Bars & Pubs

Melbourne’s Secret Everything #1 | Hidden Restaurants, Cafes & Bars

By Clare Acheson
20th Oct 2015

Melbourne is a city that’s chockfull of secrets. From 6am boozers to pocket-size espresso bars, our city is home to some weird and wonderful finds that are just waiting for you to stumble across them. While most of us are already well-acquainted with Jungle Boy, the bar behind the fridge in Boston Sub, we’re still dying to discover more secret things in Melbourne, whether they’re cafes, bars or a bit of both.

Here are our picks of the hidden Melbourne hot-spots you should know about, from mysterious basement bars to secret restaurants and everything in between.

The Cafes

Café Bu, North Carlton

Café Bu is a tiny rooftop café that keeps things simple. While the tiny ground-floor space serves delicious 5 Seeds coffee and breakfast bites, you’ll find most of the action on the rooftop, which is hidden from roadside view.

Krimper, Melbourne CBD

Part derelict workspace (it used to be a sawmill and furniture factory), part café, Krimper on Guildford Lane is a cavernous café space that you’d never guess existed from the roadside. The perfect CBD coffee haunt for any urban explorer.

Second Home, Eltham

The first time we visited Second Home, we were like ‘WTF we’re obviously lost because all I can see is a Repco and an Autobarn,’ but we just weren’t looking hard enough. In fact, tucked away on a side street in Eltham is one of the most beautiful cafes you’ll ever see, with a menu and wine list to match.

Cup of Truth, Melbourne CBD

You wouldn’t expect to find some of Melbourne’s best coffee in the Flinders St underpass, but petite caffeine purveyor Cup of Truth serves precisely that. Your perfect morning commute pick-me-up.

Roller Door Café, West Melbourne

Roller Door Café is—surprise!—hidden behind a roller door in West Melbourne. Genuine people, tasty food and a cosy atmosphere make it one of our top secret spots.

A Minor Place, Brunswick

Tucked in the middle of residential Brunswick, you’d be forgiven for thinking that A Minor Place was simply your average north-side house. Great bagels, great coffee and great customers give it away.

Switchboard, Melbourne CBD

Switchboard is basically a café in a cupboard. The tiiiiny CBD vendor has just enough room for an espresso machine and a carton or two of Bonsoy, we seriously wonder how they fit a barista in there…

Vertue of the Coffee Drink, Carlton

Hankering for some expertly brewed coffee in Carlton? Look for the Shell filling station, take the tiny laneway beside it and turn one final corner to find coffee emporium Vertue of the Coffee Drink.

The Restaurants

Neighbourhood Wine, Fitzroy North

Climb a staircase through a small door on a side street in North Fitzroy and you’ll be amazed by the incredible interior that awaits. Neighbourhood Wine is an awesome hidden spot for nibbles and a glass of something delicious at the end of a long day.

Easey St. Smoke Out, Collingwood

A BBQ restaurant, in a motorcycle workshop, underneath a street art gallery, down a laneway. It doesn’t get any more Melbourne than Easey St. Smoke Out.

Chuckle Park, Melbourne CBD

CBD bar and eatery Chuckle Park feels like a house party that’s spilled out into a garden and somehow made its way to the inner city. A definite must for a sneaky post-work beer. 

The Cheese Cellar, Spring Street Grocers, Melbourne CBD

While Spring Street Grocer is incredibly well known, its cheese cellar, which you can dine in (!!) is one of Melbourne’s best-kept secrets. If you’re looking for a private dining venue that’s got some serious secretive ‘wow’ factor, this should be it.

Yu-U, Melbourne CBD

Hidden behind a grim, graffiti-covered door, Yu-U Japanese restaurant is home to some of Melbourne’s most flavorsome sushi. You’d better be quick though, as it’s being replaced by a French restaurant later this year.

Wolf’s Lair, Carlton

Jimmy Watson’s on Lygon Street has a dark secret in the form of the Wolf’s Lair, it’s back yard dining area and rooftop bar. The entrance is located next to a car park entrance on Elgin Street and, with pizza and craft beer on tap, it’s a secret worth visiting on a sunny evening.

The Melbourne Supper Club, Melbourne CBD

Late-night lingering doesn’t get better than at The Melbourne Supper Club. Hidden above street-level on Spring Street, the sophisticated institution is open until 4am Sunday – Wednesday, and until 6am Thursday – Saturday. One secret to keep up your sleeve and whip out on that date night you never want to end.

The Bars

LongPlay, North Fitzroy

If you’ve tried to go to LongPlay and thought, ‘Ah, it’s closed,’ you’ve probably been fooled by its unassuming exterior. No, you can’t see inside, but yes, most of the time there are people in there. A classic secret bar for a northside nightcap. 

The Moat, Melbourne CBD

Tucked beneath the State Library on Little Lonsdale Street, The Moat is an awesome basement bar and eatery that dates back a century or so. Oh, and they do a mean cheeseboard.

Bar Exuberante, Richmond

A bar hidden within a bar?! Matt Bax’s Bar Exuberante is the bar-ception of Melbourne secrets. Not only is it hidden through a staff door at the back of Bar Economico, it’s also decked out like a European hotel, a charade that the staff keep up for the duration of your stay. Our #1 secret bar in Melbourne.

Ba Charlie, Prahran

Love dumplings and drinks? Charlie Dumpling Jr’s take-away window is a front for its awesome cocktail bar, which can be reached if you know exactly where to find a special button on its back wall. We’ll say no more.

Glamp, Melbourne CBD

If Bar Exuberantie’s hotel escapism floated your boat, you’ll LOVE Glamp. The above street-level bar is decked out like an African safari camp, complete with Bedouin tents, cushions and (faux) big game furs. One of Melbourne’s most theatrical secret bars that can serve a mean cocktail too.

Sister Bella, Melbourne CBD

While Sister Bella might be on the more popular side of Melbourne’s best hidden bars, it’s an oldie but a goodie. Go for the grunge-chic factor, stay for the incredibly reasonably priced drinks and pizza.

Carlisle Wine Bar, Balaclava

Ticked in a tiny premises on Carlisle Street, Carlisle WIne Bar is one of our top overlooked spots for a glass of wine and some tasty nibbles, If oysters are your thing, you're in luck, as you'll find some of the best seafood in Melbourne freshly shucked at this tiny watering hole. 

Moon Dog Craft Brewery, Abbotsford

Moon Dog is another one that had us thinking we were totally lost. The Abbotsford brewery is tucked away off Duke Street and comes alive on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights when they throw open the warehouse’s rickety doors for beers and street food.

Thomas Olive, Above Saint Crispin, Collingwood

There's a secret in Saint Crispin's attic and it goes by the name of Thomas Olive. Expect outstanding cocktails, delicious bar nibbles and the best company on the Smith Street strip.

Lustre Bar & Hell’s Kitchen, Melbourne CBD

A double whammy of laneway nightlife, both Hells Kitchen and Lustre Bar are hidden above one of Melbourne’s busiest laneways, Centre Place. If you’re the cocktail type, make it Lustre, and if you’re more of a beer fan, settle for Hell’s Kitchen.

Loch & Key, Melbourne CBD

Where else can you have a drink in a confessional booth? Loch & Key, the hidden upstairs component to Captain Melville, is one hell of a trip. The stunning old-world interior fit-out and classic cocktail menu makes it one of our favourite hidden bars in Melbourne CBD. Just don’t try getting down the stairs in a hurry after a few tipples…

Look out for Melbourne’s Secret Everything #2, which features secret events, coming later this year…

Image credit: Chuckle Park

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