In Melbourne, every nook and cranny is just waiting for a small business to make their mark. From coffee to art, cocktails to dumplings, life’s little pleasures await in these tiny boltholes. And if you’re looking for more, find them at Melbourne’s favourite hole-in-the-wall hotspots.
Style and substance
If you’re familiar with the @melbourneiloveyou Instagram account or Humans of Melbourne on Facebook, you know Chris Cincotta is an amazing photographer. Newsflash! He sells his gorgeous hometown photos from a former newsstand on the corner of Swanston and Bourke streets. Ask about his tours and forthcoming book!
You may have admired Journey by Nada Igual’s sporty-but-chic men’s casuals at shops around town, but have you visited the diminutive HQ? Pick up some stylish Nada-branded shorts or a breezy linen shirt, then stick around for a haircut.
Melbourne is famous for its pint-sized bars tucked down laneways off laneways, and one of the pioneers is Robot Sushi & Bar. The drink list and bar snacks also look to the Land of the Rising Sun, so settle in and escape to Tokyo.
Crossley Street was called Romeo Lane in the 19th century, when this pocket of the CBD was Melbourne’s red-light district. Today, behind one of the alleyway’s inconspicuous doors, is a bar named after that romantic old moniker. A cosy heritage space of whitewashed walls, sombre wood and old-school cocktails, Romeo Lane is a hidey-hole far removed from modernity’s mayhem.
ShanDong MaMa Dumplings, a go-to spot for Melbourne’s favourite little parcels of deliciousness, obviously likes to think small. The compact original seems like a banqueting hall compared to ShanDong MaMa Mini in Centre Place. Squeeze inside and fill up on some of the city’s best dumplings and a craft beer.
Follow the irresistible scent of pizza to the back of Heartbreaker Bar, and discover the teeny pick-up hatch of Connie’s Pizza. Named in honour of the owner’s nonna, this literal hole in the wall proves that less is more. There are only three kinds of New York-style pizzas on offer, whole or by the slice, but they’re hugely satisfying.
Another little window onto deliciousness is Union Kiosk (formerly Local Birds), on The Causeway. They’ve got your hot-drink cravings covered, right down to milk alternatives such as soy, almond and coconut. The tiny kitchen’s tasty tucker – think soup and jaffles – also accommodates your gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian needs.
For coffee on the go, Stand Up Cafe makes perfect sense. Options are streamlined, but every cup is made from quality Seven Seeds beans, and there are a few petite munchies too. While you’re there, pick up a handmade moisturising and exfoliating body scrub made from coffee grounds. There’s no room for waste here.