The inner north is a controversial cluster of suburbs. At its heart is Collingwood, a creative hub that’s been touted as everything from the most exciting postcode in the three thousands, to the centre of Melbourne’s hipsterpocalypse. Regardless, there’s some pretty cool stuff happening in its backstreets.
From hidden design-savvy cafes to the best bourbon chicken sandwich we’ve ever tasted, here’s everything to eat, drink, shop, and do in Collingwood.
Eddy’s Café on Langridge Street is one of the most delicious hidden gems to be found in this buzzing suburb. The petite tiled café harks back to the days of traditional sandwich bars and serves up some incredible salads, wraps, pastries and a killer bourbon-glazed chicken sandwich. The best place to max out your meagre lunchtime budget.
South of Johnston
While there’s many a brunch spot on Smith Street’s main Collingwood strip, you’ll find some of the tastiest breakfast and lunch options at South of Johnston, tucked behind the main thoroughfare, on Oxford Street. With a beautiful interior, a fantastic (if petite) wine list, and a seafood linguine that’s worth crossing town for, this is one café that we can guarantee any self-respecting Lister will love.
Caffeine junkies, this one’s for you. With an on-site roastery, a fresh daily menu, and one of the most stunning spaces we’ve ever seen, Allpress is another must-try breakfast and lunch venue. The coffee is top notch (as you would expect), and the venue’s bright and airy premises is the perfect spot for a long brunch. Oh, and ask them to show you the events space too!
Another coffee institution, Proud Mary’s busy corner is great for a to-go working lunch and caffeine hit. Make sure you try one of the house blends, and drop by their second Collingwood outpost, Aunty Peg’s, if Mary’s is too busy.
Son In Law
Love nothing more than a feed of Thai dishes? Son In Law on Johnston Street is our go-to for a taste of Thailand that comes with a relaxed, good-time vibe. The menu is designed for sharing, and with $8 cocktails every day of the week it’s definitely one for catching up with a group of mates.
The Gem Bar & Dining Room
A Collingwood institution, The Gem is a fantastic pub with a kitchen that’s serving some of the juiciest Texan BBQ in town. While the happy hour makes this corner venue a cracking after-work venue, it’s the full barbeque platters of ribs, chicken, brisket, pork and hotlink sausages that will have you staying all night. Our pick for laid-back birthdays and group dining in Collingwood.
Burgers on a rooftop, Melbourne Bitter on tap. That’s basically all you need to know…
Looking for something a little more lavish? If you need to book a table that will impress, Saint Crispin makes for a beautifully understated dining experience. Founded by Scott Pickett of Estelle and Joe Grbac of The Press Club, St Crispin is luxurious but not stuffy, creative but not crammed to the rafters, with novelty dishes that leave you hungry.
Smith St Alimentari
Smith St Alimentari is home to breakfast, lunch and takeaway options that will leave your mouth watering! A busy weekend venue, the large space is home to a café as well as an Italian-inspired deli, making it the ideal one-stop-shop for an indulgent breakfast and some take-home nibbles for later.
Rupert On Rupert
Rupert on Rupert sums up everything that’s great about Collingwood right now; a beautiful modern venue, a cracking food and drinks menu (including tasting plates, sourdough pizzas, local beers and new world cocktails), and service that’s always delivered with a smile. Head here for good food, drink, people and vibes.
Alright, so retro gaming might be one of the most hipster things out there (what even is a hipster these days…) but do you know how fun it is?! The guys at Forgotten Worlds do, which is why they’ve filled a bar with old-school arcade games, imported and local beers, and a handful of bar snacks. A fantastic venue for spending the last of your weekend pocket money.
Cocktail bars come and cocktail bars go, especially in Collingwood. But one name that’s earned its place on the scene is Caz Reitop's Dirty Secrets, a speakeasy type bar that knows how to mix, muddle and pour many a stiff drink. If you’re looking for a nightcap, make it here.
Le Bon Ton
Another cocktail institution, Le Bon Ton is for those who like their drinks served neat at 4am in the morning. With some fantastic meat-focussed food, as well as an outdoor area to boot, the bar stock is, quite frankly, intimidating - this is one helluva bar, folks. An absolute must-visit.
Forester’s Beer Hall
With over 30 rotating beer taps, a late-night license and a kitchen that serves pizza until 2am, it’s pretty easy to guess what Forester’s Beer Hall is all about. Whether you’re looking for a quick, refreshing pint, or planning to work your way through the entire roster, this traditional beer hall is always packed with a chilled crowd who love a chat over a pint.
Live music bars don’t get much better than The Gasometer, known to locals as simply the Gaso. If you’re in the mood for some raw local talent, a few drinks, and a pub twist on traditional Japanese izakaya fare, this venue is well worth a few hours of your time.
Design geeks and book hoarders, Happy Valley needs to be on your Collingwood itinerary! This store is packed full of books, stationery, homewares and more.
The bigger, brighter sibling of Collingwood Japanese café Cibi, Mina-no-ie is a café-shop that’s packed full of Japanese goodies. Drop in for a coffee and treat yo'self to the perfectly formed imported goodies.
Melbourne’s better when you’re on two wheels, and if you’re looking to splash out on a steel-frame bicycle, Tokyobike is our go-to for something stylish and practical. They also keep heaps of high quality accessories too, so you know where to go for that Instaworthy bike basket.
If you’re on the hunt for two wheels that won’t cost the earth, Reid Cycles’ Collingwood store keeps a fantastic selection of bicycles in a variety of styles - and at a range of price points. From retro cruisers to the latest racing bikes, the store also keeps ready-to-ride bicycles with accessories kits, giving you everything you need to ride away on the spot.
Kif & Katast
Local homewares, textiles jewellery, and more can be found at Kif & Katast, another backstreet gem in Collingwood. If you’re stuck for a gift in a hurry, the team are fantastic at giving advice too, so you can be sure to find something that will make a mate’s day.
I Scream Nails
Badass nail art by one of the coolest salons in town. Need we say more?
The latest art to come out of Melbourne’s vibrant street art scene is often found on the walls of Backwoods Gallery, along with a handpicked selection of international artists. Drop in for some visual inspiration, and check out the website for gallery openings and parties.
Slow Clay Studios
Get those creative juices flowing at Slow Clay Studios, where you can learn virtually everything there is to know about handmade ceramics. Master the art of the pottery wheel, then go make some cash selling your wares at Rose Street Artists’ Market. Easy as.
Collingwood can get a liiiiittle bit weird, and if someone’s told you a tale about a mermaid drag act, or some fringe theatre that they stumbled upon, there’s a high chance that they’ve ended up in the Spiegeltent. Check out the performance schedule and book yourself in for something leftfield.
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Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White for the Urban List