Cafes

Melbourne’s Best Venues For People-Watching

By Clare Acheson - 07 Apr 2016

best venues for people watching

Call me a creep (you wouldn’t be the first… *leering grin*) but lately, I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly turns a good Melbourne venue into a great one. And, for me, it’s simply got to be its potential for people watching.

Whether it’s at the end of a long day over a glass of Riesling, or starting the weekend with a Riesling coffee in hand, kicking back and observing Melbourne’s urban wildlife is an awesome way to unwind.

So, without further ado, here are my favourite venues for watching the world roll by. Remember, it’s only unsettling if your stare lingers that second or two too long…

Drugstore Espresso

South Yarra

An oldie but a goodie, Drugstore Espresso’s upper floor vantage point makes it perfect for perusing the passers-by on the street below. With a 24-hour cold brew and one of the best bacon-topped burgers in town, you’ve no excuse not to drop in here for on a people-watching lunch break.

DryStore Espresso

Melbourne CBD

Not to be confused with Drugstore Espresso, DryStore Espresso is a CBD gem. With open windows that lead right onto the feral pavements of Lonsdale Street, you’re guaranteed to see something worth talking about when kicking back in here (and then submit it to our Overheard column). One skinny magic with a side of a bus-stop break-ups to go, pelase.

Pelican

St Kilda

Those window booths were MADE for creepin’ on strangers. Pelican is a great spot for both street-level surveying (and on Fitzroy Street, you can guarantee there’s a heap of people worth watching) and observing the odd awkward Tinder date take place at the bar. Open seven days a week, this one’s a failsafe.

Mr Mister

Windsor

Streetside seating, right at the Chapel Street/High Street Crossroads? It can only be Mr Mister, where you’ll also find epic sandwiches, super-salads and very affordable glass of Redbank sparkling. A highly regarded spot for watching lost souls fall out of Revolver on any given Monday.

Sake

Southbank

The southbank itself is one massive hive of people-watching hot-spots, but when it comes to our pick of the bunch, it has to be Japanese bar-restaurant, Sake. For 1. Sushi (or anything Japanese, really) is the perfect food for eating daintily while spending as much time surveying the sights as possible, and 2. Sake is right next to the St Kilda Road staircase that leads down to the southbank, so you’ll be first to spot that wave of theatre-goers, tourists and general riff-raff as they step onto the riverbank.

Fitzrovia

St Kilda

If you can tear your gaze away from the super-cute dogs and elbow you way past super-enthusiastic lycra-clad cyclists who seem to make up 99% of the clientele at Fitzrovia, you’ll find that it’s roadside seating makes for a cracking people-watching spot. Grab a pastry or four and nibble your way through a casual hour or two spying on the locals—you might even spot the infamous Fitzroy Street parrot man, or the dude who travels on horseback to Topolino’s for his daily dose of pizza!

The Evelyn Hotel

Fitzroy

When I feel like indulging in a beer and a little hipster-spotting on a sunny afternoon (The inability to smile! The sunglasses!), there’s nowhere I’d rather do so than at The Evelyn. And when you’re done with the snooping, head upstairs for some awesome live music. Sorted.

She’s Bar

Fitzroy

…It’s on the corner right opposite The Evelyn. See above.

Hawker Hall

Windsor

Whoever designed the seats at the front of Hawker Hall was most definitely thinking about kicking it with one of their many, many delicious beers and surveying the sights of Chapel Street. C’mon, the seats in the custom built benches actually face the street, and not the person you’re dining with! Call your fellow people-watching mates and hoof it down to this one for some Asian hawker share plates and chat about nothing much.

Kent Street

Fitzroy

This Smith Street dive bar has two things: 1. A hell of a lot of soul, and 2. Very competitively priced beverages, both of which make it a goldmine for killing time, and watching the world go by. As well as having a handful of streetside tables, Kent Street is also open from 10am Monday through to Saturday, which makes the people-watching inside the bar just as interesting as what’s on the outside, if you’re catching what I’m throwing.

Hell’s Kitchen

Melbourne CBD

Another CBD find for those who love the bird’s eye view, Hell’s Kitchen sits above Central Place, making it a cracking choice for watching the throngs of tourists, shop traders and students who flock below… If you can get a window seat, that is.

Anywhere on Lygon Street

Carlton

Lygon Street’s main stretch is littered with Italian restaurants, bars and cafes, the vast majority of which are great for people-watching, or Ferrari-watching, if that’s your thing. My top picks include Ti Amo, University Café and, if you like your people watching at 1am with an Espresso Martini in hand, Carlton Yacht Club. Hey, don’t knck it ‘til you’ve tried it.

Anywhere on Degraves Street

Melbourne CBD

Not only will you be watching people, you’ll also be watching ignorant backpack wearers, careless selfie sticks owners, irate waiters, lost tourists and hurried locals, running towards the Flinders Street underpass. A treasure-trove of humanity, that’s for sure.

Looking for great places to watch the world go by solo? Here are our fave solo-dining spots in Melbourne.

Image credit: Sex and The City

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