Salty sea air, beautiful architecture and a relaxed bohemian feel. There's no other suburb in Melbourne quite like it.

There’s something about a beachside suburb that cultivates a special atmosphere. Perhaps it’s the open water views, or the diversity of a metropolis on the edge of the ocean. But ever since the railway was built in 1857, people have been flocking to St Kilda.

In summer the beachfront is magnetic; locals and visitors walk, ride, scooter and cycle along the waterfront. Architectural relics such as the Palais Theatre and Luna Park abut contemporary designs such as the Stokehouse in a melding of old and new.

A handful of health-focused cafes sate the good intentions of an early summer morning, though there’s nothing more pleasing than sinking an icy beer over a late lunch of fish and chips along the water’s edge. The suburb has an abundance of bars and pubs pairing food with drink, from wine and cheese, to tacos and mojitos, and burgers with beers. And with locals and tourists alike winding up and down Acland Street of a warm summer evening, the atmosphere can easily turn to party vibes on a weekend – even as the foreshore remains a laid-back oasis.

Restaurants

  • Here, an ex-Longsong chef makes home-style Thai fare inspired by her grandmother's food stall. Find dishes that blend Thai and Western techniques, like prawn ravioli in a tom yum soup, alongside pad see ew and massaman lamb shanks.

  • This downstairs iteration of the St Kilda institution serves European-inspired dishes in a laid-back setting. Go for family-sized bowls of pasta and tiramisu masquerading as bombe alaska, all next to a seaside view.

  • Seafood and stunning ocean views – it's no surprise this is such an institution.

  • Expect longstanding classics like margarita pizza and tiramisu, alongside local seafood and views of the bay. Plus, a St Kilda-only cocktail made with lemon sorbet and prosecco.

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  • Since 1998, this south-side restaurant has become a seafood institution. The unassuming bayside restaurant offers mussels, oysters, garlic king prawns, grilled snapper, chilli crabs and, of course, it's own steaming namesake.

  • This 1915 pub offers something for all across two distinct spaces. Visit the flaming grillhouse for whole flounder and Karen Martini’s lauded Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Or see its more-casual sibling for pub-style plates.

  • 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.

  • Enjoy an authentic Cantonese banquet with a view, set above Melbourne’s iconic Esplanade Hotel. Pair duck pancakes, spicy pork chilli wontons and sesame prawn toast with a fusion cocktail. Yum Cha Sundays here are a highlight.

  • Settle into the minimalist dining room, or take a seat on the rooftop, at this lively Latin-inspired eatery. Go for smoky bite-sized arepas, slow-cooked chargrilled seafood and three kinds of tostadas. Plus, more than 50 types of tequila and mezcal.

  • White-jacketed waiters delivering discreet, attentive service and a consistently excellent menu have made Rinaldo Di Stasio's intimate dining room a pilgrimage for lovers of fine Italian food. The seasonal set menu is an excellent way to dive in.

  • The name says it all.

  • The chef behind the pans at this all-day diner worked in some of London's top restaurants for over two decades. And you can taste that experience across even the most casual dishes.

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  • This spot just off St Kilda Beach is one of Melbourne's original Mexican restaurants, and it's still one of its best. That's thanks to an uncompromising commitment to quality ingredients. The drinks list, which includes a handful of Margaritas, complements the fun, shareable food.

  • Mediterranean-skewed dining and a space full of modern flourishes.

  • Upstairs at the St Kilda Sea Baths, Captain Baxter sits as a ship’s captain would, staring out over the open waters of Port Phillip Bay. It’s set within a space that feels like a 1920s bungalow in the Bahamas – with a fun drinks list and a seafood-centric menu to match.

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  • With an impressive collection of art covering the walls, Cicciolina feels like a dinner party in an eccentric painter's home – and it’s almost always full. Diners young and old are drawn back for its simple Italian cuisine and lengthy wine list. Enjoy drops from Italy, France and beyond from the bar out the back while you wait for a table.

  • Meaning ‘community’ in Japanese, Machi is inspired by its St Kilda location and eclectic culture. Come here for excellent gyoza, Wagyu beef and Kyoto-inspired dishes.

  • This striking, forest-themed dining room has been a destination for pizza and other Italian classics since 2004.

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  • This personable institution has been around since 1995 and retains a huge base of regular customers who love its classic, consistent menu.

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  • Gluten-free naan? Indian nachos? You can find them here.

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  • Artisanal 12-inch pizza bliss south of the Yarra.

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  • Mexican with a San Francisco flavour.

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  • A fromagerie in St Kilda and Carlton with a selection of cheeses to rival all others – and a late night licence that sets it apart.

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  • This pizza place is quick, cheap and tasty.

  • Fast food without the mystery-meat aspect on Barkly Street.

  • Stay up late with pintxos and wine.

  • There’s only one rule at this Spanish eatery: no cutting corners.

Cafes

  • Daniel Chirico is one of Melbourne's best bakers, and his bread is some of the best in town. But it's his wildly popular cannoli and bombolini that have kept us coming back for all these years. Just be sure to get in early, almost everything here tends to sell out well before close.

  • The Sydney bakery's St Kilda shop sells “Australia’s most Instagrammed dessert”, as well as savoury pastries such as a ratatouille danish and an asparagus and ‘nduja number with a spicy kick.

  • Bagels and bread are just the beginning.

  • Vegetarian for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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  • A cosy community cafe in St Kilda that has local support...for good reason.

  • A Carlisle Street, St Kilda icon.

  • Good for what ails you.

Bars

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A local couple worked at some of Melbourne’s top wine bars before opening this this laid-back, homey spot. Come for freshly shucked oysters, rotating pintxos, lesser-known wines and its eclectic record collection.

  • This bar is a true local’s haunt. Friends, family and neighbours gather out front or up at the timber-clad bar to have a yarn, sip on a Victorian ale and order in food from nearby restaurants.

  • 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.

  • A Euro-inspired wine bar, wine shop and deli set beneath The Prince Hotel. Enjoy classic Australian and European wines; cheese, charcuterie and small snacking plates from the deli; and descend to one of Melbourne’s most impressive wine cellars.

  • A live music venue for over 60 years.

  • A swish cocktail bar on the uupermost level of the the Esplanade Hotel. Say hi to the concierge for permission to come up for champagne, whisky and old-world atmosphere.

  • A polished bar by the team behind right next door Café Di Stasio.

  • The reincarnation of Fitzroy Street’s famous George Hotel is complete.

  • An impressively designed haunt welcoming locals, rascals and the like.

  • A “Kubrick-y” bar next to the Astor Theatre.

Shops

  • This iconic bakery has served Eastern European cakes and pastries the same way since 1934. Try its cheesecake (which follows a 100-year-old Polish recipe), stick around for a coffee and soak up the frozen-in-time interiors.

  • Function and aesthetics go hand in hand at this light-filled, Scandinavian-leaning homewares store.

  • As upmarket as butchers come.

  • There’s fruity granita, all-natural gelato and a chocolate fountain at this beachside gelateria.

  • A specialty grocery store in St Kilda, boasts healthy produce and the suburb’s first micro cheese lab.

  • A patch of Eden for the aspiring kitchen gardener.

  • Custom-made Australian furniture and vintage pieces from Europe.

  • Classic sneakers and sportswear since 1997.