Whether it’s food, fashion, books or homewares that are on your lust list, North Carlton is the perfect mix of hidden gems and established names. Simply take a wander through Rathdowne Village on a bright, sunkissed morning and you’ll be stopping every ten paces to check out this buzzing café or that tiny bookshop. Heading there at night? There’s a hive of epic wine bars and great pubs that’ll serve you some of the best vino to be found.
So, ready to hit the northside’s cutest culture strip? Read on for the best North Carlton cafes, shops and bars.
Hidden cafes don’t come much more secretive than North Carlton caffeine champions, Cafe Bu! Tucked on a rooftop, this awesome cafe serves takeaway and dine-in coffee, breakfast dishes, sandwiches and snacks. The perfect name to drop if you’re chatting with in-the-know locals.
Whether you’re brunching, lunching or on the hunt for an early morning breakfast in North Carlton, Small Victories delivers on all fronts. Their coffee is rich and delicious, and you can either sit inside the cosy cafe or sit street-side and watch the world go by. We’d be hard pushed to pick a favourite dish on the menu, but the house-made pastas and buttermilk waffles are both hard to beat. It’s one of the best cafes in Melbourne for a weekend sesh, so get there early on Saturdays and Sundays to avoid the inevitable queue.
North Carlton Canteen
What’s that? You were up too late for a table at Small Victories? Get yourself and your appetite to North Carlton Canteen, which serves some of the best light bites and big-eat breakfasts without the hipsterification you’ll find in most northside cafes. Trust me, the cookie sandwiches are next-level cocoa and sugar treats, and the chicken burger is the breakfast of champions.
Situated on Park Street, next to the bicycle trail that runs through the north of the city, Green Park is a foodie’s dream. As well as serving a strong brunch offering, the kitchen turns out delicious dinner options, Sunday roasts, charcuterie, cheese and sharing plates. Anything that’s been cooked using their in-house woodgrill is a must, and the venue itself is great for dates, catch-ups with friends, or simply chilling out solo with a good book and an even better glass of wine.
A wine bar in the truest sense, Gerald’s Bar serves the crème de la crème of local and world wines alongside incredible, freshly made food (the duck parfait…pass me a spoon, people!) inside a venue you’ll want to drink in, every day, for the rest of your life, forever. There’s no wine by-the-glass list—the wonderful staff pour whatever’s open—and the, erm, ‘ambiance’ is complemented by whatever they have spinning on the turntable. A slice of North Carlton at its best.
Hint: It’s also a great Tinder date venue, if you like this sort of thing.
The Great Northern
One of Melbourne’s best pubs, The Great Northern is a top boozer that has enough room (both indoors and out) to seat a tiny, beer-sipping army. The classic venue does some delicious pub food, and its $14 steak night on Tuesdays is legendary. Grab your mates, book a table, and get ready for good times galore.
Whether you’re a bibliophile yourself or looking to pick up a rarity as a gift for a friend, Alice’s has a little something for everything. Stocking second-hand books, the beloved Melbourne bookstore is a treasure-trove of everything printed and bound. One of our favourite North Carlton picks for to-me, from-me treats.
Beautiful flowers wrapped together in exquisite bunches for all occasions. Oh, Art Stems, need we say more?
The Lab Organics
This beautiful cosmetics and skincare store stocks only the best in organic products to keep you looking, smelling and feeling fabulous. The Lab Organics staff are also experts in their field, making this the perfect skincare stop-off for some handy advice. Again, one of our favourites for pampering ourselves…we’ve earned it, right?!
The Little Bookroom
If you’re looking for something for a tinier Lister who loves to read (or look at pictures), get yourself to The Little Bookroom on Nicholson Street. The kids-only bookshop keeps the best selection of books for younger readers in Melbourne, including activity books, comics and young adult fiction. They also host Storytime Yoga, which sounds like a great idea no matter what age you are! Fifty Shades of Yoga Nidra, anyone?
Melbourne homewares fans, look no further! Feathered Arbour has enough textiles, furniture, home accessories, candles, stationery and just about every other homes and interiors treat under the sun to keep you occupied for days…Our top North Carlton shopping pick for flashing some plastic and sprucing up your living quarters.
Australian fashion label Katie Hosking produces gorgeous knits, shirts, scarves, accessories, and some of the most beautiful leather goods we’ve laid eyes on this year. It’s the perfect fashion boutique for finding that piece that pulls together an outfit, or picking up a whole new look. And the shoes! Want!