One night, I had a dream that Matt Preston brought his decks to my cat's birthday party, and spun sweet sweet tracks until the early hours. We danced, we partied, we all laughed when his cravat got super sweaty, and everyone had a great time. He even brought a cheese platter and the cat ate all the pâté. Upon awakening, I was elated. What a good dream, I thought. Nay, my elation disappeared as fleetingly as it came. That was not real. There was no party. There was no DJ Preston. There was no pâté. Where the hell was I going to find the ultimate fusion of melodic tunes and appetising nosh?
Deflated, I trawled the streets of Melbourne. Scanning cafes, looking high, looking low, never finding, only falling. I even bumped into George Calombaris and asked him if he wanted to come to Polyester Records and make fusilli with me in my kitchen, (I told him I had an island bench and a Miele), but to no avail. What was next?
That night I went out for dinner. Upon arrival I noticed something – people were eating, but their feet were tapping. Heads were bopping, mouths were chewing, and god, that sound! Yes friends, it was almost as good as a Preston pussycat party. People were embracing their love of music with their love of food, and it was working – seamlessly. So forget Matt Preston (until Season 912 of Masterchef) and embrace synesthesia Melbz, cos here are your top dining venues with in-house DJs.
Soft shell pulled pork tacos, crunchy tostadas and buttered, grilled corn sound like your thang? Beneath the neon Ghostbusters sign and amongst the whitewashed brick is Touché Hombre, the Mexican warehouse on Lonsdale Street. Be greeted by friendly staff who'll plonk you down on a communal tables, ready to chow. If you've any sense, you'll hit up the bar for a tasty cocktail, or try and secure a private nook, but you won't be escaping the piece de resistance of Touché – crash hot local DJs on the decks every night. Open for lunch and dinner from Monday to Saturday, weekday lunch is packed with their corporate clientele, but early evenings provide a bit of sweet relief, so come listen and chow then. If it's straight up DJs and devilish cocktail that you're after, head next door to Touché Hombre's little brother bar, Burroteca - it's all bright colours, neon lights and Mexican craziness set to killer beats.
Vietnamese and Darwin Deez. Boom. This tiny nook on High Street is the streetwise sister to Saigon Sally, with the graffitied walls, kitsch bits and bobs and hipster staff to prove it. Bring a friend or two (not seven, you'll be sad) and sip away on fresh coconuts (with rum) and share steaming bowls of pho, soft shell crab salads and pork belly sliders. They're open for lunch and dinner most nights of the week, but the DJ only spins tracks on Friday and Saturday afternoons/nights, so make sure you're there for that. There's a bit of an in and out policy here, so don't expect long nights looking into each other's eyes; get a good feed, a good music hit and go to bed.
Image Credit: Cookie Facebook
Up the many many stairs but beneath the rave that is The Toff in Town is Cookie, a glamorous dining establishment that offers palate pleasing and ear caressing delights. An 88 page wine list accompanies 200 types of beers, so enjoy the novel alongside the much easier to read (but not easier to decide) menu, featuring mod-Asian delicacies like crispy fish papaya salad and jungle duck curry. It's pretty packed on the weekends but you can always count on the tunes, with a DJ placed in the corner all night every night for your entertainment. It's loud, but it's a tasty treat, and after tasting 200 beers you'll definitely want to go dancing at the Toff upstairs.
The Black Cat for me is Brunswick Street personified – comfy couches, laidback vibes, heaps of outdoor seating, reggae music pumping, good beers, good people...the list goes on. There's a tight menu – think pizzas and light tapas – and there's only a couple of things on tap, but the vibe here is that there's no pressure (and tourists seem to fear it a little so it remains a hidden gem). On Sundays, a DJ comes in and spins sweet sweet rasta tracks, making for an undeniably pleasant Sunday sesh atmosphere.
BADGER VS HAWK
By day they're pumping out espressos, but by night a DJ takes over – dishing delicious beats to the delighted patrons munching on burgers and slamming Peronis, which by the way are only $2 with a burger on weekday nights. The space is small with a roller door entry and umbrella shaded courtyard, so it's a great spot for a quiet bevvy and feed after work, accompanied by some wicked local DJs.
Cherry blossoms, wallpaper you want to lick, fairy lights, Chinese lanterns and a colour explosion are the trademarks of Rice Queen – the kooky kitsch wonderland on Brunswick Street. Asian fodder is on the menu here, with specialty dishes including caramelised pork bites, Korean DIY tacos, and a ridiculously good looking espresso martini. Of course, there's a DJ on the weekend who'll play you everything from Tribe to Fat Freddy's, all adding to its mad vibe. Whether you're sitting street side in the smokers' den, inside on their massive open floor, or in the private booth belting karaoke, Rice Queen deserves a standing ovation for its dedication to good tunes and great nosh.
Image Credit: Rice Queen Facebook
Main Image Credit: Fuckyeahgirlswithvinylrecords.tumblr