The Grace Darling Hotel
Melbourne is full of old renovated hotels that have turned into bars. The Grace Darling Hotel keeps that old hospitality feeling with open fireplaces and quirky wallpaper. It is a great place to go to meet friends and have a meal. They have plenty of decent beers on tap and make a mean cinnamon sour using Fireball whiskey. On weekends, it’s open late, and they often have live bands or DJs playing.
Le Bon Ton
If you’ve been kicked out of the bar at 3am and have no idea where to go, then Le Bon Ton should be your first choice. This American-themed bar is open until 6am on Friday and Saturday nights and is a nice alternative to Maccas, as their kitchen is open until 5am to grab some greasy goodness. Not only is their food good but so is their bar staff. They have cocktails to suit all tastes. If you’re a fan of rum, then you’ll love the rum cocktail with a hint of chocolate, plus they make their own spicy tomato juice for the Bloody Mary. Le Bon Ton also has an absinthe bar and an oyster room.
Le Bon Ton, 51 Gipps Street, Collingwood, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9416 4341
South of Johnston
If you’re a fan of the Australian television series Offspring, then you’ll recognize South of Johnston. It’s a little bit secluded from the street, so there’s a sense of privacy that makes it great for filming. The giant terrarium that sits on the front counter and the earthy feel of the place with low-hanging vines are two standout features of this cafe. They do great poached eggs, and if you haven’t tried the inner north Melbourne coffee — ‘the magic’ for those in the know — then you should try it here. If you’re wondering what it is, it’s a double ristretto three-quarters full flat white.
There’s nothing hipster or pretentious about Ladybird Cafe. The big breakfast has everything you want to start the day off properly: scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, mushies, tommies and some avocado on the side. It’s the quintessential Aussie brekkie, and like everywhere in Melbourne, you can expect a decent coffee. They have a back room as well, which is more secluded and great for doing some studying or writing. Can’t complain about the service and the food comes out fast.
Ladybird Cafe, 72 Johnston Street, Collingwood, VIC, Australia, +61 4 1298 4358
Proud Mary encapsulates everything cool that Collingwood has become. Even on a weekday, you’ll be lining up at the door waiting for a table. The sun streaming through the windows onto the large wooden communal tables creates a warming environment inside. It is a great spot for catching up with friends over a quick cup of coffee, having Sunday brunch or just grabbing a coffee to go. If you have large fingers though, you may struggle to hold the cups with their minute handles. Make sure you check out the door handles on the way out — they’re in the shape of a coffee grip.
Proud Mary, 172 Oxford Street, Collingwood, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9417 5930
Mr Scruff’s has the best Bloody Mary in Melbourne. Indeed, they have three different types of Bloody Marys, but the ultimate one is the ‘Mr Mister Bloody Mary.’ It’s a labor-intensive drink to make for the poor bartender as the garnish alone is elaborate and time-consuming to make. It’s not your standard Bloody Mary with a garnish of celery; there’s pickle juice, Tobasco, a slice of bacon, some olives popped on a stick and some horseradish mustard plopped in. It’s a meal in itself.
Mr Scruff’s, 60 Smith Street, Collingwood, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9995 3881
You’ll find many places in Melbourne to be too pretentious and hipster; however, this Japanese cafe and shop has a genuinely nice staff and hasn’t tried too hard with the decor. There’s not much to dislike about this place if you love Japanese food. The traditional weekend breakfast comes with rice, shiozake (grilled salmon), some veggies and potato mash, with miso soup on the side. The definite highlight of Cibi is youngster Uta, whose parents run the joint. Uta is the friendliest kid in Collingwood who loves chatting to customers and smugly tells them about how he gets to eat there for free.
Cibi, 45 Keele Street, Collingwood, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9077 3941
If you were standing outside Easey’s and looked up, you would think it was just an abandoned building with some old train carriages slightly overhanging on the rooftop. Those train carriages are there for a reason, and they are still in use. You can either eat on the ground floor of Easey’s, or like 90 percent of people, you can eat in a train carriage — there is a lift or several flights of stairs that will take you up to the rooftop. The carriages themselves are often chockablock with people, but there is also an outdoor seating area where you can plonk yourself in between the carriages and take in a fairly nice view of the city. The burgers are great, and the chili cheese fries are an excellent alternative to normal fries. There’s a good range of beers to choose from as well.
Easey’s, 3/48 Easey Street, Collingwood, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9079 5942
Shop Ramen, hands down, has the best ramen in Collingwood. They cater to vegetarians with their tofu ramen and tofu buns. The menu is short, but they do everything well. There are four steamed bao on offer, four types of ramen plus four rice dishes. The brisket and kimchi bun and the pork belly ramen are two must-try options. As for drinks, the sparkling matcha — matcha and sparkling apple juice — is a refreshing option. Matcha has many antioxidants and will leave you feeling energized.
Shop Ramen, 329 Smith Street, Collingwood, VIC, Australia, +61 3 9123 4567