Melbourne Top 50 Venues in Melbourne (20-11)
Number 20: The Brandon Hotel (Carlton North)
It's been one of our favourite Sunday Sessions pubs around for years. 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 $8 pints of all taps and a changing weekly roast that people flock to. They also have a Joker Poker raffle every Friday which often goes high ($$$).
Number 19: 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 created one of the best live music venues in town. It also rates highly on our beer garden list too, and coming here is now almost a weekly occurrence for their tasty burgers. Owners (SOS and Ross Lyon) have recently come in but the focus on food and music has remained the same. A great option.
Number 18: 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 17: The Birmy (Fitzroy)
Continues to rise up the ranking each year, the Birmingham Hotel just gets better and better. With quality specials and an excellent parma which has been named the best in Melbourne by Parma Daze for past couple of years, it's also highly popular with the afl and mma crowd. Head to the beer garden upstairs we say. Looks like it will be climbing the rankings in years to come.
Number 16: The Stag's Head (Williamstown)
The highest placed Willliamstown pub (we've already talked about how much we love the backstreets), 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 Sunday Roast special! Live tunes a few nights a week, add to its slow time charm. Visit it!
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.
Number 14: 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.
Number 13: Rainbow Hotel (Fitzroy)
Rotating a steady stream of hard to find labels and tasty/chewy brews the Rainbow is the treasure at the end of the ......rainbow. 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 12: 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 after work.
Number 11: 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.