Finding all of Melbourne’s hidden bars can be challenging. Take on this refresher course in all that’s underground, secretive and awesome across the city’s bar scene.
What’s more hidden than a bar behind a bar in a laneway? Even if it is the most popular laneway in Melbourne, Bar Tini in Hosier Lane is conveniently hidden in the shadow of its sister restaurant MoVida. Based on a classic Spanish bodega, sneak in on a week night to beat the crowds and enjoy a vino or two.
A pioneer of Melbourne’s laneway bar scene, Meyers Place was sadly farewelled in 2017 when the landlord said last drinks. The legend is back, now about 200 metres from its original location, in a narrow ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ spot on Crossley Street. Most of the distinctive fit-out was salvaged, including that massive concrete bar. Cheers!
If you’ve ever been in the garden shed holding your hammer as if you were Thor, then Mjolner may just be the restaurant you’ve been waiting for. Trek down Hardware Street to find the Thor inspired restaurant, where the decadence of pasture fed meats dances with the theatre of marrow bone whisky luges. Oh, and you even pick your own Viking knife to dine with. Cool.
Sustainable and surprising, Bar Ampere is a Russell Place icon with a hidden secret. Once you get over the thrill of their compostible eco straws, check out the ‘Swamp Room’. Formerly reserved for private events, this mysterious back room – complete with fairy lights, and a bar made from a vintage piano – is revealed to all for late-week chillin’.
A basement bar serving banoffee pie cocktails? It might sound like a dream, but it’s real, it’s spectacular, and it’s called Bar Clara. Hidden underneath Chinatown, this brand new watering hole has an expertly curated drinks list that pairs perfectly with the refined but delicious share plate menu. Get a cheese platter to nibble or pick your poisson with smoked mackerel and bonito cured cucumber.
An extensive drinks list extends to all corners of Japan at Hihou. Hot shochu, sake, plum wine, cocktails and Japanese beer and whiskey abounds. An unmistakably Japanese-inspired bar with touches of concrete and pale wood, a doorbell only entry gives it that cosy neighbourhood feel.
Named after the Arabs who fought the Christians during the Crusades, Punch Lane’s Bar Saracen favours the flavours of 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 that’s similar to ouzo.
The owners of the cult Meyers Lane upstairs pasta bar, the Italian Waiters Club, opened Bar Carlo on the former site of the old Meyers Place bar. This Northern Italian-style bar and eatery is open from 7am weekdays for early birds seeking a caffeine fix and a pastry or panini. Night owls are directed towards the exclusively stocked Leone aperitivo (like an Aperol or Campari), Venetian cicchetti-style snacks and all-Italian wine list.
Want more? Part one of our hidden bars blog is hiding in plain sight right here.