Fitzroy is Melbourne’s oldest suburb, and consequently, one that many communities feel connected to. Walk any of the main streets – Smith, Gertrude, Brunswick or Johnston – and you’ll see a suburb struggling with its identity. Tattooed 20-somethings sail by on skateboards; downsizing Baby Boomers sip coffee on the footpaths; and newly arrived African migrants walk their kids to school. Many backpackers and interstate arrivals also find their first share houses here.

In its earliest days the area was working class. Most of the small terrace houses from that era remain, alongside pubs such as the Rose, Napier, Union Club, Rainbow and Labour in Vain. The backstreets often have a quaint feel. That is, until you stumble on a massive piece from one of the many graffiti artists who paint in the area.

Zoom out and skyline is dominated by four Housing Commission towers built in the 1960s, though upscale restaurants and designer boutiques have gradually surrounded them. Right now, there really is no better place to take the pulse of Melbourne’s dining and fashion scenes.

This is a relatively new development, but the area has had a strong bohemian population since at least the ’60s. Even with gentrification and escalating property prices, second-hand shops, live music, independent galleries, artist studios and community theatre shows remain a fixture.

Restaurants

Messer

Restaurant

Market-influenced European fare from the team behind Copper Pot in Seddon.

Shop Ramen Fitzroy

Restaurant

Delicious broth and handmade noodles in a cosy package.

Bontempo

Restaurant

From the team behind Fratellino Pizza in South Yarra.

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Wakenbo

Restaurant

Chef Kenji Ito is creating modern, inventive dishes using some unexpected ingredients at this hidden Japanese eatery.

Beatbox Kitchen Fitzroy

Restaurant

One of Melbourne’s most beloved burgers now has a permanent home close to the city.

Cafes

Lune Croissanterie

Cafe

Wait-in-line-worthy pastries, cruffins and twice-baked croissants are served fresh out of the oven in this converted Fitzroy warehouse.

Gabriel

Cafe

Daytime cocktails and an Old World feel are the hallmarks of this elegant cafe.

Archie’s All Day

Cafe

This all-day diner serves the goods any time you need.

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Cafe Louis

Cafe

Originally city stables, then an art gallery, this Moor Street site is a beautiful place for brunch.

Napier Quarter

Cafe

An all-day Parisian-style diner taking you right through from morning croissants to late-night cheese.

Grub Fitzroy

Cafe

An indoor fish pond and full glass roof make this one of Melbourne's quirkiest venues.

Bars

The Everleigh

Bar

This cocktail bar's eye for detail is second to none – it even has an in-house ice company to ensure every drink gets the perfect block.

Marion

Bar

A place for serious grape lovers.

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Builders Arms Hotel

Bar

Under the stewardship of star chef Andrew McConnell, this classic old boozer feels as vital as ever.

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Ends & Means

Bar

An easygoing cocktail bar from two former nightclub bartenders. With local brewers on tap and syrups brewed in-house.

Slowbeer Fitzroy

Bar

Choose from 1500 beers to take home, or drink in and match with a cheese plate

Naked For Satan Downstairs

Bar

A Spanish-style pintxos bar serving an array of vodka from an old distillery in Fitzroy.

Shops

Thread Den

Shop

A treasure trove of handcrafted vintage-style frocks, with a sewing classes held up stairs.

Smith & Deli

Shop

A vegan neighbourhood corner store and deli in Fitzroy.

Guild of Objects

Shop

A much-loved ceramics shop offering locally made wares and workshops.

Arnsdorf

Shop

This Melbourne fashion label's store has exposed brick, plenty of natural light and is filled with minimalist, carefully considered and sustainable pieces.

Kinki Gerlinki

Shop

A place you won’t forget, and not just because of its catchy name.

Great Dane

Shop

The place for mid-century Scandinavian design in Melbourne.