Like Fitzroy, Richmond has a proud working-class history. This background is still evident in the narrow, one-way streets, even if most of the small worker’s cottages have now been renovated and occupied by young professionals or wealthy downsizers.

The north end, along busy Victoria Street, is the last real holdout against gentrification. Known as Little Saigon, it’s been a destination for authentic, affordable Vietnamese cuisine for decades. For many residents, easy access to steaming bowls of pho and crispy banh xeo pancakes is one of the suburb’s biggest draws.

Another is proximity to the ‘G and other stadiums. Richmond is the place to be if you’re a footy or cricket fanatic. On game days, the area’s many pubs – another vestige of its working class history – are reliably filled with fans grabbing a few pints before the first bounce. One pub, the Corner Hotel, has been a live music venue since the 1940s and hosted names such as Mick Jagger, David Gilmour, the White Stripes, Ben Harper, Crowded House and Queens of the Stone Age.

Bridge Road was once a major retail destination, particularly for clothing. It bottomed out in August 2014 and has been slowly transforming into a dining destination since. Anchovy and Minamishima, two of the city’s best restaurants, call the strip home. On the more casual end, Swan Street hosts well-loved diners like Hanoi Hannah New Quarter and The Modern Eatery.

The south end of Church Street, close to the Yarra, is one of the better places in Melbourne to shop for furniture and homewares.

Restaurants

  • This sunny corner spot service bistro classics and tartines – the French-style open sandwiches. Come for a fancy crab tartine or satisfying steak frites. Plus, a provedore where you can stock up on fancy staples.

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  • 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.

  • This cosy north-side spot is helmed by a chef who's no stranger to a Michelin-starred kitchen. His menu deals in the kind of seafood-heavy fare you might find at a bistro in the south of France, backed by a concise list of new-wave European wines.

  • Everything is made from scratch at this wine bar from a young owner-chef with experience at Michelin star restaurants. The menu changes each week (but retains a nostalgic, familiar slant) and the walls are covered with Australian art.

  • If you’re after Italian with a fun, neighbourhood feel, head here. Restaurateur Chris Lucas’s buzzing southside spot turns out pizzas alongside salumi and traditional, crowd-pleasing pastas.

  • A slick all-day eatery from the Reymond siblings, with an emphasis on relaxed yet elegant dining.

  • Generous, home-style Laotian food is the draw at this relaxed restaurant from chef Thi Le and partner Jia-Yen Lee. Roll in for crisp rice salad with sour pork and freshly grated coconut, and whole spatchcock with pineapple salsa.

  • Inside this banh mi bar from the Jeow team, a woodfire hearth turns out turmeric chicken, jungle pork sausage and Manchurian pumpkin to fill the crusty baguettes.

  • Sip Martinis while overlooking 360-degree views of Melbourne, indulge in classic pizzas and pillowy house-made gnocchi or descend into the neon-lit basement for a signature late-night cheeseburger.

  • The menu at this new-wave Japanese diner is far from traditional, but the flavour-punching dishes stay true to the simplicity of Japanese cuisine. Expect cold dishes, donburi and hits from the Hibachi grill.

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  • The hushed, reverent atmosphere here is well suited to owner-chef Koichi Minamishima's awe-inspiring knife skills. He works with both local seafood and fish flown direct from Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo to produce his peerless sushi. This is the best Japanese restaurant in Melbourne.

  • Casual, non-traditional Mexican served quickly, sans any hospo pomp. Grab a chargrilled chicken burrito on your lunch break or sample street snacks and a couple of cervezas for a more casual dinner.

  • If it ain't broke, don’t fix it. That’s the thinking at this almost 60-year-old steakhouse. The impressive four-course set menu leaves you with one choice: your cut of steak. Otherwise, sit back and let the experienced waitstaff impress.

  • Hearty, diner-style burgers stand out in this former charcoal chicken shop. Only two people know the recipe for the secret marinade – which laces the Angus beef patties with umami flavour. Enjoy burgers on a pillowy brioche bun alongside staple sides such as crisp fried chicken and fries.

