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13° & CLOUDY ON FRIDAY 6 DECEMBER IN MELBOURNE

In the inner city, any laneway could hold the perfect cup of coffee, and a vintage bargain is always just a short tram ride away.

From the lush greenery of Carlton Gardens, through the tram-filled streets of the CBD and over the river to the aisles of South Melbourne Market, there are hidden gems to be found all over Melbourne.

To help you uncover the best ones, we’ve teamed up with American Express to pull together a selection of the businesses that give Melbourne its character — and that you can shop small at. Start on Lygon Street, make your way through the city’s laneways and arcades and finish with oysters and croissants at the market. All of these shops and eating spots will welcome you — and your American Express Card — with open arms.

GETTING AROUND

All roads lead to the CBD. Flinders Street Station is a good starting point to wander on foot, or a train to Melbourne Central will drop you right in the middle of the action. Trams are free in the CBD but remember to touch on when on the 57 to North Melbourne or the 109 to Port Melbourne Beach.

DON’T MISS

Despite what you may have heard, print isn’t dead — and we’ve got the bookshops to prove it. Get lost in the shelves of The Paperback or Metropolis, before walking up to Carlton Gardens to find a spot to read under a shady tree next to the Royal Exhibition Building.

HIGH STREETS

If the street name has ‘Little’ or ‘Lane’ in it, it’s a goer. From Flinders Lane to Little Collins and Little Bourke streets, the CBD is waiting to be explored. Otherwise, stroll down Coventry Street to the South Melbourne Market, or choose from the many family-run restaurants on Lygon Street.

LOCALS LOVE

Melbourne’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in the Southern Hemisphere. Running along Little Bourke Street, between Swanston and Spring, the area dates back to the gold rush days of the 1850s and is home to institutions like Supper Inn.

THE SHOPPING LISTS

Explore three of the inner city's thriving shopping precincts.

Ben from Gin Palace
The Localist: CBD
Coming Soon

Your Inner City Hit List

Looking for fresh produce, funky cheese or a one-of-a-kind gift? Find what you're looking for here.
List
Map
  • Design & Style
    Melbourne

    L'uccello

    A small store overflowing with vintage haberdashery and fine goods, this is a craft-maker's haven.

  • Design & Style
    Melbourne

    Lucy Folk Jewellery

    The Melbourne-based designer combined her love of travel and skills as a goldsmith to create this nomadic lifestyle brand.

  • Design & Style
    North Melbourne

    The Paw Principality

    All natural pet products for your beloved four-legged friends

  • Design & Style
    Melbourne

    Books for Cooks

    An independent bookstore with over 40,000 titles dedicated to food and wine

  • Design & Style
    Carlton

    Make Designed Objects

    Modern and sophisticated homewares

  • Design & Style
    Carlton

    Poppyshop

    A toy store for any child — or adult.

  • Arts & Entertainment
    North Melbourne

    Heartland Records

    A North Melbourne institution for vinyl lovers.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Gewurzhaus Herb & Spice Merchants Carlton

    Gewürzhaus will spice up your life with more than 350 different herbs, spices, salts, peppers, sugars and teas.

  • Design & Style
    North Melbourne

    Martin Fella Vintage

    Select vintage pieces handpicked by the man himself.

  • Food & Drink
    South Melbourne

    Magnum + Queens Wine

    This South Melbourne wine boutique and bar offers a carefully curated list of stellar wines.

  • Food & Drink
    South Melbourne

    Agathe Patisserie

    Pastries worth standing in line for.

  • Food & Drink
    South Melbourne

    Bambu Asian Eating House

    A great spot to refuel after a busy day of shopping.

  • Design & Style
    South Melbourne

    Nest

    For those looking to make their home look, smell and feel great, this is the place.

  • Design & Style
    South Melbourne

    Paperpoint

    A South Melbourne paper and stationery haven just waiting to be explored.

  • Food & Drink
    Port Melbourne

    Decanters by the Bay

    Supplying quality beer, wine and spirits to the people of Port Melbourne.

  • Design & Style
    Albert Park

    The Garden of Eden Nursery

    An Albert Park favourite for green thumbs and those trying their best.

  • Design & Style
    South Melbourne

    Pomegranate

    This store has been delighting locals with homewares and gifts for 20 years.

  • Design & Style
    Albert Park

    Scarlet Jones

    An Albert Park gem stocking ethically produced, timeless fashion and homewares.

  • Design & Style
    Melbourne

    Ziggurat Design

    A colourful store selling everything from handmade leather bags and coin purses, to bright umbrellas and satin pillowcases.

  • Design & Style
    Melbourne

    Pollon Flowers

    Tucked away into Flinders Lane, Pollon Flowers is a green glade among the brickwork.

  • Design & Style
    South Melbourne

    Made In Japan

    Ceramics and tableware from small, family-run Japanese businesses.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Gewurzhaus Herb & Spice Merchants Block Arcade

    Spice up your life and your cooking with an unrivalled selection of herbs and spices.

