We absolutely adore exploring little pockets of Melbourne, all in the name of research. We recently headed west to Kensington—an adorable suburb packed with great cafes and often flies under the radar. Tucked between North Melbourne and Flemington, it’s well worth a visit for tasty bites, drinks with vibes and a good dose of shopping.
Here are some starting points for things for you to eat, drink and shop in Kensington.
A café with a difference, Fifty-Six Threads has found its home on the ground level of the Kensington Housing commission. Launched by AMES and Urban communities, the café was set up with the aim of providing hospitality experience and employment opportunities for new migrants . Serving Social Roasting Company coffee, you’ll also be able to grab an all-day breakfast, including old school dim sims!
You’ll find Luncheonette perched on a corner, close to the Kensington Station. The quintessential (and perfect) local café, Luncheonette dishes up all your regular favourites. The venue is light and bright with white wash walls and window seats. We recommend grabbing the baked eggs.
The Abyssinian has been calmly dishing up top-notch African fare to Melbournians for some time now. Patrons travel from across the city to enjoy this Kensington gem.
You’ll find authentic dishes from the horn of Africa—think slow-cooked meats, plenty of spices and a healthy serving of injera bread. The interior has the relaxed feel of an African hut, and you’re encouraged to do as the Africans do, and enjoy the food with your hands. In our eyes, you’d be crazy to go past the goat.
Frying Colours was a welcome arrival to Kensington, dishing up Korean fare… and a few not-so-Korean dishes too. Sitting on Macauley Road, Frying Colours is big on flavour. The fried chicken is hard to go past, and we recommend you accompany it with the spicy sauce. You’ll also find some top-notch bibimbap and home made kimchi, which is utterly to die for. With a healthy selection of alcohol available too, Frying Colours is a good spot for a catch up with friends, over that side of town.
You know that any place that’s aiming to dish up the best tortillas in town is worth a look-in. What La Tortilleria lacks in size, it makes up for in quality and flavour. All about the tortilla, you can watch as the Mexican staple is being made. The menu is concise and delicious and there are a few cozy rooms out the back where you can grab a table and enjoy truly authentic Mexican—something that can be hard to come by in Melbourne.
You can also buy packets of the freshly made tortillas to take home and DIY Mexican night.
White Rabbit Record Bar
Finding its home on Bellaire street, right near the Kensignton station, White Rabbit Record Bar knows how to do good vibes. All music is played on vinyl and you can expect an eclectic mix of tunes. Buy the excellent white sangria by the jug—the perfect beverage to enjoy in the leafy beer garden out the back .
Henry St Brewhouse
If teeny tiny, artisan microbreweries is your kinda thing, then we’ve found the spot for you. Henry St Brewhouse started from humble beginnings in—you guessed it—Henry street. Housed in a bit of a warehouse, you’ll find a higgledy-piggledy collection of chars, a semi-permanent bar and some excellent beers, both in bottles and on tap. Open for lunch and dinner, it’s part eatery, part bar and come weekends, you’ll find DJ’s spinning vinyls. You can pick up a record for as little as $1 on your way out, too.
A good, honest local pub, you’ll find Hardimans on Macaulay Road. Its very much a local’s pub, but if you’re after a quick pint or a counter meal, you can’t go wrong.
A wonderland of furniture, lighting, and homewares, Assembly Hall is a must-visit for anyone with even a passing interest in design. The furniture is all top-notch quality and the staff are all friendly and willing to give you a spot of interiors’ advice. Housed in an old wool factory on Elizabeth Street, the store is displayed as a show room.
Blackhearts and Sparrows
If it’s booze that you’re after, Blackhearts and Sparrows should be your go-to. With a few stores dotted all over Melbourne, the Kensington shop is on Macaulay Road. A bit clueless about your wine? Ask the staff, they’re super helpful.
If you’re after quirky, eclectic or individual books, Wayward Books should be your first port of call. It’s slightly bigger than a cupboard, but by no means spacious. You’re encouraged to take your time and browse, have a flick and ask plenty of questions. Wayward Books is one for the dreamers and readers.
Start in Kensington and take a cycle along the river. The scenery is beautiful and you’ll stumble across a series of parks that you probably didn’t know about. Start with a coffee, do a loop and arrive back in Kensington for a beer.