With an accordion player serenading morning commuters outside Parliament Station, the city's endlessly unpredictable weather and a treasure trove of tucked away laneway gems, Melbourne really does have a surprise around every corner.
Stumbling upon a hidden laneway in the labyrinth that is Melbourne’s CBD, is as synonymous with the city as train delays whenever extreme weather hits, coffee snobbery, great eateries and the luxury boutiques of Collins Street.
We’re going to explore the best aspects of Melbourne in five of our favourite laneways that offer up foodie delights, out of the way bars, creative street art, boutique shopping and great live music.
EAT at Centre Place
With over a dozen of what I like to call ‘roller door in the wall eateries’, Centre Place will be sure to have a cuisine to get your mouth watering. Perfect for a miserable chilly Melbourne day, sample a hearty steaming hot soup with crispy bread for dipping at The Soup Place.
A morning tea favourite, indulge in sweet and savoury crepes at Aix Café Creperie Salon. Try the lamb fillet or field mushroom savoury crepes for something different. For all the sweet tooths out there white chocolate and raspberry crepes are their specialty.
Always packed at lunchtime, Shandong Mama Mini serves up delectable handmade Chinese dumplings (the pan fried ones are a highlight!). After lunch you can easily walk through The Block Arcade and Royal Arcade to the shopping holy grail that is Bourke Street Mall.
If you’re in the vicinity around dinner time head upstairs (above Jungle Juice) to Hell’s Kitchen for delectable American bar food. Think pulled pork rolls, meatball subs and slices of apple pie. Wash that down with a classic cocktail, beer or a house-infused vodka.
More laneways famous for their top notch eateries- Hardware Lane, Flinders Lane, George Parade, The Block Place, The Causeway and Tattersalls Lane.
DRINK at Meyers Place
Located off the top end of Bourke Street, by day this unassuming laneway doesn’t look like much, but by night Meyers Place transforms into a buzzing hive for party and bar goers. For the first stop drop in at the simple no frills Meyers Place Bar to graze over a cheese and kabana platter and a $5 glass (or two!) of house wine.
Next wet your whistle at Loop Bar, which has a restaurant and rooftop bear garden with good city views. The versatile Loop Project Space and Bar below plays host to film screenings, audio visual performances, DJ events and exhibitions.
Lastly head to the Art Deco inspired Lily Blacks cocktail bar. Open until 3am nightly, this is the perfect spot for a late night tipple with a huge range of creative cocktails, cognac, scotch and more liqueurs on offer.
Extra laneways and bars to stop off on a Melbourne bar crawl- Bank Place and Mitre Lane, The Croft Institute at Croft Alley, Sister Bella and Martha’s Cottage on Sniders Lane, Bar Americano on Presgrave Place, Goldie Place, and DuNord and Murmur on Warburton Lane.
LOOK at Union Lane
Without a doubt Melbourne is home to some of the world’s best street art. Stretching from Bourke Street to Little Collins in Melbourne’s retail hub is the always colourful Union Lane. This laneway may not be as well known as some other famous Melbourne street art strips, but it packs a powerful punch and is definitely worth a look for street art enthusiasts. Almost every inch of the laneway’s 550 square metres of walls are covered in vibrant graffiti murals, stencils and tagging.
Other arty laneways worth a look- Hosier Lane/ Rutledge Lane, Croft Alley, Guildford Lane, Cocker Alley, Jane Bell Lane, Spark Lane, Westwood Place.
SHOP at Manchester Lane
Manchester Lane is home to every Melbourne, dare I say hipster, man’s shopping paradise.
The Sure Store has the latest men’s street wear, sneakers, backpacks, caps, jackets and much more. Manchester Lane is also home to OPSM eyewear, Sires Suits, Jack London, Claude Maus and Nique, everything a style conscious professional Melbourne man needs. It’s also just a stones throw from Collins Street’s bustling barbers, Rhodes and Beckett and Henry Bucks.
Visit Design A Space retail gallery to support over 100 independent local Australian fashion designers, with men’s, women’s and children’s fashion and accessories available.
*A word of caution when visiting Manchester Lane, cars frequently use the laneway to access an adjacent hotel car park so be especially careful when stepping out into the laneway from stores.
Where else to splurge on boutique fashion- Flinders Lane, Somerset Place and Rankins Lane.
LISTEN at AC/DC Lane
As the name suggests, AC/DC Lane is the place to be for rock music lovers of Melbourne. It doesn’t get much more rock n’ roll than the music institution that is Cherry Bar. Cherry Bar hosts both free and ticketed live music gigs showcasing local and international talent. After the live music wraps DJs keep the place pumping until the wee hours of the morning (that's 5am most nights!).
If you're up for a big night, conveniently there are a number of great eateries within stumbling distance of Cherry Bar, with Latin American restaurant Pastuso at the end of the lane and Tonka contemporary Indian around the corner in Duckboard Place, just to name a couple.
More spots for to catch great live music- Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Bennetts Lane, The Paris Cat Jazz Club at Goldie Place and Ding Dong Lounge on Market Lane.
Melbourne is full of hidden nooks and fascinating laneway street art, stores, restaurants, bars, cafes and music venues. Do you have any little known secret laneway hideaways of your own? Please share them in the comments section below.
Happy house hunting!
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