  • Design & Style
    South Melbourne

    Vincent Design Supply

    This family-run store has enough minimalist Scandinavian pieces to completely makeover your home.

  • Design & Style
    Melbourne

    Top3 by Design Emporium Melbourne

    This design store stocks more than 1000 products — but only three of each type.

  • Food & Drink
    Kensington

    Local Folk

    A local Kensington corner cafe serving up coffee, wine and breakfast gnocchi.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Taquito

    Carlton's temple of tacos, tequila and handmade tortillas.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Liminal

    An all-day CBD dining hub from the team behind Top Paddock and Higher Ground.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Stalactites Restaurant

    A Melbourne institution with 24-hour gyros.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Di Stasio Citta

    Part art gallery, party Italian restaurant, this CBD is the second outpost of St Kilda's Cafe Di Stasio.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    La La Land

    This CBD oasis is just like your living room — but with more cocktails and Chesterfields.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Assembly

    A go-to Carlton coffee shop with pour-over, beans and all the equipment you could need.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Hardware Societe

    A sprawling new cafe that marks the second CBD venue for the Melbourne institution.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Bar Clara

    This new Little Bourke Street cocktail bar showcases local and seasonal produce.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Union Electric

    This Chinatown bar boasts an ever-changing cocktail offering and a rooftop gin garden.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    The George on Collins

    This basement CBD venue has a Vietnamese-inspired food and drinks menu by MasterChef Khanh Ong.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Peaches

    Here you can pair stunning city views with 90s pop-themed cocktails and fried chicken sangas till 3am.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Mr Crackles

    Pork rolls, hot dogs and crackling — yes, please.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    King & Godfree

    The 135-year-old institution has been reborn as a three-level Italian food mecca.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Laneway Greens

    An all-day wholefoods canteen in the heart of the CBD.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Makan

    An Indonesian eatery run by My Kitchen Rules victors, the Seger sisters.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Kaprica

    A lively pizzeria perfect for getting a group of friends together to share some hearty Italian fare.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Lune Croissanterie CBD

    Some of the best croissants in the world are now being baked in the CBD every weekday.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Super Ling

    This Chinese eatery is doing Hakka-style cuisine, with surprising dishes like mapo tofu jaffles, and a Chinese take on the mille feuille.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Capitano

    Italian food with an Aussie edge and revamped classic cocktails in the Beaufort's former Carlton space.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Bar Saracen

    Punch Lane's modern Middle Eastern diner.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Shujinko

    Giant bowls of ramen 24 hours a day.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    European Bier Cafe

    A triple-level bar boasting a broad spectrum of local and international beers.

  • Food & Drink
    Docklands

    Woolshed — Temporarily Closed

    A waterfront gastropub where you can relax and soak in your surroundings.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    The Bank on Collins

    Finally a bank you might actually want to visit.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Bar Carlo

    A tiny laneway bar serving up panini and coffee by day, and cicchetti and spritzes by night.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Heroes

    A multi-level hawker-style barbecue and karaoke joint in the CBD.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Pentolina

    This CBD eatery serves fresh pasta made in-house daily, and it has dietary-requirement friendly options.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Ippudo QV

    The Japanese ramen chain is now dishing up its lauded soup in the QV building.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Brunetti

    A Melbourne cafe institution has a modern makeover on Flinders Lane.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Ishizuka

    The eatery specialises in a balanced kaiseki by acclaimed Japanese chef Tomotaka Ishizuka.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Beneath Driver Lane

    Blues and bourbon in a moody underground space.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Saxe

    Delicately plated Modern Australian cuisine in the legal district.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Annam

    Forget cheap banh mi. This new Vietnamese restaurant serves tuna tataki with cumquat, salted caramel fried ice cream and gin cocktails.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Juliet

    Punch Lane's basement raclette, jazz and wine bar.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Lello Pasta Bar

    Serving up Italian breakfasts, early morning cocktails and eight types of regional pastas on Flinders Lane.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Father's Office

    Overlooking the State Library, this CBD bar serves up burgers, wings and a generous happy hour.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Massi

    Your CBD pitstop for all things Sicilian — including Aperitivo Hour.

  • Food & Drink
    Docklands

    Hightail

    Order Belles Hot Chicken, Mr Burger or Super Taco straight to your table at this food court-like eatery.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Souk

    Hummus, cocktails and Turkish dumplings in a pink-hued CBD space.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Good Heavens

    A CBD Palm Springs-inspired rooftop bar above Fancy Hank's.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Aunty Franklee

    Contemporary, affordable Malaysian food in an unassuming CBD location.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Sezar

    A CBD restaurant championing contemporary Armenian food.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Higher Ground

    The Kettle Black team have opened a mammoth new CBD cafe — and it's a beauty.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Philippe

    The French chef's new venture features his signature rotisserie chook.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Trattoria Emilia

    A real Italian joint doing a mean ragu.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Doughboys Doughnuts

    The doughnut kings of Melbourne finally have their own permanent store.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Hochi Mama

    This Vietnamese mama packs a real punch.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Storyville

