It’s on its way, that one day that heralds spring like few others. It’s an excuse to have a flutter that encourages us to put on our glad rags and dress up for an afternoon of fashion, horses, ridiculous hats in what might even be written off as the long lunch that we never return to the office from. That’s right – November 6 is Melbourne Cup Day!

Sure it’s not in our fair city, but that’s no excuse not to get into the spirit and make the most of the Australia’s biggest race. While we may not be trackside, or sipping bubbles in a sponsored enclosure, that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time. Because sometimes it’s not just about the race, it’s the experience around it that counts. So with that in mind – and with our fancy duds on and winning sweep in hand – here’s our pick of places that are not just open, but doing the city proud on Melbourne Cup Day.

  1. Barrio Chino is doing Melbourne Cup Mexican style, with a Mexican Wild West theme and six-course lunch (choose from two menus with bubbles or margaritas). TVs will be screening the big race, there are lucky door prizes and best-dressed prizes too. $70pp.

  • Get it on poolside at the rooftop Pool Club at Ivy. DJs and cocktails and no grass for your heels to contend with. Chandon and canapés and $125pp for the afternoon – write it off, because you’re not going back to the office.
    Level 4, Ivy, 320 George Street, Sydney

  • Enjoy some three-hatted fine dining at Est. Mumm vintage bubbles and a three-course lunch by chef Peter Doyle. It’s a civilised affair. $195pp.
    Level 1, Establishment, 252 George Street, Sydney

  • It might not be the Ascot races, but you can enjoy some UK flair for race day. Bistrode CBD will be serving up a three-course menu from chef Jeremy Strode that includes oysters and Moet & Chandon. $125pp.
    Level 1, Hotel CBD, 52 King Street, Sydney

  • For something more low-key, hit up Thai canteen Ms.G’s. They’re putting on a banquet feast of chef’s favourite dishes and signature cocktails (think slushies instead of champers). $60pp.

  • Over to Surry Hills, The Beresford will be packing out their courtyard with cup day shenanigans for an Italian buffet lunch with drinks on arrival. $70pp.

  • The Forresters is sorting it out with a four-course lunch with pizzas, mains, desserts, beers and bubbles included. There’s lots of TVs to see the action, TAB and sweepstakes. $80pp.

  • Just around the corner, 4 Fourteen will be doing a four-course lunch, with screens for the race, sweeps and prizes and a flute of Duval-Leroy Brut Reserve bubbles on arrival. $95.

  • Big sister to 4 Fourteen, the Four in Hand will be getting into the spirit with screens for the race, prizes for best dressed and a three-course lunch for $120pp.

  • Head into The Rocks for lunch at The Cut Bar & Grill, with full TAB facilities, sparkling on arrival, four-course set lunch and (of course) big screens to watch all the race day action. $120pp

  • Looking for a water view? Then celebrate the Cup at BLACK by ezard in The Star complex. Five-course menu, matched bubbles and race screening, if you can take your eyes off the water. $150pp.
    Level G, Harbourside, The Star, 80 Pyrmont St, Pyrmont

  • Over in Balmain, The Riverview is serving three-course lunches in the dining room for $75pp, or a two course lunch downstairs at $55pp. There will be big screens and sweeps, but the best part is that they’re awarding prizes for best dressed. And Balmain has a reputation for going hard on Cup day.
    29 Birchgrove Road, Balmain

  • On the North Shore, do it beach side at Public Dining Room where they’ll be offering a three-course lunch with live coverage of the race, sweepstakes, lucky door and best hat prizes. $95pp.
    2a The Esplanade, Balmoral

  • And at the other end of Balmoral beach, the team at Bathers Pavilion are also offering three-course lunch, with raffles, best hat prizes and cup sweeps too. $95pp.

  • Finally, looking to head out of town? Then hit up Wharf Road in Nowra. Not only is it one of the most chic places to open down on the South Coast, but they will be doing sweeps, best dressed and, of course, screens for the big race. $65pp.
    10 Wharf Road, Nowra