Even before the railway stretched from Melbourne to Sale in 1878, the Criterion Hotel was busy keeping the local community well fed and watered. Built in 1865, this stalwart underwent significant restoration in 2010 ensuring its reputation as one of Victoria’s largest, longest-standing 19th-century hotels remained intact.
Affectionately known as “The Cri”, the pub is frequented by locals and travellers who drop by for a Lightfoot & Sons rosé, refreshing Sailors Grave ale or Wild Dog gin cocktail on the grand balcony.
While the classic burger, parma and fish’n’chips are all present on the lunch menu, there’s a vegan falafel bowl and pumpkin bruschetta for those after gluten-free or plant-based meals. The dinner menu is more extensive; there’s lamb naan, miso-caramel eggplant, or sweet potato and black bean empanadas to start. Chase them with Szechuan duck or house-made gnocchi.
The kitchen is dedicated to sourcing local produce where possible, with meat and seafood from local butchers and fishers. Save room for a cheese course so you can sample Maffra Cheese Co’s brie and cheddar and Tarago River Cheese Company’s Shadows of Blue.
There’s live music on Friday and Saturday evenings, and accommodation upstairs.