So, you just moved to Melbourne (we don’t blame you) and you want to know where all this so-called 'culture' is?
We’re a welcoming bunch down here, but there’s a few things you need to know (or more specifically eat, drink, see and do) before you can officially call this city home. Once we’re done here, we can move on to more intricate things like underground gin bars and the definition of a 'Magic'.
For now, young Jedi, come underneath our wing as we show you the path to becoming a full-blown Melbournian. First things first, let's get you some black...
You don’t even have to have a bite of food to have your socks knocked off at Higher Ground. The high ceilings and exposed brick are so very #ontrend, making it the perfect place to start your Melbourne education. The eggs benny ain't too bad either.
This Japanese hangout is one of the hottest spots to be on a weekend—and the three hour wait times on a Saturday night are well worth it to get your hands on some MFC (Miyagi Fried Chicken) and edamame beans. While you wait, there’s an uber cool bar spinning uber cool tunes and uber cool neon signs. You get the picture.
Here in Melbs we loooove a good Asian fusion feed, and Chin Chin is one of the all-time greats. Go for the Feed Me option and let the chefs throw a party for your palate. Their cocktail menu has some really authentic options, so you can sound super cultured at work on Monday.
We tend to stick up our nose at any restaurant with more than three locations here in Melbs, but for one of the all-time greats, Huxtaburger, we'll make an exception. You can grab a juicy bad boy in a ton of suburbs around Melbs. Sadly the old crinkle cut chips are a thing of the past, but the chicken burger still puts a smile on our dial.
Something you have to get your pretty little head around, now you’re (almost) a Melbournian, is the beauty of minimalist cafe aesthetics. And pastels. And succulents. High Society caters to all of the above. Grab a chia pudding and take notes.
Okay, so try not to throw your chopsticks in the air shouting YASS QUEEEN after every bite, but nobody will blame you if you do. Get stuck into a dish at Rice Queen and then close your eyes and be transported to the far corners of Asia (in a figurative, marketing sort of way). Oh, there’s also a karaoke room out the back.
Every seasoned Melbournian knows that a trip to Top Paddock is never complete without chowing down on one of their almost-too-pretty-to-eat ricotta hotcakes. Don’t you dare take a bite without Instagramming it first though.
Did you really think we would forget our favourite Italians? Our bet is once you feast your eyes on the treats, sweets and cakes from the legendary Brunetti, you’ll probably undo a whole week's worth of cardio in one go. Sorry, not sorry.
Okay more Asian-inspired food, but you literally signed up for all this, so chuck another loop on your belt and get on with it. The buzzing dining hall at Supernormal is as Melbourne as it gets. And if you don't try one of their signature lobster roles, you may as well move back to Sydney.
There once was a lost little lamb who stumbled its way into a Melbourne fairy tale…Yep, that’s you, kiddo, and the bar we’re on about is called Storyville. It’s a fairy tale-themed bar with epic cocktails and glowing toadstools to match. It’s also open super late, and pulling an (almost) all-nighter will earn you another gold sticker on your Melbourne education.
Arbory Bar & Eatery
You’ve got a bunch of things that sum up Melbourne perfectly at the Arbory—Espresso martinis made to perfection, a bar on the banks of the Yarra, and killer burgers for when hunger strikes. If you're stopping by over summer, make sure you head down to their floating pop-up bar, Arbory Afloat.
Naked In The Sky
Arguably the best view over wider Melbs. If you looked up #views on Insta, 99% would be of pics from this rooftop at Naked In The Sky. Nibble on some share plates and sip down a glass of rosè, or choose from one of the gazzilion house-infused vodkas.
Every single must-have box is ticked here. Dr Morse has a drool-worthy menu, cool vibes for your gram game, and a dope Sunday session that's known throughout the North. Did we mention that nailing a Sunday session is on the final exam?
Try to keep up here. Another integral part of becoming fully Melbourne-ised is nailing the hipster vibes when required. There’s no better place to scrub up on your knowledge than Howler. You’ve got an open warehouse with more greenery than Nan’s front yard, a funky drinks menu and food to match. Brilliant.
You know how this goes by now, we eat Asian food, we sip cocktails and we get out minds blown every time. But at Cookie, we then we head up to the rooftop bar and soak in the CBD skyline, and then FINALLY we go down a level to the Toff In Town to boogie off all the noodles. Sound good?
Don’t go to Om Nom on a full stomach, little newbie, because we can't actually decide if we’re getting drinks or desserts half the time. We’re not complaining though. Cop a load of this—frozen salted caramel espresso martini. I think we’re done here.
You didn’t think we'd forget coffee, did you? If you’re from any other city, *cough, Sydney, cough* you're going to need a coffee education, stat. (Savage). Luckily, you’ve got St Ali to catch you up to speed with bean and roast knowledge. It’s in a warehouse too, so it's a double Melbourne lesson.
Yarra Valley Winery Tour
Okay, we may not have the Barossa Valley, but a Yarra Valley day trip is still a rocking good time. There’s plenty of options to get you there from the city and back. Just try not to blow the bus driver’s eardrums with your rendition of Party In The USA after your fifth tasting…
Corny? Nope, it's classic. Head to the main hall out back, lie down on the carpet and gaze up at the biggest stained glass ceilin in the Southern Hemisphere. After that, it's time to see what's on. The NGV has lifted its exhibition game in recent years—we've had everyone from Andy Warhol to Van Gogh. You may have the Melbourne food and drink game down pat, but being #artsy and #cultured is another badge you need to earn.
After all those burgers and dumplings and cocktails and cakes and...you get the picture, we need to get moving to keep ourselves looking Victoria's Secret catwalk-ready. The 1,000 steps is a picture-perfect
stairway to hell walking track, but it’s no walk in the park. Get in early to beat the worst of the traffic. That carpark fills up quick.
Picnic In The Botanical Gardens
We’re not talking any old picnic, no no. This experience has been Melbourn-ified. Grab some mates, a six pack of your favourite craft brew, some tunes, some rugs and set yourself up in the Botanical gardens for an instant good-vibes afternoon. Good luck planning ahead though, have you heard about our weather?
Eat A Pie At The MCG
If you haven’t seen an AFL game at the G, then we're sorry, petal, but that’s a big old black mark against your name. We will settle for cricket, but us Victorians loooove our footy. Just don't cheer for Collingwood...or Hawthorn.
QVM Night Market
More yummies, but we can pass it off for a cultural sightseeing experience in a pinch. The night market at QVM runs pretty much year round, and has food to match how ol’ Mother Nature is feeling. During winter, think cheese wheel pasta. And in summer you’ve got cocktails and Pimm's Cups galore. There’s also heaps of awesome market stalls if you wanna spend a few bucks.
Catch A Gig At The Corner Hotel
Are you keeping up? We’re nearly done (phase one). The Corner Hotel hosts a ton of acts almost every damn day, from local homegrown gems to international tours. Its cosy setting means catching a gig here gives you bragging rights, and god knows—you need them. You can also grab a decent pub meal too, like a Parma. That’s ParmA with an A.
Ready to venture out of the CBD? Check out Victoria’s best day spa getaways
Image credit: Griffin Simm