Punching above its weight when it comes to eating and drinking well, this little alley just keeps getting better. The wine bar that started it all in 1995 is still thriving, and many more foodie favourites have followed. Discover diverse cuisines, quality drinks and good times in and around Punch Lane with this insider’s guide.
Punch Lane Wine Bar Restaurant
One of Melbourne’s original cool bars, this laneway pioneer was an instant classic when it opened more than two decades ago. Set apart by excellent vino from near and far, they also serve smart-casual food, including cheeses made for lingering over. Settle into Punch Lane Wine Bar Restaurant’s cosy Euro styling for lunch, dinner, late-night supper or a friendly glass or three.
Juliet Melbourne is a sophisticated lady focused on fine wine and food, but her style is more retro-industrial. Think whitewashed brick walls, exposed pipes and 60s leather sofas. Then think about that menu of superior cheeses and small plates, including gooey raclette with prosciutto, cornichons, house-made mustard and sourdough. Strictly a late-week-evening venue, with live jazz on Thursdays.
Joseph Abboud, the chef and restaurateur behind Rumi and The Moor’s Head, added Bar Saracen to his portfolio this year. Named after the Arabs who fought the Christians during the Crusades, this restaurant-bar’s food favours Lebanon. Designed for sharing, the menu is dominated by 18 mezzes, including clever takes on borek and kofta. Try them with arak, an aniseed spirit similar to ouzo.
An old Chinatown warehouse was transformed into one of the hottest dining destinations in town when Longrain opened in 2005. Who could resist its smart modern-Thai fare, expansive cocktail menu inspired by South-East Asia, and chic contemporary fit-out? Years later, we’re still in love with its all-sensory sophistication.
Longrain now has a sassy sibling upstairs: Longsong. Her take on a night out is as much about drinks as food, which roams beyond Thailand for dinner and bar-snack inspiration. It could be a long night out too, as the kitchen is open until midnight seven days a week.
Named for a group of islands in the Malay archipelago, Sunda plays with the cuisines of Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. Add some native Australian ingredients and open flame, and you’ve got yourself a new foodie hot spot.
Shark Fin Inn
From family yum cha to business banquets and late-night Peking duck, this Melbourne institution has been a crowd-pleaser since 1980. Shark Fin Inn’s fine but affordable Cantonese cuisine is like a taste of Hong Kong, without the airfare.
The menu’s short, because Bad Boys is all about the burgers, two essential sides (crispy chips and onion rings) and some drinks. That’s all it takes to create lunchtime queues out the door, and content post-meal sighs. You’re in good company, because bad boy Walter White’s face is on the burger wrappers and burger-munching superheroes adorn the walls.
This tapas bar’s inspiration is equal parts Latin America, Spain and Melbourne – all places that love la buena vida. That’s the good life, amigo, so shimmy down to Vamos Melbourne and get into it. There are yummy plates to share, like tostadas and patatas bravas. Cocktails – a pisco sour or margarita perhaps? – and beer and wine from Barcelona to Buenos Aires. Music to get you moving, including live Brazilian jazz sessions on Fridays, and flamenco performance on Sundays. Salud!
Edwards And Co
Tucked among all these tasty destinations is Edwards And Co, a fashion-forward haven for beauty. Get your hair, make-up and nails sorted in this light, white warehouse conversion enlivened by cool murals and even cooler tunes. Sip on something nice while being pampered – this is Punch Lane after all.