There’s so much going on in Brunswick East, it’s become a destination in its own right, particularly for those who fancy food.
Stomach grumbling? Got hunger pangs? Just want to check out some of Melbourne’s best casual restaurants? Brunswick East is definitely the place to be. Add some local shopping options and places you can enjoy a touch of nature and you can’t go wrong.
In a semi-industrial zone on Nicholson Street is definitely a favourite brekkie venue. Pope Joan is Matt Wilkinson’s cool-as cafe, with sunny outdoor area. Start with boiled eggs, soldiers and bacon bits, or buck the breakfast trend for the Cornish sandwich filled with roast chook, stuffing and jalapenos. (During summer, the venue opens at night, too, with drinks and cookouts.)
If you searching through stalls of vintage odds and ends, including fashion and furniture, head to Lost & Found Market (weekends only). It’s all undercover, too, so you never have to worry about the weather. Wandering south from there, stop at Padre Coffee for an energy booster, then head for The Boroughs. This cool design shop stocks all sorts of local treasures, including Otto & Spike socks, Cottage Industry pennants printed with the names of Melbourne suburbs, High Horse enamel jewellery and plenty more presents for yourself or a loved one. If you’re ready to create a green space in your own home, drop into Lygon St Nursery, which specialises in indoor plants, but also offers tools, books and advice.
If nature in the outdoors is more your style, go for a walk on the Merri Creek Trail. It’s surprisingly serene, given it’s so close to the city, and a small detour will take you to CERES. This community environment park has a nursery, grocery and cafe, all with a focus on sustainability. Courses and workshops in everything from chakra dance to urban farming are also offered regularly.
For entertainment of a different hue, head to Brunswick Bowls Club. It has a much younger demographic than you might imagine, with barefoot bowls available on most days, a bar where you can relax with friends and a drink (or play the pinnies) and live music and DJs on Sunday afternoons.
Another great venue for an afternoon session is Temple Brewing. There are seats outside and in, a great menu for snacking and the chance to taste the beers, like Anytime IPA and New World Order Stout, straight from the vats.
Foodies won’t be disappointed with the many offerings in Brunswick East. Rumi is an excellent option for Middle Eastern dishes, with plenty of options for vegetarians. It’s smart enough for a date, but casual enough, too, for a big family gathering. If your preference is for American-style dude food, head to B.East, where the burgers come with hot sauce and jalapenos (the Filthy) or bacon and a mac ’n’ cheese croquette (the Holy Cheezus!) and the fries are loaded. There’s beer, too, as well as entertainment, including bands and trivia. Bar Idda is the neighbourhood Italian, with a vibe a little like nonna’s dining room but amazingly authentic, seasonal dishes.
When you’re done it’s time for a night cap. Mr Wilkinson, named after Thomas Wilkinson, the founder of Brunswick, is a clean-lined space with candle light, booths and an excellent wine list. Another welcoming option is Atticus Finch, with its warm, old-world atmosphere. Slip out into the courtyard or into a seat in the window and peruse the carefully curated wine, beer and whisky lists.
Image (top): Simon Shiff