Home to the Bombers and gatekeeper to Melbourne’s inner north, Essendon is one of the few Melbourne suburbs with an eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture. Quietly trendy, here are the best things to do, eat, drink and places to shop in Essendon. Take notes for your next weekend saunter!
Unequivocally one of Melbourne’s best pizzerias, if you’re keen for the world’s top pizza without the Brunswick lines, make a beeline for 400 Gradi’s Essendon joint. We still can’t get past their devilishly rich margarita pizza.
Ten One Ate
Open, airy and unquestionably family-friendly, Ten One Ate is a warm local café ideal for lazy Sunday brunches. Glass cabinets are stacked high with fresh pastries, baked goodies and rich sandwiches. Weekly specials also rotate frequently—just to make sure your indecisive head implodes.
Nestled off Keilor Road, Hey Jude’s subtly clever menu has locals crawling back every weekend. From the sweet ‘n sour fig, date and apricot fruit loaf with whipped ricotta and Seville orange marmalade, to mushies and thyme on toast with sorrel, green sauce and haloumi, Hey Jude’s dishes are refined and freaking delicious.
Serving up freakshakes in Melbourne’s north, Johnny Pump's artery-clogging shakes can tempt any would-be-dieter into a cheat day (or week). We recommend their Nutella and chocolate brownie dessert shake. With a slightly warmed, homemade brownie on top of a rich chocolate milkshake, lathered in a spoon of Nutella, cream and (yes please) more chocolate, good luck.
Wilfred Smith Food & Drink
Greenery abounds inside one of Essendon’s favourite cafes. Neon yellow chairs brighten the otherwise narrow space, but it’s the fresh, unpretentious brunches that attract locals and foodies to a good breakfast spot. Try Wilfred Smith's Gingerbread Hotcakes with lemon curd, black pepper meringue and crème fraiche. 'Cause, yum.
North & Eight
Possibly Essendon’s best looking café, North & Eight’s open space boasts polished wooden panelling, neutral wall art and refined copper finishes. Their Korean-influenced soft shell crab burger with fennel, dill and lime peanut mayo is a hard bargain at just over a tenner.
A plain-looking shopfront hides one of Essendon’s favourite local gems. A1 is home to fresh, flavoursome Lebanese pastries and salad—a light takeaway food that we’re happy give an A+.
The Valley Cellar Door
A wine bar slash bottle shop slash outdoor beer garden slash everything you need in life, The Valley Cellar Door is an Essendon institution. Whether you’re keen to curl up with a bottle of red or taste-test their grazing menu, there’s a little sumthin' sumthin’ for every wine-lover in Melbourne.
New World Whiskey Distillery
For drinking with class(es), Essendon’s New World Whiskey Distillery is keen to educate. With the entire Starward whisky range available for drinking, this is the whisky lovers' dream distillery.
Harper & Blohm
This compact shop in Essendon sells cheese you might not get your hands on anywhere else. If that doesn’t induce an appropriate amount of excitement in your belly we’re afraid you're not the right person for the mould-filled, fermented milk goodies at Harper & Blohm.
The Essendon Cyclery
A bike rider’s emporium, The Essendon Cyclery stocks some of the best bikes and equipment in Melbourne. If you’re thinking about a new set of shiny wheels, swing by The Essendon Cyclery. We guarantee they’ll be happy to help.
Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie
Sink your sweet tooth into these buttery French pastries. From éclairs to croissants, doughnuts and vanilla slices, prepare to waddle out of the Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie with (much more) than your fair share of cake.
Prince Wine Store
Looking to impress your date with a fancy bottle of red? Head to the Prince Wine Store. Whether you’re on a budget (and don’t want your date to know it) or ready to splurge on some top-notch booze, the Prince Wine Store has it.
Think you’re sitting pretty in the yoga world of things? Mix it up at Studio 3. From anti-gravity aerial yoga to suspension fitness, Studio 3 will make your muscles ache like they’ve never ached before. Remember, you wanted this.
Combining Pilates, dance and ballet, the Essendon Xtend Barre studio isn’t your average workout. There are a range of classes to choose from, including a mummy-friendly Barre Babies On Board session!
Pack a dog, a picnic and your hubby. Woodland Parks is a huge open space of greenery featuring picnic facilities, playgrounds and lakes. Don’t waste the last of Melbourne’s summery weather.
Need more northside inspo? Hop a suburb over and head to one of the 10 Must-Try Cafes In Moonee Valley!
Image credit: Jenna Fahey-White