To Northsiders, the South is just a blur of AFL players, beautiful blondes in yoga pants, Range Rovers and rose. Waiting in line for a table at Top Paddock is just as popular as hyphenated surnames. Green juices are big, as are soy chai lattes.
However, what many Northsiders don’t know is that there is so much more to the South than just Chapel Street.
The last few years has seen a huge range of venues open with relaxed, welcoming vibes that is giving the North a run for their money. Southsiders do everything with style, including drinking and dining. From American style dive bars to sophisticated wine bars and everything in between, Melbourne’s South has a lot on offer.
Next time you’re on this side of the Yarra, check out these southside favourites.
Hats and Tatts
78 Cecil Street, South Melbourne
‘Derelicte my balls’. The blue neon sign glowing proudly behind the bar gives you an idea of what Hats and Tatts is all about, South Melbourne’s frat-themed dive bar. If you don’t understand the reference, then Hats and Tatts probably isn’t for you.
It has a college party vibe that makes you feel as if you in a scene from American Pie, complete with pinball machine, 90’s movie posters, and a table specifically for beer pong on Sundays.
Put your trust in the gregarious bartenders, all hospo legends whose booze knowledge is second to none. After a short chat they’ll somehow make you exactly what you feel like drinking, whether you know it or not, a talent only attained by years of experience. Watch in awe as they whip you up a mean cocktail which can at times look more like a science experiment, utilizing the 450+ spirits available. Even with skills to boot, they’ll still happily crack you a PBR.
The food matches the Americana theme and high quality standards of the alcohol. Think burgers and chicken wings served in classic red plastic baskets and trays.
Go on a Sunday night and have a $5 shot of Jack Daniels with hospo workers, locals, and those who just want to have a good time.
27 Tookak Road, South Yarra
Since opening in late 2015, South Press has grown in leaps and bounds. This locals favourite is now also popular for destination drinkers who appreciate great service and even better wine.
There’s a certain romance associated with South Press, with the dark earthy interiors, rich timbers, and welcoming atmosphere making it perfect for first dates or special occasions. The leafy courtyard is ideal for sipping vino and catching up with friends when the sun is shining, and the cosy bar indoors will keep you warm in the cooler months.
The many wines, displayed in a floor to ceiling wine rack dividing the front room, cover all bases. As the highly knowledgeable staff talk you through the current drops they have available it is obvious they are all industry pros. The staff’s enthusiasm for a good vino means you won’t be disappointed with whatever you end up drinking as they go above and beyond to find you the perfect drop.
The European influenced menu is designed to share, and each beautifully presented dish is damn delicious. From the Hopkins River Beef flank with buttered radish to the complimentary roasted corn kernels, the food does not disappoint.
South Press offers the complete hospitality experience that will see you return again and again… and again… and again.
The Woods Bar and Kitchen
108 Chapel Street, Windsor
The Woods is different to anything else you will find along the Windsor end of Chapel. Previously known as the Woods of Windsor, the Woods main attraction is their extensive whiskey collection.
Indulge in a whiskey flight, where you can try three different types of whiskeys ranging from $18 for those just starting out to $45 for those serious about the drink. Even if you aren’t a big whiskey drinker, the flight is a great way to taste, compare and enjoy whiskey.
The dapper barmen decked out in bowties are masters of their craft and the dimly lit intimate venue is a welcomed change from the other bars scattered along Chapel. Pull up a bar-stool, sip on an old fashioned, and chat to the bartenders next time you’re in Windsor.
637 Chapel Street, South Yarra
Two Wrongs has brought ‘fine-diving’ to the usually sophisticated and elegant South Yarra. Combining the casualty of dive bars with the high-quality foodie experience of fine dining, you’ll find yourself drinking beer out of a can as you use Versace cutlery.
Anything goes at Two Wrongs. On any given night you’ll find one of the charismatic male staff members in a fluro green tutu, an intense game of Mario Kart being carried out in the ‘lounge room’, and Booj the venue dog max’ laxin’ nearby. Lorenzo the golden lobster guards the entrance of this ghetto-glam bar and restaurant, with the eclectic décor continuing inside with vintage green velour couches, hot pink bar stools, and giant neon crosses on the wall.
The relaxed atmosphere is matched by the staff who are all oozing charm and are incredibly accommodating and pride themselves on delivering world-class banter.
Turns out Two Wrongs DOES make a right.
125 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Melbourne’s obsession with USA’s food and drink continues. Last year Fitzroy Street welcomed Freddie Wimpoles, an American style bar. Named after St Kilda’s 1886 Mayor, an avid beer lover who went on to be the director of the Melbourne Co-operative Brewing Company (now Carlton & United Breweries), beer is Freddie Wimpoles main attraction. There’s 13 rotating beers on tap, so you’ll always have something different to try, and a cocktail list consisting of classics with a twist.
The drinks are matched with classic American deli-style snacks, like philly cheese steaks, hot dogs with all the trimmings and slow-cooked meat subs.
There’s a pool table (free on Thursdays), a jukebox cranking your favourite classics, and taxidermy animals lurking throughout the venue. This includes George, the giant deer-head keeping watch over the bar above five shelves of spirits.
Winter is coming, but the red neon sign, burning candles and rustic interior of Freddie Wimpoles provide the necessary warmth to survive Melbourne’s cold.
Add this beer-lovers paradise to your bucket list.
1160 High Street, Armadale
Life is just too short to drink out of sub-par wine glasses, and for those enthusiasts out there who can appreciate the delicacy and importance of this integral vessel, you should get yourselves down to Wine 1160, Armadale’s brand spanking new wine bar that is already making waves in the South.
The focus at Wine 1160 is on the wine. There are wines by the glass on offer that would only typically be available by the bottle, and enough options to keep everyone happy. The wine list has been carefully curated to revolutionise your usual drinking experience, giving new meaning to a usually ordinary ‘wine catch up’.
A stunning interior offers a homely comfort and plays an equally important role as the handpicked collection of wines that are sprawled along the walls. Be sure too to check out the courtyard out the back (that’s also pup friendly)…
Welcome to the Southside, 1160, we are so glad to have you!
29 Fitzroy Street St Kilda
Start spreading the news… I’m leaving today… Well, unfortunately my Myki won’t get me to New York, but it can take me to St Kilda’s 29th Apartment; a New York apartment style bar.
If you love a good house party, you’ll love 29th Apartment. As the name suggests, you’ll feel as if you are literally partying in the States at the apartment of a seriously cashed up friend.
Located in the heart of buzzing Fitzroy street, walk in through the white picket fence to the lounge room where oil paintings cover the walls. Continue on to the bedroom and bathroom complete with a fishtank and bathtub, and to the kitchen, where you’ll find your favourite childhood board games in the 1970’s Kelvinator fridge.
There’s comfy couches, milkcrates for extra seating and ginat jenga, giving it the comfortable, lived-in feel. And like every good apartment party, there’s room to tear up the dance floor, with DJs playing most nights spinning tracks way better than what your iPod shuffle could provide at home.
The American style food and drinks are cheap, and there’s specials on most days. So avoid an angry landlord or eviction notice, skip the house party, and head on down to everyone’s favourite apartment for a fun night out.
By Madeline Wallman