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The 20 Best Pubs in Melbourne

Looking for a new local? This selection of classic Melbourne boozers and more contemporary gastropubs will suit all beer and parma enthusiasts.
By Andrew Zuccala and Concrete Playground
January 10, 2024
By Andrew Zuccala and Concrete Playground
January 10, 2024


Looking for a new local? This selection of classic Melbourne boozers and more contemporary gastropubs will suit all beer and parma enthusiasts.

Pubs are the beating heart of Melbourne's drinking and dining culture. It's almost un-Australian not to have a favourite beer garden, pot and parma deal or pub trivia spot. That's why we take this list of the best pubs in Melbourne very seriously.

We've been hitting up popular haunts and exploring hidden gems all over the city to create this complete guide to the best Melbourne pubs. So, read on to see if your favourite Melbourne boozer has made the cut and potentially discover a local treasure that's been hiding right under your nose.


Recommended reads:
The Best Bars in Melbourne
The Best (and Cosiest) Bars and Pubs with Fireplaces in Melbourne
The Best Restaurants in Melbourne
The Best Beer Gardens in Melbourne

  • 20
    Someone waiting at the bar at Northcote Social Club - one of the best Melbourne pubs.

    The Northcote Social Club is a veteran of the Melbourne music scene, and like many classic venues of yore, it’s had a few little facelifts over the years. Gone is the faded glory of an ageing Aussie pub (though the interior has retained much of its old-school warmth) with a thoroughly modern music venue and pub existing in its place.

    This haunt still focuses on hosting great live gigs, but it’s no longer the only reason to visit. Come for a great selection of craft beers and pub classic dishes or stick to the weekly deals. Monday nights are cosmo and parma nights. Wednesdays are for pies and pots. Thursdays are all about steaks. And the Sunday roasts are some of the best in town — best paired with a few rounds of Bloody Marys. Nowadays, you can easily come for food and booze only and be a very happy camper.

    Image: Josie Withers

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  • 19
    A chicken parma and a pint at The Edinburgh Castle - one of the best pubs in Melbourne

    This Brunswick pub located toward the top end of Sydney Road has been around for yonks. It has had a few little makeovers in its storied past, but an old school boozer it remains. Peer over the large, curved bar in the main room and order some craft brews and classic pub grub before running out to the turfed beer garden to soak up some sun and catch a little live music gig.

    Come winter, the locals head indoors (with the live music) for long nights of drinking, eating and playing either pool or table tennis. It’s one of the best Melbourne pubs any day of the year.

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  • 18
    A steak at the Station Hotel - one of the best pubs in Melbourne

    Long considered one of Melbourne’s best steak destinations, The Station Hotel sure knows how to make a great piece of meat shine. Hit this gorgeous heritage pub in Footscray from 12pm each week and enjoy one of the ten different steak options on offer split into grass fed or grain fed options. Oysters, parmas, burgers, risottos and fish and chips also make an appearance for those wanting other traditional pub offerings.

    Wash it all down with a long list of regularly rotating Aussie beers and wines — or some top shelf spirits — to have the ultimate Melbourne pub experience.

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  • 17
    The Corner Hotel in Richmond - one of the best pubs in Melbourne

    Development of inner city suburbs means that the classic Aussie pub — much like the endangered corner store or a Paddle Pop in the sun — is at risk of disappearing. Like many Melbourne pubs, The Corner Hotel underwent a refurb a few years back — but, unlike some, it emerged all the better for it. The respectful renovation and careful design of the rooftop bar left local fans happy and no doubt introduced a new generation of pub-goers to one of the city’s best live music venues.

    Overlooking the Richmond Station train lines, The Corner’s indoor-outdoor rooftop bar has an air-conditioned area for hot days, a large smoking area and an even bigger heated non-smoker deck for any weather. The Melbourne pub has made a name for itself by hosting gigs since the 1940s, with huge names having played a gig in the hallowed sticky-floored halls — think the Violent Femmes, The White Stripes, Public Enemy, Joan Jett, Joe Strummer and Crowded House.