  • Neon signage and colourful murals line the walls of this playful Thai eatery. Enjoy modern takes on traditional Thai favourites – including soft-shell crab sliders, a hearty pad thai and flavourful curries.

  • The name says it all at this cosy, no-fuss Vietnamese diner. Here, they serve up some of the best pho on a street brimming with options. All the classic elements – tender meat, layered broth and fresh garnishes – keep the fans coming back for more. Their diner in the CBD is also worth your time.

  • You might have seen the crimson Peking ducks hanging in the window. This affordable, bustling Cantonese barbeque and seafood restaurant is a Victoria Street institution. Rotating specials are handwritten on the wall, but don’t go past the Peking duck pancakes and char siew (barbeque pork).

  • Modern Greek food (dubbed “Gringlish”) from a former *Masterchef* contestant. Share plates might include soft pita, crisp and melty saganaki, or slow-roasted lamb shoulder. Enjoy a gamut of Greek wines and beers – plus ouzo if you’re so inclined.

  • Soft, blistering woodfired pizza and pillowy gnocchi are staples at this authentic Italian pizzeria. The flour, specialty cheeses and cured meats are imported from Italy. If you make it to their bottomless weeknight dinner, it’s best to tuck your napkin into your collar.

  • It’s Vietnamese, but not as you know it. Slide into a booth and order fragrant share plates that might include banh mi fingers, beer tartare with pho jelly, and a playful take on caviar. Plus, a suite of Australian wines and beers (and Vietnamese lagers for good measure).

  • This unusual, labyrinthine pub – with a convincing replica of cobbled street running right through it – is reliably packed on weekends. Find your way upstairs for commercial house and pop and a fairly intimate dance floor.

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  • The owners at this sleek osteria show their Italian roots with varieties of filled pasta that hail from the Lombardy region in Italy’s north – where the owners are from. In a nod to their second home Down Under, there’s a big focus on local produce and a wine list featuring all-Australian drops.

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  • The team behind Toji Sake delivers hibachi-grilled yakitori skewers, Wagyu with beef-fat butter, and crunchy tofu-skin duck gyoza alongside sake Margaritas and cold Japanese beer.

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  • Colourful walls, colourful food. That's the proposition at this loosely South American eatery with a strong vegetarian slant.

  • Known for two Vietnamese specialties: sizzling pancake and steamed rice paper rolls filled with minced pork and wood-ear mushrooms.

  • Basic Roman-style pizza done well.

  • All-day dining room with an expansive menu.

  • The union of two foodie friends in one dining room.

Cafes

  • Warkop is a snug, laid-back sandwich shop headed by Indonesian chef Barry Susanto. On the menu, you’ll find a line-up of bready classics, from the aromatic chicken sanga, to a beef pastrami with coconutty rendang sauce, and a soft grilled brioche with custard-like coconut jam.

  • Croissants are baked four times a day at this popular bakery, which has been a locals’ favourite since 2018. Go for its hot coffee alongside doughnuts, fancy cakes by the slice, boeuf bourguignon pies and pork and fennel sauso rolls.

  • An all-day every-day cafe with a solid list of brunch cocktails.

  • At this “cellar door” for coffee you can taste up to five single-origin brews in a single visit.

  • A classic sandwich shop with elevated ingredients and credentials.

  • Providing the Richmond community with its daily newspaper, milk and bread since 1956. Go for classics alongside Mediterranean-style plates like Turkish cilbir and Greek kaski. Plus, Small Batch coffee and nostalgic thickshakes.

  • A social-enterprise cafe upholding the idea of a fair go.

  • This peachy space is designed for takeovers by cakers, floral artists and other creatives. Expect lacy vintage cakes, floral sculptures and watercolour cakes, plus workshops, tastings and lots of collaborations.

  • Stop in to this sleek, concrete-clad cafe from the team behind Fitzroy favourite Burnside. It's serving up Seven Seeds coffee, snatch-and-grab sandwiches and stellar bagels.

  • Run by a sibling duo, Bissel B Bagels is an emerald-hued Richmond bagelry serving soft, fluffy stacked bagels inspired by a love of all things New York.

  • A local landmark from Melbourne cafe royalty.

