Back Alley Sally's is the latest in Jerome Borazio's ever expanding Get Notorious group's portfolio. If you've been to old favourites 1000 £ Bend or Ponyfish Island, you probably know what they're all about — grungy and dirty (without being literally dirty), and walls that come prefabricated with a powerpoint at every table for those who do their best work in the wild rather than the office.
Split the difference between the recently upgraded train station and the Footscray Community Arts Centre, and Back Alley Sally's sits somewhere in the middle, closest to the river end of Yewers Street. It's a literal back alley, complete with a basketball hoop and a friendly stray cat. It's an easy one to miss as the converted warehouse has no real neighbours — but with that seclusion comes appeal.
Downstairs, a gyrating red light looks like the entrance to a Dutch worker's window, but before long the colour changes, and changes again. Slice Girls West occupies the lower half of the venue. The casual, cosy pizza bar is a westside iteration of their small Little Lonsdale Street eatery, and contains a small counter — with an espresso machine serving Will & Co coffee — and a few high tables for sitting room. Space here is largely dominated by the kitchen out back, who are doing all the heavy lifting serving both upstairs and down. It's a familiar menu but with a few westside specials; their pizzas start at $12.
From four onwards, Wednesday to Saturday, you can head upstairs. Being a warehouse, it's a vast space, but there's an array of both casual and more intimate seating options. The soundtrack is old-school cool, and the brews flow freely. There's no shortage of choice either. The large bar takes centre stage at the heart of the room, with a substantial range of tap beers, wine and spirits. It's the perfect meeting place for that cheeky drink (read: jug) and cheap eats in the form of toasties, nachos burgers and the aforementioned pizzas.
The west is one of Melbourne's fastest growing areas and has even become a real destination for burger aficionados — but this type of bar is a first for Footscray. In many ways, Back Alley Sally's is the inner west's version of what makes Little Lonsdale Street famous. It's a winning formula that locals will likely grab and kiss with both hands. As Jim Morrison (sort of) says: The west is the best. Get here and they'll do the rest.
Slice Girls West downstairs is open Monday to Saturday 10am till late, and Sunday 10am till 9pm.
Images: Lewis Fischer.