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  • 16
    Railway Club Hotel in Melbourne - home to some of the best steak in the city.

    The Railway Club Hotel is a true Melbourne institution — with a happening bar at the front and an elegant dining room upstairs, it caters for all diners looking for a great host of experiences. The Melbourne pub itself is charming with exposed brick arches, a Parisian salon of framed images on the wall and deep brown wood finishes throughout. It is elegant and sophisticated but still fun and carefree.

    The same can be said for the food. You can opt for a chicken parma or banging house-made gnocchi and be very happy. But this spot is known for being home to some of Melbourne’s best steaks that aren’t crazy expensive. You select your cut from a display fridge and sit back, knowing the chefs are going to grill up something spectacular.

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  • 15
    People drinking at the Drunken Poet in West melbourne - one of the best pubs in Melbourne

    Touted as the best Irish pub outside of Ireland, this tiny spot located at the top end of Queen Vic Market is easy to miss. Come for live music five nights a week (both traditional and contemporary), genuine Irish charm and the perfectly poured Guinness — important for those who know what a good dry stout should taste like.

    We also love that The Drunken Poet isn’t kitsch or gimmicky like many other Irish pubs you find around the world. What you do get is incredibly warm hospitality, great beers and whiskies and the occasional fiddle playing trad jigs in the corner. But do note that this pub is mostly a drinking destination. It does serve some toasted sandwiches, packets of chips and pickled eggs, but we see it as more of a spot to head either before or after a meal in West Melbourne.

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  • 14
    People drinking on the rooftop at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda - one of the best pubs and rooftop bars in Melbourne

    St Kilda’s Local Taphouse is a Carlisle Street institution and must-visit location for draught lovers — its 19 rotating taps go through more than 400 different beers a year. And it’s no surprise, considering its owners are Stomping Ground Brewing Co.‘s Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone, who are also the creators of the GABS craft beer festival.

    Whatever it’s tapping, there’s no better place to enjoy it than by the outdoor log fire, which warms up the Taphouse’s spacious rooftop beer garden in winter. There’s also a second indoor fireplace downstairs for when the weather turns sour. In summer, it’s the rooftop beer garden that wins over regular punters rustling for a spot in the sun.

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  • 13
    A local drinking at the bar in the North Melbourne Town Hall Hotel (Townie) - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    Lovingly known as The Townie to locals, this old school boozer has changed very little over the years. Walk into the front bar to find the walls covered in an eclectic mix music memorabilia and vinyls, an old chandelier and carpeted floors that smell like they’ve been around for a while. It’s not trying to be glam. And we would never want it to be.

    The staff know their regulars well, and welcome anyone to join the community of music- and beer- loving folks. Either grab a seat in the small front bar, head into the dining room out back or explore the sprawling maze-like outdoor space. Find a spot in the driveway, out in the carpark or in the secret little beer garden that’s shrouded in trees. The Town Hall Hotel North Melbourne is a proper hidden gem that best be visited by any Aussie pub lover. Classics never die and this is one that endures.

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  • 12
    A selection of food and wine at Half Moon - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    Brighton’s Half Moon pub — run by the same group that owns Lucky Coq, Portsea Hotel and The Albert Park Hotel — is huge. Behind the building’s original historic façade, lies six separate (and recently done-up) drinking and dining spaces, split across two levels.

    Food-wise, expect a menu of glammed-up pub classics in the main dining room. Here, the team is serving sophisticated dishes like steak tartare, octopus carpaccio, crispy pork belly and an enormous braised lamb shoulder to be shared. But fear not, you can still get your parma and other pub favourites at the front bar and beer garden. Half Moon is covering all bases, whether you’re feeling high-end or basic and beery.

