas, parmas and burgers) alongside a succinct list of decent wines and beers.

  • This cosy bar and eating house features stained-glass windows and archways, much like a cathedral. Its objects of worship? Elevated pub classics and steaks dressed with chimichurri.

West

  • The 1926-built Bridge Hotel has heritage charm in spades – plus three crackling open fireplaces and a nostalgic fisherman’s basket for some all-out Australiana.

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  • An inclusive, accessible home for the music scene in the west. Grab a reasonably priced jug, see a gig, then plonk yourself down in the colourful beer garden.

  • A horseshoe bar takes pride of place at this 1874-built pub. It’s a real local’s local – with hearty Sunday roasts, standout steaks, and plenty of west-side pride.

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  • A contemporary pub that swells with pride and punters during footy season. It’s also ahead of the curve, with an entirely gluten-free menu of pub favourites, plus a focus on minimal-intervention wine and non-alcoholic drinks. Pints of good local beer are a given here.

  • This neighbourly pub comes from an experienced team of hospo pros. You’ll find a crowd-pleasing menu (with a top quality range of steaks), fun line-up of signature cocktails and outdoor area with a retractable roof for sunny days.

  • Turning away from hyper-polished pubs, this venue encapsulates the traditional and hearty. Experience live music, local beers, revamped pub classics, a mix of tropical and house special cocktails, and of course – a pool table.

  • Beer bottle chandeliers signal the main attraction at this west-side haunt. Order a pint served from a British-style hand pump. Or try five of the house brews on a paddle, backed by very beer-friendly mains.

  • A few steps from Werribee Station, The Park is a craft beer-lover’s haven, with an overwhelming 30 taps pouring everything from hazy IPAs to big-name brews. The comprehensive menu spans pub favourites, woodfired pizzas and more.

  • A true community pub, the Plough eschews the upmarket polish of many inner-city boozers in favour of family-friendly charm. Parents and young kids are as much the demo as your typical drinkers. Those giving it a nudge can choose to snooze in the fine accommodation upstairs.

  • A contender for the best steaks in the west. This pub has a singular focus on great beef, and you’ll find every size and cut imaginable starring on a broad menu with French influences. Pair it with a bold red or Victorian beer.

  • This art deco boozer was originally built to resemble a ship, which explains its striking, wedge-like facade. Snag a spot in the front dining room for a brewery-inspired menu of woodfired pizzas, and one unbeatable street-side vantage point.

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  • A sprawling corner pub with panoramic bay and city views. Head to the spacious dining room for flame-licked rotisserie meats, or the rooftop terrace built for lazy afternoons with a Spritz in hand.

  • Locals are treated like royalty (and remembered by name) at this fuss-free spot. Devotees return for perfected pub classics in the undercover beer garden. And it dips a toe into Americana with fried chicken and chilli fries.

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  • This polished pub, set opposite a train station, takes its wine seriously. Whether you sit in the beer garden or wine room, the steaks are a worthy pick. Locals have claimed you’ll find some of the best in the west here.

South

  • At this neighbourhood pub, enjoy traditional English fare – including Scotch eggs, fish finger sandwiches, and classic roasts – while sipping on a cocktail inspired by a cup of tea.

  • If you love beer, a visit to The Local Taphouse is non-negotiable. It’s influenced by European taverns in the 1930s, and has one of the most curated beer lists in the country. Pair those drinks with a friendly, relaxed atmosphere – both inside and on the rooftop – and you have a craft beer destination worth travelling for.

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  • You might need a map to navigate this iconic seaside pub. Across its five floors, you’ll find multiple bars and two restaurants. Not to mention three stages for live music, including the legendary Gershwin Room.

  • Lamaro’s is a love letter to long lunches and refined pub dinners. A woodfired grill lends the steaks their smokiness and char, while the rest of the menu blends classic pub fare with Southeast Asian and French flavours.

  • This beloved pub, around since the 1920s, lets you choose from two bars or an upscale restaurant. Pile in for elevated pub classics, such as juicy steak with chips stacked like Jenga. Plus, there’s a deck for sunnier days.

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  • The good times fly at this backstreet corner pub. Have a seafood feast in the greenery-surrounded glasshouse. Or wrap your hands around a big burger in the charming dining room.

  • Six light and airy spaces in one slick beachside package. The entire place opens up in summer, and the classy gastropub menu and sharp drinks offering make Half Moon the ultimate post-swim retreat.

  • It’s been around for years, but this sprawling pub still pulls a crowd with its post-Tan brunches, upscale pub fare and footy season steak nights. It serves top-tier steaks (including Wagyu), which are dry-aged in house.

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  • There’s broad appeal at this south-side boozer. It’s known for its crowd-friendly boozy brunches. But there’s also a 16-seat chef’s table for more formal celebrations, and three kinds of woodfired steak for a midweek feed.

  • This classic corner hotel, revamped by the Marquis of Lorne team, has a little Wes Anderson energy. If you look past the lofty menu and exceptional wine list, you’ll find it’s a rowdy Melbourne footy pub at heart.

  • This quirky lime castle is an improbable oasis away from bustling Chapel Street, and it has a huge courtyard. During the warmer months it’s thronged with locals, all drinking iced beverages and frosty beers.

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  • The Wayside’s front bar is for drop-in cheesy parmas and pints. The beer garden out the back is for parties and brews in the afternoon sun on Melbourne’s warmer days. And the smoky baby back ribs keep locals coming back.

  • This welcoming pub nods to old English-style boozers. There’s a heritage-style facade, horseshoe bar and hotel upstairs for overnighters. But the menu brings you back to the present with kingfish ceviche and Wagyu tartare.

  • Restaurateur Jacques Reymond’s vision of a Melbourne pub. It's more about fostering a pop-in, pop-out approach, without abandoning the flair. The food leans French, but there’s a notable showing of Aussie talent on the wine list.

  • It may have 19th-century bones, but this four-storey boozer has plenty of modern flourishes, too. Its sophisticated restaurant serves contemporary spins on Chinese cuisine, and the calibre of drinks at the lounge upstairs will fool you into thinking you’re at a CBD cocktail bar rather than a pub.

  • The iconic Prince of Wales Hotel has lived many lives. Today, it’s the best version of itself, with a beautiful island bar, bistro pub fare, and plenty of footpath seating for pints and people-watching in the sun.

  • Famed for its house-aged steaks, this 19th-century pub is a paradise for lovers of red meat and wine. Combined with a lively front bar that’s primed for a late-afternoon pint, it’s easy to see why this spot has held court for more than 40 years.

  • Two brewery owners are behind this south-side watering hole. Find pints of blood plum and feijoa sour, alongside more common lagers and pale ales. The menu delights with cacio e pepe croquettes and slow-roasted lamb shoulder.