Melbourne Top 50 Pubs in Melbourne: 20 to 11
Number 20: The Charles Weston Hotel (Brunswick)
Gotta love an old historic backstreet pub that has been given a bit of life by passionate owners. The Charles Weston (formally the Sporting Club Hotel) has the right balance of old mans pub mixed with new Brunswick hipster. It's the kind of all-purpose place where getting a meal, seeing a band, or necking pints in the beer garden can all be done successfully. It's what all backstreet pubs should aspire to. NOTE: THESE SPECIALS WILL RESUME JAN 15th 2018.
Music: Free gigs on most weekends
Beer Garden: Has a few of them! We like the one on the side.
Food: Good hearty pub fare.
Specials: The Monday kangaroo and wine night brings the peeps out.
Number 19: The Labour in Vain Hotel (Fitzroy)
In a way, the Labour in Vain is the new kid on the block. Despite opening in the 1850s, from 1926 to 1998 it was a shop, so for many alive today, the Vain is only 20 years old. What we love about the place is the music…scratch that…the free music that occurs at 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. It's when the pool table on wheels is moved, the speakers are plugged in, and local acts get the place jumping. Rock royalty such as JVG Guitar Method and Spinal Tap look-a-like Large Number 12s are regular acts and have a firm following. Another aspect to why we love it is the owners. The Leopoldseder family obviously enjoy what they do. From the patriarch, Roman, who regularly jumps behind the drums to play a few sets, to his two daughters who run a tight ship behind the bar..it has a type of old country pub feel.
BEER: Has Coopers Dark which we love.
BEER GARDEN: Great one on the roof.
MUSIC: Sat/Sun arvos.
FOOD: Sometimes has pop-ups upstairs.
SPECIALS: Cheap pints through the week.
FIRST DATE PLACE: 8/10 - Intimate in the day, rocking at night. The perfect pre-dinner gig.
Number 18 - Mrs Parmas, CBD.
We always get a bit of flack for naming this, but what is impressive is that it continuously offers an assortment of tasty and sometimes one-of-a-kind parmas as well as a great range of Victorian craft beer (many of which are still hard to find even in this day). Personally our favourite parma is the “parma-geddon”. A tasty bird topped with a chilli sauce that contains 17 ingredients, four types of chillies and takes the best part of a week to make. Now that’s love! Drop in on a Friday for happy hour!
Number 17 - The Royston (Richmond)
The Royston was one of Melbourne's pioneers in providing quality Victorian craft beer to the public. In fact after 2.5 years overseas, this was the first pub I visited when I returned, as an avenue to get up to speed. Despite its out of the way location (in terms of public transport), you'll regularly find the place almost full, such is the standard of beer and food on offer. The Wednesday night trivia has to be one of the city's best and most popular as well. Note: The Mountain Goat Brewery is across the road and open on Wednesdays and Fridays afterwork.
Beers: Awesome list. 10 taps rotating including hard to find seasonals.
Food: Better than average pub grub. We especially like the parma. A dining room is good for special occasions.
Music: Have never seen music there. Pity as it would complete the picture.
First Date: 9/10/ Quality surrounds for quality date.
Number 16 - The Tramway Hotel (Fitzroy North)
Has rocketed up the rankings from last year (29), due to their new focus on free live music and continuing standard of burgers. Many Saturdays were spent at the Tramway in times gone by. As a Fitzroy FC supporter (yes they still exist), I’d like nothing more than walking the 60 metres from the fwd pocket of the Fitzroy Football Ground to the pub, for a quiet few with the locals. We like the four outdoor tables on the street, where you can still see the footy ground. The horse drawn trams don’t come here anymore; but we do, and so should you.
Number 15 - The Retreat (Brunswick)
The Retreat is probably the only pub in Vic that I would move suburbs for, just so I could call it my local. The thing I love about the place is the nooks - the cosy front bar, ideal for tunes and propping oneself up on the bar; the bistro/bandroom where I have eaten many a parma (quality) and seen some worthy bands; and the beer garden which must rank as one of Melb's best. New food specials this year too!
Number 14 - Town Hall Hotel (North Melbourne)
From the street, the Town Hall looks like a pub you'd find in a country town like Benalla. Though when you think about it, North Melbourne as a whole has a country style to it anyway. Entering via the front bar (funnily enough) you'll instantly feel like propping yourself at the bar, though keep walking and the dining room is also comfy. Beer garden out the back completes the picture. Musicians, students and locals are the normal clientele. No dramas, just parmas.
Beers: Some good craft beers on tap and in bottles.
Food: We rate the parmas.
Music: Has live music in the comfy front bar Thursday to Sunday. We especially recommend the ultra-casual Sunday session.
Beer Garden: Yep. Has a little one out the back. Very solid.
First Date Rating: 9/10 Just kicking goals on all fronts.
Number 13 - The Stag's Head (Williamstown)
I could gladly live in Williamstown...there I said it. Not the Nelson Place Williamstown that tourists love to flock to, but the wide backstreets, bordered by overhanging branches of historic trees, which seems to have a pub on every third corner. It feels like a village somewhere in England. The pick of pubs is the tiny, lively, comfy, Stag's Head. A hobbit hovel where locals discuss whatever is in the news over very good pub fare - go the $12 Sunday Roast! Live tunes a few nights a week, add to its slow time charm.
Number 12 - Edinburgh Castle (Brunswick)
A jump from 45 last year! A whole new breed of people have been moving to the Coburg/Brunswick border for the last few years, and pubs such as the Edinburgh Castle have slotted in nicely in becoming their local. Has a bit of a student/artist vibe which we like and their unwavering support of food/drink specials as well as showcasing local bands has always endeared themselves to us.
Beers: Nice selection of craft beers. Announces tap changes on facebook.
Food: Pub Grub - Simple and Hearty. Great specials!
Beer Garden: Like your grandma's backyard from Preston. Underrated.
Bands: Often has them in the suitably intimate front bar.
Specials: Yep! Get around it!
Number 11 - Windsor Castle (Windsor)
A lime green exterior, bright pink elephants on the roof, and a whole range of interesting crap on the walls, the Windsor is not your average pub...and that's why we dig it. By now readers know that we hold backstreet pubs in high esteem, and considering this is well away from the horror that is Chapel st, it fits in nicely. Add a very worthy beer garden, lined with bamboo shoots, giving an equal blend of tackiness and Tahiti-ness, and possibly the most comfy nooks of any pub in the city, you'll see why it rates so highly. It's one of those rare places that is ideally suited for dates (first and last), cold winter nights, hot summer days and catching up with mates. Certainly our number one pub if in the South Yarra/Windsor/Prahran area.
Food: Pub grub, but good pub grub.
Beer: Not super interesting. Could improve.
Date: If they want to go here, rather than Chapel St, buy them a ring on the way home.