Sydney Road runs through the heart of this exciting and eclectic borough, home to great food, interesting people and fantastic music.
If you believe the hype, Brunswick was ground zero for the hipster, that inner-city soul with geek glasses, flannelette shirt, beard (men only, of course), fixie bike and caffeine fixation. And that’s not entirely surprising. Brunswick has always moved to the beat of its own drum, popularising craft beers, Sunday afternoon sessions accompanied by live music and vintage shopping before most other parts of Melbourne.
Start any day here with a visit to Code Black Coffee. Beans, both single origin and signature blends, are roasted in house, and the breakfast and lunch dishes are more exciting than your average cafe offering. The crispy duck leg, potato and spring onion waffle sandwich, served with maple syrup and a fried egg, is a popular choice.
There’s nothing quite like a stroll along Sydney Road to get a good feel for the vibe of the suburb. There’s plenty to check out along here. Stop by Dejour Jeans to buy perfectly fitting denim. It’s not fancy, but once you’ve chosen a pair of the Australian-made jeans, a staff member will alter them to fit you exactly. All for just $60 a pair. There are plenty of other independent fashion options, including local designs from Finki and vintage-inspired looks at Vicious Venus. If you can’t resist a preloved bargain, you might want to spend some time in the huge Savers.
Stock your pantry with a huge range of delicious food at Mediterranean Wholesalers. It started as a small delicatessen in 1961 and is now Australia’s largest continental food store. Wander among the aisles of pickled vegetables, olive oils, vinegars and so much more, then choose prosciutto and cheese, pick up an Italian liqueur or have an espresso in the coffee bar.
Worked up an appetite? Order shanklish pie, filled with cheese, tomato and herbs, and garlic chicken pizza at A1 Bakery. This rustic, cosy spot specialises in the best of Lebanese food.
If you’re planning your big day, this end of Sydney Road is also home to more than a hundred bridal stores. There are couture looks at Mariana Hardwick, beautiful gowns for the entire wedding party at Duchess Boutique, formal wear for children at Evie & John’s and designer bomboniere at Casa di Perla.
After dark, the choices continue. Drop by cosy Host Dining for a dinner prepared from what’s good at the market on the day. The menu is seasonal and generous — it could include dishes like raw sea bream, rainbow chard, capers and sesame or grain-fed rump cap with salted purple carrot, shiitake and chicory — and the wine list celebrates small producers.
If you’re into live music, you’ve come to the right place. Bands play nightly at pubs like The Retreat and Penny Black, and specialist venues like Howler and Spotted Mallard. A quieter drink can be found at Amelia Shaw, the hidden cocktail bar upstairs at the Retreat (open Friday and Saturday nights), and Brunswick Mess Hall. This airy beer hall serves up tasty cocktails, craft beers and excellent pan-Asian food, either for a full meal or a late-night snack.