    Where sipping insect-garnished cocktails from a magical toadstool bar is just a regular night out.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Crystal Jade

    Reliable yum cha is the middle of Chinatown.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Tahini

    A Lebanese diner from the guy behind Code Black Coffee.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Shortstop Coffee & Donuts

    Your one-stop CBD doughnut shop.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Bar Ampere

    End your night with French aperitifs and raclette at this Parisian bar.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Supper Inn

    This Melbourne institution serves up a veritable Cantonese feast.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Tetsujin

    Emporium's new sushi train and barbecue has a little something for every taste.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Embla

    Raise a glass to Melbourne’s wine bar renaissance.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Schmucks Bagels

    Don't be a fool — try these bagels.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Hunters' Roots

    Clean eating has never tasted better. 

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Shakahari

    Melbourne's oldest vegetarian restaurant.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    The Mill House

    Channel the Prohibition era and sip moonshine below street level.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Bottega

    Perfect for a romantic dinner or a few lunchtime drinks.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Kenzan

    Several of Melbourne's best Japanese chefs owe a debt of a gratitude to Kenzan.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Hash Specialty Coffee

    Hashtag delicious.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Boilermaker House

    The perfect combo of whisky, beer, cheese and charcuterie.

  • Food & Drink
    West Melbourne

    Hello Jose

    Margaritas and a bit of laidback Mexican hospitality at West Melbourne's new little taqueria.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Heartattack and Vine

    The new Italian kid on the Carlton block is cool, comfy and serves chicchetti all night.

  • Food & Drink
    Southbank

    Blondie Bar

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Arbory Bar & Eatery

    With great views and even better food, this is one platform you won't mind getting delayed on. 

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Milk the Cow Carlton

    Carlton cheese dreams at the Cow.

  • Food & Drink
    South Wharf

    The General Assembly

    The General Assembly keeps things simple with craft beer on tap, good bar food and riverside views.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Gin Palace

    Luxe, dim and full of your favourite spirit: gin.

  • Food & Drink
    South Wharf

    The Boatbuilders Yard

    Located right on the harbour at South Wharf, this is the place to go if you like your drinks served with a view.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Hell's Kitchen

    Hell's Kitchen. Our heaven.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Section 8

    Pull up a milk crate and set yourself up in this excellent outdoor bar.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    The Red Hummingbird

    An oldie but a goodie.

  • Arts & Entertainment
    Melbourne

    The Paperback Bookshop

    The quintessential bookshop where you can buy all the books you're looking for — as well as all the ones you weren't.

  • Arts & Entertainment
    Melbourne

    Melbournalia

    The most Melbourne thing to ever pop up in Melbourne.

  • Arts & Entertainment
    Melbourne

    Metropolis Bookshop

    A quirky book haven tucked inside Curtin House.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Izakaya Den

    A classic option for cool and classy Japanese.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Bowery to Williamsburg

    A taste of the USA with bagels, cronuts and some killer sandwiches.

  • Food & Drink
    North Melbourne

    5 Lire

    The quintessential modern Italian neighbourhood cafe North Melbourne never knew it needed.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Seven Seeds

    A pioneer of Melbourne coffee with their art down to a tee.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton North

    Cafe BU

    Sip a coffee above the suburbs atop the perfect Carlton North perch.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Wonderbao

    Located behind an RMIT building, you'll find this wonderful steamed bun street kitchen.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Ruyi

    Dumplings and wine done differently.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Epocha

    The epitome of European hospitality.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Ezard

    First-rate feasting with experience, elegance and eloquence.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Gingerboy

    Part opium den, part cosmopolitan outpost, this dark and sultry South-East Asian hawker-style den bursts for attention.

  • Food & Drink
    Docklands

    Long Shot

    This is one long shot you can bet on.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Double Happiness

    Bubble cup tea cocktails under the watchful eyes of Chairman Mao.

  • Food & Drink
    North Melbourne

    Auction Rooms

    Place a bid on one of Melbourne's best brunches.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Loop

    Throw your usual weekend for a loop and check out this bar’s exciting calendar.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Bomba

    A Spanish worker's bar where tapas, wines and vermouth are king.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    The Grain Store

    A little slice of comfort with damn fine food on Flinders Lane.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Stovetop

    Your morning coffee just got a little bit more niche with Stovetop.

  • Food & Drink
    Carlton

    Brunetti

    It's been 30-odd years, but Melbourne's Brunetti Caffe has moved home to Lygon Street.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Lily Blacks

    A glamorous 1920s speakeasy that exudes a little extra cheek.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Captain Melville

    See what a bushranger can teach you about savouring the moment.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Ponyfish Island

    A waterfront gem suited to folk in search of simple pleasures.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Captains of Industry

    Still one of the best hidden gems in Melbourne’s CBD.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    1806

    1806 is Melbourne's old world gem where cocktail is king.

  • Food & Drink
    Melbourne

    Mamasita

    There’s a fiesta in Melbourne and everyone wants to be invited.

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