Best bar openings in Melbourne in 2021

What makes a bar truly exceptional? Is it a question of energy in the room, amplified after your first drink? The depth and breadth of the wine list? The service? Snacks?

On either side of the blockages, Melbourne has welcomed an impressive number of newcomers in 2021 who effortlessly strike a balance between each of these elements.

Alphabetically, here are the 10 that grabbed our attention the most this year – from an alley pub where you can easily lose an afternoon, to vibrant neighborhood wine bars and long-awaited brasseries.


We will start with fantasy. At this new Armadale wine bar, chef Clinton McIver – from the elegantly low-key Amaru – makes up fancy, fun snacks without the cost of tasting (and it’s just across the road). Auterra is a warmly lit bolt-hole where no snack goes over $ 16, and most can be eaten without cutlery. So, hold up a crab crab or an aged Eclair de Comte in one hand and a splash-worthy glass of champagne in the other. In the words of Sofia Levin: “If you’ve already left a fine dining experience with most snacks, Auterra is the wine bar for you. ”

baby snakes

A ridiculously colorful stairwell – with hot pink walls, purple stairs, and a lime green railing – leads to this waterhole on the west side. It’s by Mark Nelson – co-founder of The Moon and Milton Wine Shop – whose fun, no-fuss approach to wine is what he calls “aggressively not pretentious.” It’s a cool, laid back place where, of course, the wine is delicious and the selection is very careful, but showing the punters a good time is the top priority. Upstairs, there is a warm and worn atmosphere; huge windows let in natural light among wooden furniture, lots of greenery and a spinning disco ball. You’ll want to hang around until the early hours of the morning.

Mixing of acts

After a five-year wait, Stonnington’s first brewery is here: the long-awaited Deeds Taproom in Glen Iris. Patrick Alé and his business partner Dave Milstein have been brewing together under the Deeds name since 2012, initially using equipment from other breweries. But their dedicated space finally opened in winter, just before the lockdown began. It’s cavernous, dramatically lit, and spans two levels – and it’s unlike anything else in the area. Plus, it’s right next to the train station, for easy access. He arrived with 22 beers on tap (including hazy pale ales, a lamington beer, and a vanilla porter), and even the menu puts the beers to the test – from iced Wagyu to beer to salted salmon and hops. .

Goldy’s Tavern

What makes this all-day Gold Street pub one of the best newcomers in town is the fact that it doesn’t look new at all. We have the impression that it has always existed. Rebecca Feingold’s charming refurbishment of the Leinster Arms Hotel (frequented by famous Melbourne gang figure, Mark “Chopper” Read in the 70s) pays homage to its 150-year history. There’s a sort of old-fashioned warmth – with lots of dark woodwork and soft furnishings throughout, plus a cozy dining area, kitsch living room seating for lounging, and a pool table. You can also park in the sunny, plant-filled atrium or grab a seat up front, then order the riff on the Chiko Roll and a Bloody Oath (aka Mary).

Gray and gray

From Boris Portnoy, owner of stellar All Are Welcome bakery in Melbourne, and winemaker Mitch Sokolin, Gray and Gray is a new Northcote wine bar and restaurant in a long-standing former law firm. The people of Northcote are probably familiar with the “Gray & Gray Barristers & Solicitors” sign, but behind that gold leaf lettering and those original vertical shades now sits a cozy 28-seater spot doing things differently – with wines left and Russian. and Georgian dishes. The chalked wine list might feature drops from Georgia, Spain, France or Italy – and Sokolin will be able to tell you the story of each grape and winemaker. Food-wise, you might get breads with “various fats,” beet-colored dill pickles, or a 10-layer honey cake.

Hope Street Radio

Getting a reservation at Hope St is no easy task. Since opening earlier this year, the glowing wine (and pasta) bar at Collingwood Yards – a gigantic new arts district and community center in a former schoolhouse – has grown in popularity. This is due to several factors: the curvy, bright yellow layout; the roaring sound system, custom made by Hot Wax; and plenty of juicy lo-fi wines. And, of course, the Mediterranean menu success after success from chef Ellie Bouhadana. Across the courtyard is the new Runner Up rooftop bar, where you want to be before dinner, for the golden hour.