    Image: Simon Shiff

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  • 11
    Someone ordering a drink at The Standard Hotel in Fitzroy - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    Even Fitzroy locals would be forgiven for not knowing this place exists. Strategically tucked away on a one-way road off Brunswick Street, The Standard Hotel seems to punch well above its weight. Outside, an outdated Carlton Draught sign hangs from the awnings coated in flecking old paint, but inside lies a labyrinthine of dining rooms and a huge tree-shrouded beer garden that’s up there with the best of them in Melbourne.

    Similar to The Brunswick Green, the bar offers a comforting retro vibe with accumulated clutter covering the walls and faithful friendly bar staff. But unlike the Brunswick Green, these guys still serve food. Get around all your pub classics, pairing them with a spritz, cider and sunshine during summer. And while this pub might be hard to find, the space is roaring on hot summer days — be sure to book a table ahead of time.

    Image: Bobby Dazzler

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  • 10
    People outside the Espy - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    Better known by Melburnians as The Espy, this hallowed Melbourne pub made a triumphant return at the tail-end of 2018. A mighty revamp added two levels, brought in an innovative art program and restored the pub’s live stages, continuing its life as the longest-running music venue in Australia.

    Stroll straight in from St Kilda Beach through the Espy’s majestic Victorian foyer and into The Espy Kitchen to feast on pub grub and share plates. Follow the grand staircase upwards to find Mya Tiger — a Cantonese Restaurant that overlooks Port Melbourne — and The Ghost of Alfred Felton, a gorgeous cocktail bar that’s made for late night hangs. With all this work done back in 2018, The Espy is set to keep its place as one of the very best pubs in Melbourne for many years to come.

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  • 9
    The main indoor space full of people at the Great Northern Hotel - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    The Great Northern is a pub for pub-lovers — the ones who like to watch the footy and really know their beers. Boasting 22 taps with a regular rotation of craft beers including Balter, 2 Brothers, Slumdog Brewing Co and Stone & Wood, and a selection from the ever-present Brooklyn Brewery, this is definitely the place to go for a pint.

    But it’s not only about the beers. The sprawling Melbourne pub does some decent pub food too. Get around a chicken or eggplant parma, some deliciously greasy burgers and a few steaks and salads. Nothing on the food menu will surprise you, but it will keep you happily fuelled for a long day or night out in Carlton.

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  • 8
    Seats outside The Lincoln - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    Historic Carlton pub, The Lincoln, is best known for its progressive booze offering and its produce-driven pub feeds. Pull up a stool at the Art Deco bar and order yourself a pint of craft beer (or a Carlton Draught, naturally) from one of the 12 taps. For wine, expect an extensive list of small, interesting winemakers and, if you’re more into the hard stuff, there’s an array of spirits and liqueurs, too, with everything from amaro to mezcal and top-shelf whisky.

    In the warmer months, you can sit outside on the footpath; otherwise, the dining area with retro French posters makes for a good place to while away the hours. Coming out of the kitchen are dishes made with top-quality regional, sustainable and seasonal produce — with the team serving one of the best Sunday roasts in Melbourne.

    Image: Georgia Verrells

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  • 7
    The beer garden at Rainbow Hotel - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    A mere 50-metres from Brunswick Street, The Rainbow Hotel is home to a massive beer garden, regular live music gigs and a fireplace that roars all day and night during winter. It’s been around for 150 years, having received just enough touch-ups to keep it from falling down, but not enough to remove the many layers of charm that come with the Melbourne pub.

    The draught beers, wines and cocktails are all fairly standard here, but the 100-strong bottled beers list is mighty impressive. Tell the bartenders your preferred brew styles and they’ll suggest something new for you to discover. Or you could just stick to your usual Carlton Draught and call it a day. Dealer’s choice.

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  • 6
    people at the main bar of the spread eagle -the spready - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    Better known as The Spready, this Richmond haunt is home to all your pub necessities. Come for a decent selection of beers, live music, Sunday trivia and a really great parma. But unlike many other Melbourne pubs, these guys don’t just make a good parma and then leave it there.

