Bars & Pubs

The Single Guy’s Guide to First Dates in Melbourne

By Daniel Colasimone
11th Sep 2014

Chaps always talk about how good it is to be single, but 87% of the time they are actually lying.

Sure, going to bars and clubs with your mates and hitting on women sounds like a blast. More often than not, though, those nights end with you alone in the line at Maccas and result in hellacious hangovers and a pillow that's soaked with the salty man-tears of despair and defeat.

The chances of meeting a lady you genuinely like are slim. The chances of ending up at an ear-drum-burstingly loud club wall-to-wall with dudes, spending all your rent money, embarrassing your friends, and waking up to the taste of kebab-with-tabouli-and-garlic-sauce in your mouth are high.

Let's face it. Unless you have the looks of Michael Fassbender or the charisma of Larry Emdur, girls are most likely to be repelled by your gawkish attempts at pitching woo.

Unless you're mega-rich like Mitt Romney, or have a glamourous profession like 'Urban List writer', you are going to have to spend a huge amount of time and effort just to convince some random mademoiselle that you are even worth talking to, let alone going on a date with.

But say you actually meet a nice girl, perhaps at Book Club or in your life drawing class, and she agrees to go out with you? The whole dating thing can be a bit of a chore, too. That sounds very cynical. It can also be joyous and life-affirming. But it can also be a chore. If you realise early on that there is no spark between the two of you, the whole situation can get plain awkward. If only there were some magical third party that could come in and sort out your date night, and your friends could come too, and they'd shout you a round of drinks. Oh wait, there is – Winger. Don't know it? You should. It's bloody awesome.

Anyway, back to this girl you met in rehab. You want to take her out somewhere fairly casual for a first date, without the pressure of the whole fancy dinner-and-a-show thing. You still want to impress her, though.

Here are our picks of some excellent Melbourne bars that hit just the right tone for a first date.


With its cosy décor and awesome menu, choosing this South Melbourne bar as a destination will earn you major props for good taste. Try the Lamaro's chef's platter to share to get an idea of the types of food on offer, or just dip into one of the eight tap beers or other tempting drink concoctions in the cocktail lounge. 

The Noble Experiment 

Paying homage to an early 20th century American drinking den, The Noble Experiment in Collingwood pretty much ticks all the boxes you'd want when you are taking someone out for a few beverages. It has got everything; the warm ambiance, expert bar staff, delicious American-style food, and extensive drinks menu. Bring a girl to this joint and there should be nothing Prohibition-ing you from getting hot and heavy later on. Sorry. 

The Grace Darling Hotel 

One of Melbourne's oldest pubs, there's nothing stale about this Collingwood date desto. The Grace Darling's recent refurb' means she's a stylish dame (there's a pirate motif that'll shiver your date's timbers), plus brilliant eats if you want to fulfil all your date duties and buy her dinner.

Trust us, you'll fool her into thinking you're cool if you take your darling here. And when you run out of witty conversation, you can always pop upstairs to catch a band. 


Erotically bite into a Riverland Bratwurst sausage and admire the view of the Yarra at this open-air Fed Square institution. You'll find just the right blend of swanky and laid back for a breezy, low-pressure date.

The Carlton

Belying its fairly conservative name, The Carlton is a bar that has multiple personalities, and all of them are lovable. The beauty of such a neurosis is that you can choose where to plant yourself depending on the mood of the date. Want to get cosy in a booth with a warm meal? Do it. Lovely evening to sit under the stars? Try the rooftop bar, Palmz. Need to get drunk? Enjoy a classy cocktail or four. Want to stare at a life-sized stuffed animal? Giraffe or ostrich? They've got 'em.

Araliya | St Kilda

This sexy newcomer is just the place to spice things up, southside. If you're peckish, perch at the bar and nibble on some delicious Sri Lankan finger food and down a round or two of the lady killer cocktails (our pick is the chilli and grapefruit margarita). If your lovely is a leaf eater, there are heaps of veggie dishes on offer at Araliya, too.  

Berlin Bar

Impress your date with your knowledge of Soviet-era politics when you take her to the Berlin Bar on Corrs Lane in the CBD. This is not just a throwaway moniker, either, the whole place is themed around communist East versus affluent West Germany from the time when the wall divided the city. It's an unusual premise, but it's also a lot of fun; and a great talking point.

Need help in the dating department? 

Speaking of dating… need some help in that department? Think I should be punched in the nose for suggesting all these great places when you still CAN'T GET A DATE to actually take to them? Well, what if I told you we could organise a great night out for you and two of your mates, match you up with three cute chicks, and send you to one of the best bars in town? You'd be keen, right? And we haven't even told you that we're shouting the first round. Girls + drinks + more girls + mates + fun. Why are you still reading this? Click on over to Winger and register for one epic party.  

Image credit: Pop Sugar.

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