In life it’s best to play to one’s strength. For example, my fortes do not include basic mathematics, high levels of maturity, or anything involving the words ‘long distance’.
I’m a firm believer that if something ain’t broke, there’s no need to fix it. And if there’s only one glorious thing in life that doesn’t need to be changed in the slightest, it’s those glorious Melbourne bars that let you bring your own food, letting the star of the show—drinks, drinks, did I mention drinks?—shine. Here are Melbourne’s best BYO food bars.
#1: Lulie St Tavern
This refreshingly bare-boned bar in Abbotsford provides drinks, a buzzing atmosphere and (most importantly) free peanuts. From beers on tap to red wine, the drinks menu at this Melbourne bar is endearingly miniature and varied enough to cater for everyone’s tastes. Fittingly casual, Lulie St Tavern is also BYO food, and pizza from Rita’s Cafeteria across the road can be ordered at the counter. Pizza and free peanuts, what more could you want on a night out?!
Takeaway pick: Order Rita’s pizza at Lulie St Tavern
#2: Oak & Steele Wine Bar
At night, Windsor café favourite Soldier On turns into a cosy, intimate wine bar that’s also charmingly BYO food. Focusing on different wines and wine regions every three months, Oak & Steele is the home to some of Melbourne’s best home-grown bottles, boasting a curated range of the best local wines, cider and beer. Cheeseboards are available, but patrons are more than welcome to BYO food, and we highly suggest you do, because even though there’s a plethora of Windsor favourites nearby, with Hanoi Hannah at the end of the block we figure it’s an easy choice.
Takeaway pick: Hanoi Hannah
#3: Chapel St Cellars
Featuring some of the best international craft beers, Chapel St Cellars lets you drink your purchases inside the store. The tables and chairs are far from fancy, but for impatient beer drinkers in Melbourne, it’s a pretty good spot to set up shop (red and white wines are also available, if you’re bringing any beer-phobics). Snack items like fresh oysters and corn chips with salsa are on hand to line the stomach, but with a welcoming BYO food policy, we recommend you hop across the road to Hooked for some perfectly paired fish and chips.
Takeaway pick: Hooked
#4: Valley Cellar Door
Moonee Ponds & Sunbury
With locations at Moonee Ponds and Sunbury, the Valley Cellar Door is a much loved local wine bar. Brothers Mark and Tony Pendreich opened the business with the aim of featuring wines from Sunbury and Macedon Ranges winemakers. Both locations are happily BYO food-friendly, but the Valley Cellar Door in Moonee Ponds is a short walk away from the infamous Ascot Food Store. From creative brunches to indulgent doughnuts, pack it all to go to Valley Cellar Door.
Takeaway pick: Ascot Food Store
#5: Toorak Cellars
Featuring a wine list with a mix of Australian, New Zealand and European wines, the team at Toorak Cellars are constantly rotating their list of 20 wines available by glass. If you do have a particular favourite (or if you’ve had a particularly abysmal day), you’re welcome to open any bottle off the shelf. Designed with restraint, Toorak Cellars features long timber communal tables and seats at the bar, and there’s a small bar menu with cheeseboards and cuts of cold meats ideal for sharing. But, if you’re drinking European wine, you might as well order something from Chez Bob’s upmarket French menu. They’ll even deliver it to your table.
Takeaway pick: Coin Laundry
#6: Gibson’s Wine Bar
A homely, mismatched kind of tavern, Gibson’s Wine Bar is Hawthorn’s secret Melbourne gem. If it’s frills you’re looking for, look away, because this little bar focuses on just one thing: wine. There are just a few bar stools and old-fashioned chairs to perch on, but you can browse their wine collection until your plonk-loving heart is content. Best yet, this Melbourne bar is BYO food, so if the bar menu doesn’t grab you, you can always grab some proper tucker choose any one of Burwood Road’s fantastic diners.
Takeaway pick: Murharam Cafe
#7: Gordon’s The Cellar Door
With a gorgeous pale timber interior, this bottle shop wine-bar hybrid is one of Elsternwick’s best wine shops. Stocking over 400 wine varieties and 200 beers and ciders, Gordon’s The Cellar Door is not the place for indecisive drinkers. Visitors are welcome to taste from open bottles during the week, and there are damn fine charcuterie boards available to nosh on while you sip. But if you’re planning on staying till dinnertime don’t forget that Lot 3 is just a short drive away and Gordon’s will generously allow you to bring you meal back with you. Don’t worry, the team at won’t judge your mac n’ cheese/hot dog/bagel feast.
Takeaway pick: Lot 3
Image credit: Hither & Thither via Pinterest