Public wine store

In this small but mighty wine bar in Fitzroy North, let yourself be nourished by one of the country’s most exciting young chefs: Ali Currey-Voumard, formerly of Tassie’s Agrarian Kitchen. It’s a hit for the St Georges Road spot. What started as a pop-up bottle shop – by Melbourne wine greats name Campbell Burton and partner Charlotte Ryan – is now a full-fledged bar and restaurant – with an entirely organic wine philosophy and a simple but yet menu. very sharp. It’s with a French flair and built mainly around seafood; you might find egg mayonnaise (a simple French dish made with hard-boiled eggs and mayonnaise), grilled mussels with broad beans and celery, or a shrimp and tarragon quiche. On the wine side, the idea is for you to pick a bottle from the expansive wine wall and have Burton collect its temperature-controlled counterpart upstairs, ensuring a perfect drink every time.

Shabooh Shoobah

The idea that a place as gentrified and close to the city as Brunswick West might lack a good local bar seems absurd. And yet, that was the case until the arrival of Shabooh Shoobah in October, courtesy of Hootan Heydari Café (of Wide Open Road fame), his novelist partner Emily Bitto, and chef Sam Steck. This isn’t a restaurant masquerading as a wine bar – you can’t reserve, and the menu is strictly focused on Mediterranean-style snacks, through olives, anchovies on brown butter cookies and ‘nduja (spicy spreadable salami) toast cut into thin fingers for easy eating. The 60 Second Read Wine List includes plenty of ‘old man’ options and a ‘hipster natural wine drinker’ option to keep everyone happy. Fully booked by 5 p.m. almost every opening day, Shabooh Shoobah has already proven just how necessary it is.


Stomping Ground has reached the trifecta. Its third location – in a sprawling former cigarette factory in Moorabbin – is a noisy brewery and brewery of 460 people, loosely modeled on the original Gipps Street location. It is the jewel in the crown of the new Morris Moor district. The main brewery is an indoor-outdoor conversion – an old alleyway between two buildings has been closed – but there are retractable roof sections, so the space can be opened up. Find over 25 taps serving up easy-to-drink beers available, plus site exclusives. On the menu: cheese pretzels, breaded parmesan schnitties and steaks with boozy bacon jam.

Wax flower

“The Brunswick Waxflower combines music, food and wine in a way Melbourne has never seen,” wrote Large format sheetNick Connellan’s director of publications in March. Blending elements of Melbourne cafes, European wine bars, and audiophile “listening bars” found in Tokyo, this Lygon Street spot brings something totally new to the table. Stop for a mostly European menu that fluctuates with the seasons (that could mean tapioca dumplings or meat kebabs) and a natural wine list on point, with a soundtrack by some of the city’s top DJs. . One wall is stacked with thousands of records belonging to Jimmy Pham (name of DJ Walter Majik), one of the four founders of Waxflower and the man in charge of the music program, which really runs the gamut.

Honorable mentions

What’s old is new again this year, with a bunch of Melbourne pubs being reborn and reinvented. The Reverence Hotel in Footscray became the Westwood Hotel, the Penny Black in Brunswick became Penny’s, the Robbie Burns became the Collingwood Hotel, and the Art Deco Orrong Hotel in Armadale reopened after two years.

Meanwhile, one of the best diners in town, Navi, has added a walk-in cocktail bar with snacks starting at $ 5. And the pioneering Brunswick Aces bar opened with all the ingredients of any conventional cocktail bar – bar one: there’s no alcohol at all. It is billed as “Australia’s first non-alcoholic permanent bar”.

People’s Choice

Two new bars really made you click this year. One was Prahran’s handsome Bar Bianco, in a curvy white building on Malvern Road; the other was Bouvardia, one of the nicest new cocktail bars in the CBD, up a low-key staircase on Bourke Street.

Additional reporting by Sofia Levin, Evan Jones, Scott Renton, Chynna Santos, Quincy Malesovas and Nick Connellan.

Here are our lists of Melbourne’s best restaurant and cafe openings in 2021.

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