Melbourne Top 50 Pubs in Melbourne: 30 to 21
Number 30 - Railway Hotel (South Melbourne)
Following our trend for choosing local backstreet pubs that are packed full of life, this little beauty has maintained a local following for those in search of good steaks, a hidden gem of a beer garden, and a very chat-able front bar. Ignore Clarendon St and head here we say. Just one of the picks South Melbourne will receive in our Top 50 countdown.
Beer Garden: Has the thatched roof theme. Tacky and tasteful at the same time.
Beers: Beer list could be more expansive. Get more craft in please!Music: Needs more live bands.
Food: A small pub grub menu that does everything well.
Specials: A quality Friday drinks specials but we like the burger lunch most days of the week too!
Number 29 - Sherlock Holmes Inn (CBD)
At the start of this countdown, we discussed the criteria of how we choose our list, with one of the things we really liked being family owned and operated. For the last seven years, husband and wife team Gary and Melanie Kirwan have been commuting from Macedon offering a real pub experience within a busy CBD. Being underground with no windows, it’s a snugly hovel in the winter, and with limited phone reception, a great respite from the world. Their trivia on Tuesdays is the city’s best we think as well. They have just opened up a bar above called Dr Watsons, which the city workers have seemed to have taken to.
Beers: 18 taps with some local craft types and some UK ales.
Food: Hearty English Food. Bangers and mash is our go to dish.
Specials: Parma and Pint deals on Wednesdays is a keeper.
Date Place: For a winter lunch, yep.
Number 28 - The Union Hotel Brunswick
The Union, out in the wilderness of Brunswick West (well technically it is Brunswick but it feels very west), is the quintessential local pub. Where revelers have pints of craft beer on the footpath tables, just in front of a wide open door, that looks through the table area, right to the stage, that promotes quality local music.
A little front bar, is ideal for watching the footy/cricket to the right. The urban wilderness of the beer garden is a cracker as well and one of the city's most underrated. Heading here at 4pm each Sunday for some tunes, then a parma, then a final pint on the footpath is one of our great pleasures.
Beer: We always tend to go the White Rabbit Dark Ale. Also has Toohey's Old which is rare on tap these days.
Food: Decent parmas and pub fare.
Beer garden: Jungle theme and one of the most underated in the city.
First Date Place: 10/10 - Loved by families, hipsters, locals and everyone really.
Number 27 - The Gem (Collingwood)
Appropriately named, the Gem is a rockabilly type pub that many call Collingwood's real local. It's the kind of place where tattooed couples tie their sheepdogs outside and talk about their graphic design jobs inside. The small front bar is a haven for many locals looking to get in from the cold, while the backroom eating area (food is top notch by the way) is good for groups. It's also one of the best bars around just to prop yourself on and there is no TV to be distracted. A sound choice for people wanting to catch up.
Beer Garden: Has a few tables outside on the street popular with smokers.
Beers: Mostly Lion Nathan stuff.
Food: Really good steak sandwiches and other interesting creations. Texas style BBQ on weekends is the go.
Music: Puts on free live music in the front bar some days of the week. Tends to be blues, rockabilly type. Great for chilling out.
Specials: Pint specials work
First Date Rating: 7.5/10 Intimate enough and the kind of music that says "I'm a local".
Number 26 - The Brandon Hotel (Carlton North)
It's time to spill the beans on one of our favourite Sunday Sessions pubs in town. The Brandon, nestled down one of Carlton North's side streets, is a local pub with quality food and an unwavering support for local craft beers. Although they have quality specials most days of the week, it's their Sundays where patrons can get $7 pints of all taps and a changing weekly spit roast lunch or dinner for $20 that people flocking.
Number 25 - The Curtin Hotel (Carlton)
A big space upstairs goes down a treat for a late night noise session and the old school front bar with its graffiti ridden toilets and dodgy booths, good for necking bottles and necking mind you, is what a music pub should be. Due to its proximity to RMIT you'll often find a student crowd there which keeps it lively. Historically, being opposite the Trades Hall, you can only imagine the deals that went down at this place.
Beer garden: Tables on Lygon St.
Food: Pop up Kitchens throughout the year. Currently Sonny's Fried Chicken and Burgers.
Beers: Good range of beers on tap.
Music: Free live music in the front bar a few times a week and lots of gigs upstairs that go large.
Specials: Jugs. See here.
First Date Rating: If she/he/it loves music and meat, then take them here.
Number 24 - The Maori Chief (South Melbourne)
South Melbourne is a suburb with many pubs, though sadly most have been yuppified up and homogenised over the decades…but not the Maori Chief. Its history (1867) and "vibe" has remained true, making this a type of northern pub in the south if we can be so bold to say. It's a comfortable local with good pub grub and a space where watching sport is encouraged.
Beer: Has some nice bottled beer to go with the usual tap offerings.
Beergarden: Yep, one upstairs. Nice views.
First Date Rating: 7.5/10 Homely and unpretentious.
Specials: Some nice food ones through the week. See here.
Number 23 - The Yarra Hotel (Abbotsford)
The Yarra Hotel burst on the scene in 2013 by reinventing what used to be a bit of a …how to put this nicely…dive. In doing so, the managers have created one of the best live music venues in town. It also rates highly on our beergarden list too, and coming here is now almost a weekly occurrence for their tasty burgers A great option for a lazy Sunday.
Number 22 - The Standard (Fitzroy)
We love the backstreet location. We love the exterior that resembles a bum bar from the 1930s. We love the beer garden that nobody would expect. But what we love the most is the comfy front bar (filled with Fitzroy FC memorabilia) where locals congregate and talk about footy and local music in equal parts. It's a special place that we need to go weekly to feel.....balanced.
Food: The Standard burger is awesome. Might go get one today actually.
Beers: Has some nice beers on tap. Bridge Rd and White Rabbit currently are on the go.
Beer garden: Often rated as the city's best.
Music: Despite the tiny stage and viewing area, the atmosphere is always good. Sundays at 7pm is the best time.
First Date Rating: The hipsters have discovered the Standard in droves. We recommend going there for lunch on a weekday for some intimate 1 on 1 time.
Number 21 - The Park Hotel (Abbotsford)
When people ask us where the best parmas in town are, we send them straight to Park Hotel. Not a bad title given this is a relatively hidden away pub in the cauldron bowl that is Abbotsford. It also doubles as a great place to watch the footy (screens are in the beer garden), and even a comfy nook for a romantic dinner for two as well. Add one of the best front bars to prop yourself on, and you've good one very welcoming watering hole.