How do we define a gastropub? It needs a front bar, for one. Otherwise it's just a restaurant in an old pub.

The next bit is harder: separating the pubs with merely “good” food and ambience from the ones that really take it to the next level. Interiors, service and wine lists are three important factors, but often, it's as simple as being brave enough to take parmas off the menu.

Related pages:
Best Restaurants in Melbourne
Best Wine Bars in Melbourne

Builders Arms Hotel

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

211 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

The Railway Hotel

Head upstairs to The Highline and taste produce from the owner's family farm.

29 Chapel Street, Windsor

L'Hôtel Gitan

Gallic style, courtesy of Jacques Reymond and his family.

32 Commercial Road, Prahran

Fitzroy Town Hall Hotel

Put yourself in the hands of Sean Donovan and a red-gum wood-fired barbeque.

166 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

Lamaro’s Hotel

The original tiled facade belies the plush interior, where veteran chef Geoff Lindsay and partner Paul Dimattina run the show.

273-279 Cecil Street, South Melbourne

Hotel Lincoln

For left-of-centre food and drink.

91 Cardigan street, Carlton