Melbourne Top 50 Venues in Melbourne (5-1)
Number 5: Reverence Hotel (Footscray)
The reverence closed in March 2019, but it still makes our list, why? Because the impact it had out west. When the former owners of the Arthouse, transported the raw sounds of angst ridden music and plonked it in the heart of Footscray eight years ago, many revellers had probably never been out for a night in Footscray. When they did, some decided to stay, and since then heaps of new bars (many focusing on craft beer) and restaurants (Footscray has always had incredible restaurants mind you) have sprouted up. We think the Reverence played a big part in this. The owners didn't want to close but with a lease that was only month to month, it made any investment very problematic. The lesson, don't take pubs for granted....ever! We'll miss the bands, the taco Tuesdays, the cheap Mexican beer, but we wait to see what the owners do next and will keep you informed.
Number 4: The Fox Hotel (Collingwood)
Are there better publicans than Bridie, Tracy & Clodagh? The Fox was our second lounge room, our second kitchen, our second …toilet, when the THH offices were across the road. 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 vego friendly and far better than the average pub (go the Roast special on Sundays - in our top three), and a beer garden that's in our top 5 rooftops in Melbourne and you can't go wrong. I always seem to play pool really well here also, and I'm crap at pool.
Number 3: Drunken Poet (West Melbourne)
Don't be fooled by the ranking, the number one venue of 2017/2018 is still a great place to go, but we rewarded the two ahead of it for their menu in comparison. Over ten years ago, owner Siobhan Dooley bought this space because it was "the only thing place I could afford". Since then she has tirelessly devoted her days to making one of the best bars in the country. 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 nearly every night!), especially female performers, and it has one of the best publicans in the business (see our Q&A). 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. Head there today for happy hour!
Number 2: The Napier Hotel (Fitzroy)
One of our key criteria in judging pubs is showcasing live music and having great specials, but the Napier don't do these and still got number 2. How? By now you might realise that we are Fitzroy Football Club Supporters (no we are not hipsters, 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 (this article was written by THH founder Chris for the Age Magazine). You could share it between two people, so in a way it's a special. We enjoy the parma with chorizo kangaroo on top as well and in fact this in our top five parmas in town. 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. You'll see families, students, hipsters, locals alike in this public house, and the two "Guys" (that's their name, not their gender) behind the bar will also make you feel welcome.
Number 1: Edinburgh Castle (Brunswick)
It was ranked 45 in 2016, 12 in 2017, and number four in 2018, and has risen to the top in 2019. Why? 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, and perhaps the reason they moved there in the first place. I mean how can you not love a pub that has its own Ukelele Collective? The clientele is a mishmash of student/artist vibe with young families that have just bought Brunswick West apartments, dropping in too. We like their unwavering support of food/drink specials (20 hours of $15 jugs a week thank you very much) as well as showcasing local bands in a front room that suits it well. Their Wednesday night trivia is usually packed and in our top 5 in the city and being able to play table tennis in the beer garden on a warm midweek arvo is one of life's little pleasures. Introducing our number one venue of 2019, Brunswick's the Edinburgh Castle. Tipple tonight?