The suburb of Windsor has stepped out of the shadows in recent years. Scratch under the grungy surface and uncover one of Melbourne’s best foodie scenes.
Windsor has a certain charm that is hard to come by across Melbourne. Perhaps shared with Fitzroy North on the other side of the river and Seddon in the west, it’s a confidence that — despite its rough’n’tumble past — it has turned a corner to respectability and class. No matter how you choose to make your way to Windsor (trains, trams and buses all pass through, as do a few arterial roads), the pint-sized suburb oozes urban sophistication with a twist. It’s as though Windsor was ready-made for millennials who, flock to this part of Chapel Street to fill their bellies and nourish their souls.
As day turns to dusk, tuck into a meal at one of the highlights of Windsor’s food scene, Mr Miyagi. Japanese delicacies and share plates are the order of the day, so try a salmon nori taco or shiitake dumpling, kingfish ceviche or, umm, something called Godzilla Beans. Wash it down with a cocktail and you’ll be starting your night off on the right foot.
A recent addition to the Windsor bar scene is Mr Miyagi’s new sister restaurant, Yuki’s Snack Bar, offering bite-sized version of Miyagi’s food menu and a supercharged version of its cocktail list. Sip your way through the night as you peer out onto Artist’s Lane, a back alley brimming with neon street art sure to inspire your next Instagram story.
Before you call it a night, you simply must have a nightcap at the Chapel Street institution, Borsch, Vodka and Tears. With ten pages of vodka to choose from, some devilishly dangerous absinthes and more pierogis than you could poke a stick at, embrace your inner Eastern European and party on. Na zdrowie!
When you’re looking a caffeine hit, return to Chapel Street and take your pick from a bounty of cafes. Yellow Bird has been in the business for more than a decade and has honed its craft to ensure you’re well-looked after, but it’s hard to beat the aesthetic appeal of Journeyman. This cafe is a staple of the area, serving up seasonal delights and the perennial favourite, avocado hummus toast with candied bacon.
If you’re chasing an alternative to the bright lights of Chapel Street, stroll a block west to the strip known as Little Windsor on Punt. Chow down on takeaway Indian from Café Darjeeling accompanied by a bottle of something special from one of Melbourne’s most popular independent bottle shops, Blackhearts & Sparrows. Or settle in for a session with the locals at The Windsor Alehouse, home to a huge range of local and international craft beers.
Of course, if you’re in the area and looking for some child-friendly fun, spend an hour or so at some of the best parks in Windsor — Gladstone Gardens on Upton Road, Harry Gregory Reserve or Chris Gahan Reserve (the latter of which is also a pooch-friendly spot too).