It's worth taking some time to make the journey south of the border: there are plenty of coffee stops on the way, but also exceptional food, great bars to spend an evening, fantastic art and places to simply spend a glorious spring day. That said, Melbourne tends to exist largely under the surface, with the best parts hidden in laneways, warehouses, up winding, rickety stairs. So use this guide, put together by our Melbourne editor, as a starting point, and always feel free to get a little lost. Have a great weekend. [fold]
Dukes Coffee Roasters
Having just opened their third cafe in Docklands, Dukes Coffee Roasters have maintained a consistent following since they first opened on Chapel Street in 2008. Roasting their own blends in-house on a 15kg Joper Portuguese roaster, the coffee that gets furiously pumped out (their machine doesn’t get a break) is some of the best in the city. The menu changes around, but the avocado hummus toast with poached eggs, dukkah and candied bacon is a religious breakfast experience.
Sitting in a converted old warehouse in Carlton is Seven Seeds, Melbourne’s high temple of coffee. Love it or hate it, this is the heart of Melbourne’s progressive and obsessive coffee culture, complete with a state-of-the-art roasting facility, cupping and training programs, gadgetry and of course, a packed cafe.
The latest concept from chef Andrew McConnell and his team, Cumulus Up sits in a spacious city loft above Cumulus Inc. on Flinders Lane. Try something new from the concise but impressive wine list, order a couple of snacks (like the duck waffle) at the bar that faces the exposed kitchen, or enjoy a relaxed, languid dinner with friends and just order as you go.
Dubbed as the “slightly more mature yet promiscuous older sister” of Hanoi Hannah, nearby Vietnamese hawker restaurant, Saigon Sally offers locals a more refined selection of Vietnamese favourites, without compromising on affordability and fun. Don’t try to leave without trying a couple of the desserts like the crème caramel or the banh bo nut – served with a tiny umbrella.
Perched alongside [City Wine Shop](http://www.broadsheet.com.au/melbourne/nightlife/directory/restaurant/cafe/bar/city-wine-shop at the top of town, Gelateria Primavera churns their gelato daily, using the best ingredients of the season. The old-school pozzetti cabinets keep the gelato enclosed in small, refrigerated ‘wells’ to keep it perfectly fresh. Classics (chocolate, fior di latte) sit alongside experimental flavours like peach and basil sorbetto or chilli-laced salted caramel. While you’re there, be sure to pop into adjoined Spring Street Grocer, or descend the spiral staircase into the incredible cheese cellar below.
Taking its cue from Italian espresso bars, this tiny, standing room-only cocktail bar feels distinctly European old-world. With a focus on aperitifs, cocktails are taken from Robert Vermeire’s 1922 Cocktails and How to Mix Them, expertly and artfully poured into beautiful, old-fashioned glassware. A place to stop for a cocktail or two before moving on to dinner in the city.
Fitzroy’s The Everleigh follows suit from most other cocktail bars in Melbourne – the harder it is to find, the better the drinks are likely to be. Daisies, fixes, fizzes, old-fashioned, sours and sazeracs are made to perfection, and if you’re feeling indecisive the bartenders will happily create something tailored just for you.
This place is an absolute dive, and that’s how we like it. A dingy, nautical-themed dive bar may seem a strange angle for a bar, but goddamn it works. The strangest part really is that this murky, neon-lit haunt also happens to serve up some pretty great drinks with all the signs of quality bartending – hand-cut ice, juice pressed to order and a solid list of tropical cocktails that would make any mariner cry. You can stay for dinner too – deep-fried pickles, wings, philly cheese steaks and burgers await.
Run by brothers Nick and Chris Schaerf, Double Monk has such an awe-inspiring, sizeable, floor-to-ceiling stock of English shoes that when you walk in you feel as if the universe just had one big material upgrade. Stocking the highest quality men’s shoes brands like Crockett & Jones, Edward Green, George Cleverley and more, prices are high but the quality is as exquisite as it gets. Plus, there’s a well-stocked bar and some comfy armchairs while you take it all in.
Stocking a beautifully-selected mix of breakthrough and proven designers, Alice Euphemia has fostered the best in local design talent since its opening in 1997. With labels like Christopher Esber, Romance Was Born, Kuwaii and more, some items challenge, others inspire; but if you’re after the next big thing in women’s fashion, this should be your first stop.
Nestled on the third floor of Curtin House, Metropolis Bookshop invites curious city wanders to explore a colour and surprising collection of books spanning international art, design, architecture and alternative culture. Stop by Cookie and Toff in Town on your way up, and if you have the stamina for it, keep going up to level six for some Mexican-themed fun at Mesa Verde.
The National Gallery of Victoria
Founded in 1861, the National Gallery of Victoria is Australia’s oldest art museum and holds over 70,000 works of art. If you’re arriving after 22 November, be sure to catch the anticipated Melbourne Now, the NGV’s most ambitious exhibition in its 152-year history, that hasn’t been without its share of controversy in the lead-up.
It seems the past few years have spawned a small wave of independent cinemas – Speakeasy, Valhalla, Shadow Electric – but ACMI has been at the heart of Australian cinema, international film festivals and world-class exhibitions since 2009. Spectacle: The Music Video Exhibition will be showing from Thursday 26 September, showcasing a spectrum of over 300 clips spanning nine decades.
Picnic in the Royal Botanical Gardens
The weather is warming up here now, and when that first springtime sun comes out it seems the whole city seems to want to stop and just soak it up. Pack a little basket with some goodies and just stretch out on the grass with a blanket. Just watch out for the hungry swans waddling up to say hello.
The Olsen Hotel
Set at the quiet end of busy Chapel Street in South Yarra, The Olsen offers 229 five-star suites infused throughout with the works of Australian landscape artist Dr John Olsen. With features like a glass bottom pool, state-of-the-art gym and beautiful art and sculptures all around, you might just want to take a day to unwind right here. The Olsen Hotel is a part of the Art Series Hotels, which also have The Cullen on Commercial Road and The Blackman on St Kilda Road.
If it’s a city-centric hotel you’re looking for, it doesn’t get much better than Hotel Lindrum, resting right at the Spring Street end of Flinders Street in the CBD. A stone’s throw from restaurants like Gazi, Mamasita and Cumulus Inc, you won’t need to venture too far for dinner.