There are so many cafes, restaurants and bars in Melbourne that it's easy to be overwhelmed with choice. You put yourself under so much pressure to impress your friends, and yourself, by always choosing the best coffee, the best place for drinks, or the most decadent and delicious fancy dinner in the area. We've decided that we're going to make it extremely easy for you to feel like a local, with the first of our neighbourhood guides we're producing with Adina Apartments. Have a read of our picks for St Kilda, and the next time you're staying in the area consult this list for a reliable, local option for a coffee. We promise that none of these options will disappoint.
BEST PLACE FOR A COFFEE
Hannah serves Proud Mary Coffee, which is juicy and full of flavour — just as it should be. The cafe prides itself on a well-considered approach to coffee, food and interior design. Vinyl records provide the soundtrack, while ferns pepper the interior. The all day brunch features porridge with date jam and hazelnuts ($11) and coconut pancakes with pink peppered berries and vanilla mascarpone ($16.50), while lunch is a mouth-watering selection including the likes of smoked trout, cavolo nero, witlof, radicchio, poached egg and samphire salsa ($19) and octopus salad with silverbeet, watercress, purple congos, capers and marjoram salmoriglio ($18.50).
BEST PLACE TO GRAB BREAKFAST
St Kilda is home to Melbourne's most popular and Instagrammable vegan eatery, which is fuelled by matcha. The plant-based café comes from the same people that brought you (and basically every cafe in Australia) Matcha Maiden. Dubbed Matcha Mylkbar, the cafe serves the regulars like smashed avocado with heirloom tomatoes and corn fritters, but then there's the coconut bacon and the matcha pancakes with dark chocolate sorbet. There are also the famous mushroom lattes, and beetroot lattes.
BEST SPOT FOR FISH & CHIPS
A kickass fish and chippery is located right off the St Kilda Beach boardwalk. Paper Fish offers sustainable, healthy(ish) eat-in and takeaway options all throughout summer. Open noon until late seven days a week, now until the end of daylight savings, Paper Fish will serve up sustainable seafood and fresh quality produce in environmentally friendly packaging. Menu items include flathead, blue grenadier, salmon or gummy served grilled or tempura fried, as well as fritto misto (small fried bits of seafood), sweet potato cakes and crinkle-cut chips in a cone.
BEST PLACE TO GRAB A BEER
Freddie Wimpoles features 13 taps pouring a rotating lineup of local and international craft brews, as well as additional beers by the bottle and can. They also have a number of wines, plus more than 180 premium spirits and a selection of classic cocktails. The food is inspired by corner delis in NYC – think hot dogs, beef jerky, pickled vegetables and slow-cooked meat subs.
BEST PLACE FOR A CHEESEBOARD
Milk the Cow
You don't just go to Milk the Cow for fresh mozzarella and just-made ricotta — you go for the selection of over 150 cheeses. There is cheese that's been imported from France, Ireland and Norway as well as the Yarra Valley; cheese that's been washed in chai, paprika and cognac; aged in caves and sat ripening out the back until just the right time to eat. There's all sorts of soft, hard and in-between cheese — all curated on a rotating basis by head cheesemonger Laura Lown. This, and Milk the Cow's Carlton location, is the best place for cheese in all of Melbourne, not just St Kilda.
BEST ROOFTOP BAR
St Kilda Sea Baths may not be Melbourne's Mecca of fine dining, but in a city convinced they are starved of sun, you can rarely beat a seat at a beachfront venue once the weather warms up. The same could be said about Captain Baxter. Nestled in with Republica at the baths, its large upstairs dining room and looming facade is the perfect place for a beer, a cocktail and a bowl of hand-cut fries.
BEST WEEKEND FOOD MARKET
Hank Marvin Market
Over 40 street food vendors set up shop at Hank Marvin Market, a street food market on every Saturday at Alma Park in St Kilda East, transforming it into a hub of fresh produce, food trucks and street food stalls. Old favourites Overdosa, Hammer & Tong, Happy Camper Pizza and the Little Mushroom Co. are generally there, along with artisan doughnuts from Cobb Lane Bakery and traditional wood-fired bagels from Shtetl Bagels.
BEST SPOT FOR A FANCY DINNER
Cafe Di Stasio
The upper echelons of elegance, service and rich Italian food. If we're talking about institutions, Cafe di Stasio is right at the top of the list. After 26 years on Fitzroy Street, the restaurant and bar still exudes elegance, sophisticated service and decadent Italian food. Here the lunches are long, the wine is expensive and the atmosphere is right on point. There's a place for old-school, classy dining and this is it.
BEST SPOT TO PACK A PICNIC
For the discerning picnicker with a preference for a cool sea breeze, St Kilda's Catani Gardens is an idyllic fusion between urban and ocean. One of the only places in Melbourne where it is acceptable to find a palm tree lined avenue, six hectares of brilliantly landscaped gardens hugging both the city and the sea is located right on the St Kilda foreshore. While not as secluded as other options, the boardwalk setting provides the perfect vantage point of ample amounts of people watching, as well as immediate access to a host of fancy fish and chips shops. Extra points will be given for those who rollerblade with basket in hand to picnic point of choice.
Book yourself in at an Adina Apartment Hotel and have a St Kilda staycation — it's the easiest way to tick all these off.