There are many precincts heralded as Melbourne's 'best', but Brunswick Street surely ranks somewhere at the top. Situated in Melbourne's first suburb — Fitzroy — Brunswick Street offers up a dazzling assembly of clothing shops, eclectic eateries, pubs, bookstores, boutiques, jewellers and galleries. The parade of locals won't disappoint, either.
Brunswick Street has no shortage of breakfast 'institutions': Marios (owned by two Marios, so there's no apostrophe. I checked.) claims the great honour of being the street’s first cafe to serve all-day breakfast — you'd be hard-pressed to find better poached eggs and coffee, anywhere. The locals are happy (sort of) to queue for the delectable Russian-inspired breakfasts at Babka — try the blintzes — and lively Joe's Garage is always packed.
Browse upstairs at Brunswick Street Bookstore, devoted to art and design titles, or at notorious Polyester Books, the scene of several Vice Squad raids. Dig through their vast collection of underground and rather outrageous stock, and be warned, they don’t call themselves the ‘World’s Freakiest Bookstore’ for nothing.
The mighty Fitzroy Football Club lives on in the VAFA, and can be found most weekends battling it out at Brunswick Street Oval. Partake of the sausage sizzle and get vocal in the outer. (C’arn the Roy Boys!)
For lunch, swing by the meat-free Vegie Bar for an organic, vegan meal, or try a toasted wrap at Alimentari (the Italian meatball version is ridiculously good). At $4, the pizzas at Bimbo Deluxe (formerly the Punters Club) can’t be beaten for value.
Follow the scent of rose and mandarin, and you’ll hit Klein's Perfumery: just try and escape without buying a stick of Bert’s Bees Honey Lip Balm or a hand-made soap. Wander down to vintage stores Hunter Gatherer and Out of the Closet and rifle through pre-loved dresses, cowboy boots and waist coats. Further south, check out Zetta Florence. What began as a specialist archivist for museums now flourishes as a cult stationery store, stocking coveted paper and journals.
At this point, a second caffeine-hit is in order. Try a strong brew at Atomica or Jasper Coffee, where you can also stock up on coffee beans. And as the saying goes, in Fitzroy, there’s no such thing as ‘too strong’ coffee, only weak people.
For a frothy ale, try the boisterous Little Creatures Dining Hall, which also serves fine food. Free live music, and more ale, can be found at the Labour in Vain on Sundays. And if you overindulge on the frothies, you can always stop by Souvlaki King on the way home.
If all this isn’t enough, browse whimsical little things at Melbourne’s best-loved crafty store, Meet Me at Mike's; pick up a bunch of fragrant lilies at the luxurious Flowers Vasette; check out the corrugated iron animal sculptures at Fitzroy Nursery, and keep your eyes open for some of Fitzroy’s famed stencil art along the way.
The number 112 tram rumbles toward Brunswick Street from the intersection of Collins Street and Swanston Street. Brunswick Street is 10 minutes north of the CBD.