The Melbourne bar scene is undeniably strong. You could say it’s as strong as a booze-soaked ox or a free-pouring horse. The hidden Melbourne bar scene is also rather robust. It’s just that you don’t know where the hidden Melbourne bars are, until you know where they are. Such is the nature of hidden things.
We take a look at three of the coolest hidden Melbourne bars, for those in the dark when it comes to being in the know.
Hidden Melbourne bar 1
Pizza Pizza Pizza
New York style slices and a sneaky bar with no name. That’s what you’ll find at this Meyers Lane pizza shop. However, don’t expect to waltz into Pizza Pizza Pizza and straight into booze town. A touch of subtly is needed here – ask for the “secret menu” and the staff will hopefully oblige.
A big, shiny black curtain leads to a relaxed and understated room with booths and DJ decks. The menu is filled with stiff classic cocktails and yes, you can order a slice to your table.
Where: 16 Meyers Place, Melbourne
Hidden Melbourne bar 2
You could wander into Boston Sub to order and American style sandwich and no one would bat an eyelid. You could also go there to try and slip through the faux freezer door unnoticed and into the speakeasy-esque world behind.
Enter Jungle Boy, a vine-covered courtyard tiki bar out the back of a late night hoagie shop. Melbourne’s tropical cocktail interpretation of C. S. Lewis’ wardrobe.
The hardest part isn’t locating the place, it’s getting in. You might find yourself loitering in front of the deep fryer, sipping beers and waiting for the “same goes in as comes out” crowd control to work its magic. Once in, you’re looking for a seat in the shadowy lounge, lively bar or leafy courtyard.
Where: 96 Chapel Street, Melbourne
Hidden Melbourne bar 3
Could a bar be more intimate? Above Board has 12 seats in total, and they’re all at the bar. You can’t book and you can’t stand in the bar, so going in large groups is a no-no.
It’s also pretty damn hard to find (come to think of it, that’s probably a prerequisite for a “hidden bar”, isn’t it?). You turn off Perry Street and onto the street-art-laden and not-Google-mapped Chopper Lane. Go up a flight of stairs with fingers crossed in hope that 1. You have the right place, and 2. There’s a pew with your name on it.
It’s like an Aussie cocktail bar version of Sukiyabashi Jiro. It’s exclusive, special and it has it definitely has its charm. Score a seat at this little gem and you’ll indulge in cocktails the way owner Hayden Lambert like cocktails. That is, with minimal garnish, plenty of sauce, and a precise and meticulous composition.
Where: Level 1 306 Smith Street, Collingwood
words by niall roeder
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