  • Join the queue at this locally-minded sandwich shop for fried chicken sangas on shokupan, or a classic Reuben featuring Uncle’s Smallgoods pastrami. Pair with a coffee on tap (served hot or cold) and you've got a hot contender in the city's sandwich boom.

  • A Noma alumnus – and one of the city's best bakers – has a sleek operation inside the Richmond Traders precinct, turning out exemplary European-style sourdough breads, Danish pastries, cookies and more.

  • Like the milk bars of yore; a place to drop in for coffee, breakfast or a sandwich.

  • This Greek deli’s third-generation owner is serving contemporary takes on his mother’s recipes.

  • Enter for superb single origin and filter, or invest in a $10 shot of espresso.

  • Taste, watch and learn at this longstanding coffee roaster's shiny, voyeuristic HQ.

  • It’s easy to while away an entire afternoon here on a wet weekend ... if you can find it.

  • As solid as the immovable pillar in the middle of the seating area.

  • 120 seats and a huge menu to match. This is one seriously ambitious cafe.

  • This backstreets spot is dedicated to using the freshest local and organic produce in a way few others are.

  • Simplicity and class are the hallmarks of this cafe.

  • A tranquil cafe on an otherwise hectic strip.

  • Camel-milk lattes and bowls of crickets. This isn't your average cafe.

  • It’s designed to feel like your lounge room. But you could never make food this good at home.

  • Daytime staples and intriguing sit-down dishes.

  • Indian-inspired dishes matched with Padre coffee.

Bars

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • Victoria’s second-oldest craft brewery is still one of its best. Head here for pizza and drinks to find out for yourself.

  • The father-daughter duo behind Brogan’s Way believe there’s a gin for everyone. Yours may well be the distillery’s Strawberries and Cream gin, served in a Martini or G&T. Watch the distillers in action over plates of crisp, European-style flatbreads and gin-friendly bar snacks.

  • Grant Morley was a scientist before he ran a brewery. His scientific precision shines through at his 70s-designed brewpub – where you’ll find tropical-tasting hazy IPAs, American pale ales, English dark milds and more. You can even enjoy a pint with food from one of the excellent nearby restaurants.

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  • A charming, light-filled wine bar from two Melbourne hospitality veterans. Expect French-leaning fare driven by razor-sharp technique. Plus an excellent wine list spanning Australia, France, Italy and Germany.

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  • Dark tones and dim lights set the mood at this casual yet sophisticated wine and cocktail bar. Bar food might include imported cheese, salumi or kingfish crudo. Enjoy their humble dishes alongside classic cocktails such as the Singapore Sling, and more seasonal creative mixes.

  • This former Commonwealth Bank branch is now 200-seat double-level bar. Come here for classic pub grub and beers. It's also well known for its rooftop terrace, which plays host to bottomless brunches during the day and boozy cocktail session in the evenings.

  • A Cajun-inspired bar with a serious approach to booze.

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  • Tricked up Cuban cocktails in a vibrant space.

Shops

  • This curated Californian vintage store feels like it’s on Melrose Avenue in LA, not in the middle of Richmond. Whether you've set your heart on a pair of original cowboy boots, a bejewelled bolero, US army dead stock or some classic Levi’s, you’re unlikely to leave empty-handed.

  • An ambitious bar and bottle shop showcasing rare drops from around the world. Buy a bottle, pay corkage and park on a stool at the long countertop bar, or hop on a three-glass wine flight if you're feeling adventurous.

  • A high-end furniture showroom featuring European labels such as Cassina, Kettal, Moroso and Poltrona Frau. There's even a Le Corbusier on display.

  • This shop is stocked full of outerwear staples from the Melbourne label, which is best known for its winter coats. Think classic cuts in wool-cashmere blends, and reversible jackets made from faux shearling.

  • Grab-and-go health food for the post-gym set.

  • Creative nail art in Richmond.

  • A butcher and cafe where provenance means everything.

  • This local and environmentally conscious furniture company has a flagship store in Richmond you’ll wish you could live in.

  • Outlet number two for one Melbourne’s first beer specialists.