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Number 10 - Rainbow Hotel (Fitzroy)
Has really worked on their tap list the last few years, rotating a steady stream of hard to find labels and tasty/chewy brews. Also their food has gone up a notch - their Sunday roast one of the best in the city. Brothers/owners Adam and Jason (formerly from Lambs Go Bar) are personable publicans, who get things right and aren't afraid to have a session with customers at the end of the night. To all those that moved next door to it and then complain about the music, I hear Mernda has cheap land/house packages.
Number 9 - Railway Club Hotel (Port Melbourne)
When we think about a quality local pub south of the river that serves up some of the best steak in the city, we instantly think of this place. So do thousands of others judging by the crowds that seem to come here for a meal, watch the footy, or perhaps a date. That is its appeal. Head to the front bar to watch sports and speak loudly or the restaurant for sophisticated surrounds. Both do it perfectly.
Number 8 - The Tote Hotel (Collingwood)
You know those house parties that become a blur of cushioned rooms, loud tunes, sticky carpet and hand soap? Well that's the Tote. Just a few weeks ago I came here on a Sunday arvo and saw a dozen bands play in the front bar, the cobra lounge upstairs and the main band room. Myriad of styles with differing audiences all getting along in harmony. We also come here afterwork a few times a month, because the jukebox is awesome and the front bar is old school. Everyone is crap at pool. I was overseas when the whole "Save the Tote" thing was on, but as a pretty passive person, it would have got me off the bar stool to protest in Spring St for sure. It also played host to the happiest decade, our 10th birthday, which says a lot. Thank you Tote.
Number 7: Some Velvet Morning (Clifton Hill)
Not only do we call this the best date venue in Melbourne, but with an eclectic range of live music most nights of the week, a menu full of Greek goodness from over the road, and some very worthy craft beer and wine happy hours, SMV has rocketed to number 7 from number 15 last year Local hint: Source out the tiny beergarden out the back.
Number 6 - Reverence Hotel Footscray
As may of you know, this pub is currently for sale, but there is no better time to visit it. The former owners of the Arthouse, transported the raw sounds of angst ridden music and plonked it in the heart of Footscray. The menu is the real surprise though. Large portions of great value Mexican food (and pizzas) keep the young crowds very happy indeed. We like the pulled pork taco but there are lots of vegan options too! Tuesday is especially popular with beer/food specials. Add a few craft beers on a great horseshoe bar, and this is our top pick out West! Rock and Roll!
First Date Rating: Could be a 10/10 could be a 1/10, depending on your tastes.
Food: Better than many Mexican restaurants around town
Number 5 - The Napier Hotel, (Fitzroy)
One of our key criteria in judging pubs is showcasing live music, but the Napier have none and still got number 5. How?
By now you might realise that we are Fitzroy Football Club Supporters (no we are not hispters, we've barracked for them since birth). But didn't they go belly up back in the 90s, I hear you ask? They might no longer exist on a national level (though they have many teams playing in amateur leagues for both men and women) but they live on in pubs such as the Napier. Not a week goes by, that we don't pull up a stool at the front bar, have a cosy pint and listen to the locals talk about the good old days. Stories like how Fitzroy's FC Best & Fairest in 1996 was held at the adjacent town hall, but when the winner, Martin Pyke, was announced no one could find him..until someone checked the pub.
The food here has also entered folklore with people travelling as far as interstate just to sample their behemoth Bogan Burger. We enjoy the parma with kangaroo on top as well and in fact this in our top 3 parmas. An intimate dining area, put together with a beer hall type vibe in the open fire place side room, simply makes this a great local pub.
Beer: Has a variety of craft beers from around Australia.
Food: Incredibly well portioned pub grub.
Beer garden: Has a neat one on the side which has a retractable cover when it gets wet. We like sitting on the tables on the footpath though, looking towards the majestic Fitzroy Town Hall, one of the best buildings in Melbourne.
First Date Place: 10/10 - If they love the place, you should love them.
Number 4 - Palace Hotel (South Melbourne)
The Palace Hotel was taken over by the Great Northern Hotel alumni a few years back and like its north-of-the-river counterpart, its comfy low-key surrounds won us over pretty fast. The front bar, with fox footy mind you, have the old school stools and hooks, ideal for propping one self up and talking absolute shite. The tap list showcases hard to find craft beer (big tick) including some one off collaborations that I have never seen before (which is rare for barflys like us). The bistro out the back is a little more done up, suitable for families, and offers traditional pub fare specialising in comfort food (get the lamb cutlets). The beer garden (with own entrance from street) is a session experience waiting to happen. The customary pub dog (Billy) wanders throughout the rooms, basking in attention. Overall a worthy new inclusion in our Top 5.
Number 3 - Great Northern Hotel Carlton North
Is the Great Northern the quintessential local? Picture it; a beer list with 22 taps that rivals the best in the state (they even grow their own hops in the beer garden), a front bar ideal for footy and jargon, a large bistro area where quality pub grub (their Sunday Roasts have taken the menu to another level) can be woofed down, and a beer garden that ranks in our top 5 in Melbourne.
Specials: Mondays are Parmas, Tuesdays are Steaks and recently they added a Burger special for Thursdays.
Number 2 - The Fox Hotel (Collingwood)
Our offices used to be 13 seconds from the Fox's front door. It was our second lounge room, our second kitchen, our second …toilet. It is unique in that it's so flexible. A beer on one's own at the bar, a party on the roof with dozens, or a candle lit dinner in the dining room with romantic intentions - all seem perfectly suited to it. Add an excellent beer list created with passion, great hearty food that's far better than the average pub (go the Roast special on Sundays) and a bee rgarden that's in our top 5 in Melbourne and you can't go wrong. I always seem to play pool really well here also, and I'm crap at pool.
Beer: Hugely impressive beer list. The taps usually promote Victorian craft beer.
Beer garden: A small outside area but a killer rooptop one that looks over the chimneys of urban Collingwood.
Specials: We come for the 2 course Sunday lunch at least once a month. Incredible value. See specials here.
Music: Has a band or two in the front room during the week.
Number 1 - Drunken Poet (West Melbourne)
There is a bit of graffiti in the toilet of The Drunken Poet (smallest toilet in Melbourne it has to be said) that reads "(My Surname) It's time to go home". Now since my name is somewhat rare (and Irish) I'm wondering if it was directed at me or perhaps some transient Irish backpacker. It was a big surprise at the time, and the bloke outside the door was probably wondering why I shouted "What the Hell?!". Whatever the case, having lived In Ireland I can say that this is the most authentic Irish drinking hole I have been to in Australia. In fact, the Irish Times said it was one of the best Irish pubs in the world. It's small, cramped, but filled with character and characters. It has always showcased craft beers, it has always showcased local musicians (I'm talking about every night!) and it has one of the best publicans in the business. Do they do food? Yes they do jaffles (toasties) but the Vic Market is 20 metres away also. If you've never been, then go. If you have, then revisit. Simple. Introducing the Number ONE pub in Melbourne!
12 Jan 2018 10:56 PMUpdated
19 Jan 2018 1:22 AM
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