7 Melbourne Bars In Unexpected Places
Expect the unexpected.
Melbourne has bars in veiled locations all over the city. Even born-and-raised Melburnians can go their entire lives without overturning every single one of these establishments – especially because many are disguised as something other than what they are.
Regardless, here’s a list of bars you’ll find when you least expect it – from the hidden to the obscure to the bar-within-a-bar. Happy hunting!
1 / 7
Where: 27-29 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne
Accurately describing itself as “About as Melbourne as you can get”, Section 8’s most structured element is the window in a shipping container where you order drinks – and that’s literally a hole in the wall.
This bar is a completely outdoor venue with plants climbing the street art murals surrounding it. On warm nights, grab a spot on one of the items serving as furniture: transport pallets or hessian pillows atop wooden boxes. Don’t worry about that ever-present threat of Melbourne rain; although the venue is outdoors, a roof covers 95 percent of the space and heaters keep it nice and toasty in winter. It’s also sandwiched between a no-frills dumpling joint and a hotdog emporium in case you get hungry. Alternatively, the venue hosts regular food pop-ups on Friday nights.
2 / 7
Where: 86 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Eydie’s is a bar with the unexpected add-on of BYO food, flipping bring-your-own culture on its head. You can order in from nearby takeaway joints, including the Thai, Middle Eastern and Italian restaurants that make up Eydie’s neighbours.
In place of corking your wine, the bar staff can plate up your food – although you’ll be expected to buy a drink too (come on, they’re Masterchef-ing your takeaway). Like many bars on Lygon Street, Eydie’s starts with a simple door and opens up to a cosy world you don’t expect: one where homegrown booze makes up the majority of the drinks list, and crackly records spin deep into the night.
3 / 7
Where: Southbank Pedestrian Bridge, Southgate
A no-man’s land in the middle of the Yarra River, Ponyfish Island deserves a special place in the Hall of Fame for Unexpected Bars. Who’d have thought there would be a bar floating on the Yarra? Descend via the stairs on the Southbank Pedestrian Bridge to find this gem – it sits right underneath.
Day or night, admire the views of the CBD and Southbank over one of the drinks scrawled onto a giant chalkboard – including a variety of beers, wines and inventive cocktails in mason jars (classic Melbz). It also serves fresh subs as part of its seasonally-changing food menu.
Fun fact: The bar takes its name from the ponyfish – a mythical creature rumoured to swim in the Yarra River.
4 / 7
Where: 96 Chapel Street, Windsor
“Come for a sandwich, stay for a drink” should be the mantra at Jungle Boy, a bar concealed behind what looks like a refrigerator door in Windsor sandwich shop Boston Sub. And it keeps going; squeeze through the hallway to find additional seating in a backyard.
With taxidermy animal heads on exposed brick walls and unruly flora (indoors and outdoors), the theme here is vintage cool meets tiki funtimes. The cocktail list is extensive, boasting liquors mixed with tropical juices in many variations, all served in tall tiki cups. You can also order food from out front, including pulled pork subs and poutine.
5 / 7
Where: 3/48 Easey Street, Collingwood
Okay, so Easey’s isn’t a bar in the technical sense, but this train-themed burger joint has booze on the menu and is in a very unexpected location so it would be remiss to leave it out.
Easey’s owns a custom-made five-storey building, topped with repurposed Melbourne trains overlooking the city, which house a handful of dining tables. The food is epic burgers designed to give you a heart attack challenge you – such as the Melbourne Madness (two beef patties, a dim sim, a potato cake – or scallop, for those playing in other states – and jalapeños).
The cocktails match the all-in composition of the burgers, from the Peanut Butter Martini to the PT Rollercoaster (“all the booze we can fit in a glass”). But there are also beers and wines if your curiosity stops at the epic burgers. You can hop off at the second floor for a dining space area with ample seating, but you’ll probably want to be in one of the carriages up top. Book online to secure your seat.
6 / 7
Where: Vaults 1-9 Federation Wharf, Federation Square, Melbourne
Located right up against the edge of Federation Square, under the Princes Bridge, Riverland is a great hideaway if you don’t want to venture too far outside the CBD. The bar runs along the Yarra, offering great views of the water. It’s mostly outdoors, but there are good ol’ heating lamps and clear blinds to shade from the rain.
Riverland has a generous drinks list, with local and imported offerings. There are also seasonal cocktails and breakfast cocktails, for those who like to start early – get in from 8am to midday for avo smash or French toast. The day food menu includes hearty choices such as smoked chicken and fish and chips, as well as a variety of barbecued meats.
7 / 7
Fall From Grace
Where: 477 Collins Street, Melbourne
If you’re up for a secret agent-style bevvie, Fall From Grace is for you. It’s part of State of Grace, a bar that – despite its elaborate décor – seems like a fairly ordinary bar. But find a certain book on the bookshelf and you’ll gain access to the cellar bar downstairs.
State of Grace looks like something out of The Great Gatsby, with speakeasy style and an air of secrecy (even though once you get there the secret’s out, let’s be honest). Here, nostalgic cocktails in patterned goblets are the norm, made to accompany cheese boards, charcuterie platters and liver pâté with brioche.
(Lead image: Ponyfish Island/Facebook)