Feeling hangry or in need of a winter carb fix? A hearty pub meal is in order. Here’s where to go for unpretentious and substantial dishes.
Captain Melville offers a next level pub experience. Housed within Melbourne’s oldest pub, originally Mac’s Hotel built in 1853, the fit-out was a collaboration between Breathe Architects and the National Trust. Think Bushranger heritage meets modern light and airy.
Food-wise, ingredients are sourced from ethical and sustainable Victorian farms. So the burgers, steak sandwiches, parmas, fish and chips, nachos and more are lip-smackingly delicious. If you settle in for a session, the upstairs bar Loch & Key is open until dawn and serves $8 toasties all night long.
Recently relaunched with a chic new interior, Hardimans combines the best bits of modern and classic pub dining. Find chicken parmas and beer battered fish and chips right next to fish tacos, pretzel crumbed burnt honey chorizo and tamarind lamb ribs. Their extensive drinks list will keep you well hydrated too, with everything from standard whites and reds to cognac, cocktails and dessert wines.
Prince Alfred Rooftop and Bar
A Carlton institution, the Prince Alfred is a corner pub opposite Melbourne University, known as PAs to generations of students. Even if you’ve graduated, you can still enjoy the benefits of happy hour from 4pm to 6pm Monday to Friday, then hang around for $12 espresso martinis from 8pm to 10pm. They’ve also got all-day $17 Parma Tuesdays and $18 Steak Thursdays. Saturday brunch challenge? Head to the rooftop for $49 all-you-can-eat pancakes with mimosas, Aperol Spritz and Hoegaardens.
At the top of Bourke Street you’ll find The Imperial. Another 1850s original, this pub is the place to go to watch major sporting events, with atmosphere to spare. It also has spectacular rooftop views (heated in winter), and a solid menu of American-style thin-based pizzas, burgers, surprisingly excellent salad offerings – their poke bowls are sensational – and vegan options like broccoli pesto pasta with vegan fettuccine.
The Duke of Wellington
Another Melbourne corner pub classic from the 1850s, The Duke is sparkling from a recent renovation. Dine like a king at The Duke all day every day with their delicious $25 wine and steak special, or opt for petite $20 parma and pot deal from 12pm to 3pm. Also on offer is the Larmagiana – chicken schnitzel topped with ham, cheese, Napoli and Lasagne, served with chips and salad. With 22 beers on tap, over 50 bottled beers and a comprehensive wine list, your diet can wait until Monday.
PJ O’Briens Irish Pub and Sidebar
Enjoy the craic at PJ O’Briens on Southbank, an authentic Irish pub where there’s live music every night. You’re in the right place for a Guinness on tap and a menu stocked with hearty Irish meals, from a beef and Guinness pie to Irish lamb stew, mussel pot or Irish pork sausage with mash and onion jam. Winter whisky tasting events happen in July and August, while in the Sidebar, styled in a more low key vibe, oysters are served natural, Kilpatrick or Kilkenny.
The Crafty Squire
A reliable option on Russell Street, The Crafty Squire specialises in beers, stocking the entire James Squire range and brewing their own handcrafted ales – you can even take a tour of their onsite microbrewery. Feeling adventurous? Native Australian dishes are the difference here. Try their southern fried crocodile sliders or grilled kangaroo filled served with plum puree.
A quintessential casual and relaxed Aussie pub, The Leveson in North Melbourne has all the bases covered. With a beer garden outside and an open fire inside, the menu ticks all the boxes from steak and burgers to pizza and fish and chips. Tuesday is Parma Day, so don’t miss out on their famed house parmas. They have acoustic sessions on Sundays, and DJs on Friday and Saturday nights.
At the western end of Flinders Street is a grand old, three-storey dame of a pub, the Waterside Hotel. There are five distinct spaces, from the old-style public bar on ground level to a champagne and cocktail lounge on level one and sassy rooftop bar. Happy hour is 5pm to 7pm weekdays, and 5pm to 10pm Saturday. Make this your next venue for a catch up with old mates. Drop by for burger night on Tuesdays, where $18 will get you a big juicy burger, a pot of beer and some super crispy chips.
A historic Carlton pub now boasting serious gastropub credentials, The Lincoln serves the highest quality regional, sustainable and seasonal produce, with free-range bacon cured inhouse, house made bread, mustard and pickles. Let the chef feed you with The Full Lincoln, offering a choice of 8 dishes for $75 per person or The Half Lincoln at 5 dishes for $55 per person. Enjoy $8 pints and $15 jugs of select beers and ciders before 6pm every day, and 2 for $20 margaritas every Monday.
The Last Jar
A stone’s throw from the Queen Victoria Market is The Last Jar. An authentic Irish pub offering traditional farmhouse cooking with generous portions and seasonal ingredients, they churn the butter, make the bread, smoke and cure the fish and meats. Try the beef and Guinness pie or tuck into bacon loaded potato skins served with melted cheese. There are also veggie options like falafel salad with roast veggies and sesame dressing. Check out the cheap lunch menu with every item under $20 from 12pm to 3pm.
Green Man’s Arms
If your vegetarian friends have had enough of surf and turf menus, Green Man’s Arms in Carlton is your saviour. Here, it’s all-vegetarian or vegan cuisine with a strong Israeli influence. You’ll find housemade falafel with scorched avocado, eggplant parmagianas and steamy bowls of ramen. Don’t miss vegan desserts like halva ice cream and mandarin sorbet with dark chocolate mousse. Craft beers are on tap and so is kombucha.