    Instead, the kitchen pumps out a big mix of greasy eats and more refined dishes. Share some potato cakes, Korean fried chicken and beef sliders with your mates or try the melt-in-your-mouth braised lamb shank and the classic French coq au vin. The Spready isn’t reinventing the wheel, but it has perfected all the essential Melbourne pub elements.

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  • 5
    The dining room at The Alberty park Hotel - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    The historic Albert Park Hotel unveiled its grand makeover at the hands of new owners Colonial Leisure Group at the end of 2020. Joining a stable of popular venues that includes the likes of Portsea Hotel, Half Moon and Lucky Coq, the Melbourne pub jumped back onto the scene with a contemporary new look and a modern Chinese food offering.

    The full revamp has also gifted the space with a new four-storey atrium and old-meets-new interiors, bringing new life to the venue’s original brickwork and historic features. Expect dim sum aplenty at the bar and dining room and creative Asian-inspired cocktails upstairs in the lounge room. Take your time scaling the Albert Park Hotel, drinking and eating as you go.

    Image: Simon Shiff

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  • 4
    People drinking at the bar at Terminus Hotel - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    Rescued from demolition in 2014, the Terminus Hotel was reimagined, revamped and replenished from its former days as a local dive — all while holding onto its trademark laidback charm. And it has received a few more new layers of paint since then.

    Consequently, the team has created a polished space that still manages to be accessible and unthreatening to families, foodies, and 1am party-harders alike. Grab a seat in the jungle-like beer garden (that’s also dog-friendly) to watch the footy on a weekend or grab a booth inside the old boozer to escape the tele.

    Image: Tofu Studio

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  • 3
    The bar at the Builders Arms in Fitzroy - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    This Gertrude Street pub has existed in many a form over the years. But its 2018 renovation saw it become a quintessential locals’ pub with enough style to impress your mum. When it comes to both food and design, the whole pub has a contemporary British feel about it. Grab a seat in the sleek bistro come dining hall, ordering UK-accented dishes from Michelin-trained chef Andy Barkham — think fish pies, scotch eggs, and bangers and mash — or just hit the beers at the public bar.

    Here, there’s a 12-strong tap beer rotation filled with favourites, and a considered crop of wines to suit just about every palate. If the weather is kind, take yours out back to the leafy, secluded courtyard for the ultimate summer arvo pub sesh.

    Image: Roberto Pettinau

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  • 2
    The exterior of The Napier hotel in Fitzroy - one of the best pubs in Melbourne.

    Closer to the classic British pub than most, The Napier Hotel is a winner all year round — but it’s the warm fire that makes this an excellent choice in the winter months. Pull up a pew at one of the big communal tables and settle in for a cosy night out.

    Get on the beers, making your way through the lengthy local draught options or get a glass of something nice from the surprisingly well curated list of wines. The pub grub is also a big win at The Napier. Get around a bunch of kangaroo options – either in steak form, chucked in a salad or added to the classic chicken parma — or opt for the crispy swordfish tacos and the spaghetti marina that’s stacked with fresh seafood. This Melbourne pub is well worn-in worth a visit anytime of the year.

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  • 1
    Marquis of Lorne rooftop - the best pub in Melbourne with one of the best rooftop bars in Melbourne.

    Like many a Fitzroy pub, the Marquis of Lorne has been through a few refurbs over the years, finally settling in its current form spread across three levels. On the ground floor, you’ll find your classic public bar with a tele in the corner and all your usual suspects on draught. Head up the stairs to then find the more refined dining room (another staple amongst some of Melbourne’s best pubs).

    Up here, you’ll find your classic pub grub has been given a makeover. This is all paired well with the long wine list full of pet nats, skin contact drops and locally made vinos. Then there’s the almighty rooftop bar — easily one of the best in Melbourne. Head up here on a sunny day to find tables full of spritzes and tinnies. But be sure to arrive somewhat early on a weekend. It fills up fast.

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Top image: The Standard Hotel by Bobby Dazzler.

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