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Nothing Beats Bountiful Brunswick

Head north to discover Melbourne's independent heart.

More than a mecca for your inner hipster, this northside hot spot is a beacon for bargain hunters, cafe seekers and music lovers. Take a tour of Sydney Road, Brunswick, on the number 19 tram.

Best Pub Grub, Stop 20 + Barkly Square

The Snug Public House

68 Sydney Road, Brunswick

Weekend breakfast, weekend lunch and dinner every night. The Snug is all about warm service, comfy surrounds and heart-warming food. There are stews and potatoes a-plenty on the Irish-inspired menu, but we can’t go past the barramundi. Served with potato and leek gratin and a chorizo and olive salsa, it’s Ireland meets Australia on a plate.

The Phoenix

133 Sydney Road, Brunswick

This humble and unpretentious bar is known for its line-up of great local music, but punters are increasingly flocking for the food. The woodfired pizzas have a rapidly rising reputation for being the best that this side of town has to offer. The four cheeses variety oozes with classic mozzarella and parmesan, paired creatively with caciocavallo (a type of stretched curd) and blue cheese.

The Charles Weston

27 Weston Street, Brunswick

This is a great spot for a catch-up for two or kicking back with your buds while soaking up some rays in the courtyard. We’re not sure exactly what goes into the maple-glazed barbecue sauce that coats the Korean fried chicken burger, but we’re confident this should be its own food group – it really is that good. With special options for vegans, vegetarians and kids, this hot spot is always pumping.

Great Live Music, Stop 21 + Town Hall

Howler

7-11 Dawson Street Brunswick

A garden, two bars, a DJ booth, band room and killer cocktails. If you’re seeing a gig, this is a place to get to early, so you can relax and enjoy all that Howler has to offer. Catch top-drawer talent from Australia and overseas as well as hot new names in hip-hop, rock, pop and more. Hang with the hipsters at Howler and then fill up. The burgers are a speciality here and the kitchen is open late.

Retreat Hotel

280 Sydney Road, Brunswick

This place doesn’t call itself ‘Brunswick’s home of live music’ for nothing. Bands, soloists and DJs warm up the stage and crowd every night of the week. A stalwart of the Brunswick music scene, this place has moved with the times, while retaining a somewhat nostalgic vibe. Get acquainted with the local talent and discover your new favourite band, or slip upstairs to the stylish Amelia Shaw cocktail bar for some respite from the crowds.

The Spotted Mallard

314 Sydney Road, Brunswick

With so many anniversary shows, album launches and residencies, it’s apparent the Mallard is as much a favourite with performers as with punters. Indie, blues, acoustic, pop, jazz and more are all well represented on the gig guide, and the small intimate stage makes every seat the best in the house. More than just a live music venue in Brunswick, the Mallard boasts a diverse dining menu and an impressive array of craft beers, wines and cocktails, too.

Appetite For Asian, Stop 22 + Albert Street

The Brunswick Mess Hall

400 Sydney Road, Brunswick

From a sumptuous banquet to a single bao, Brunswick Mess Hall has the solution to a hunger of any size. The thoughtful menu highlights options for dietary requirements as well as the level of heat in the spicier dishes. If you like it hot, the grilled Cape Grim short beef rib turns up the spice with house-made smoked chilli sauce. For something lighter, the crispy fried eggplant with kewpie mayo is soft, silky and satisfying.

Green Field Vietnamese

376-378 Sydney Road, Brunswick

Loved by locals for its authentic food and friendly service, Green Field has become a Brunswick institution. The casual vibe here makes this an ideal place for a quick and tasty meal. Bold flavours, fresh ingredients and affordable prices set this eatery apart from its peers. Try the barramundi for a uniquely Vietnamese take on this native Australian fish. It comes crisp fried, served whole and flavoured with fragrant lemongrass.

Gurkha’s Nepalese

414 Sydney Road, Brunswick

When it first opened in 1995, Gurkha’s was one of the first Nepalese restaurants in Melbourne. More than 20 years later, it’s still serving up its signature Himalayan cuisine to devotees of delicious dining. Sample a variety of dishes at the weekly Sunday buffet or order a la carte. The kachila curry is an aromatic dish of meatballs in a rich sauce. It pairs beautifully with the chyau tareko, a wok-fried mushroom dish flavoured with ginger, coriander and soy. Gurkha’s is popular, so it’s a good idea to book ahead.

Cool Cafes, Stop 23 + Victoria Street

Ray Cafe

332 Victoria Street, Brunswick

Although breakfast is served all day here, the star of the cafe can be found on the lunch menu. It’s easy to imagine how the insane brown toastie got its name. It takes what’s between the slices of organic sourdough — apple-braised free-range pork, vintage cheddar sauce, quince aioli, herbs and pickled fennel — to an extreme new level of delectable. Take it up a notch and order like the locals do with a side of gingerbread bacon. Insanity!

Small Axe Kitchen

281 Victoria Street, Brunswick

Tucked away from the main Sydney Road drag, this cute Brunswick cafe is all charm and cool cuisine. The reinvention of European-style classics is all the rage at the moment and Small Axe gets it right. Here, the fried sardines come with smoked green olive tapenade, golden raisins, pine nuts and aioli on organic toast. And the coffee? Perfection.

Long Story Short

2/10 Tropovich Street, Brunswick

Two words: bottomless brunch. Every Sunday you can choose any dish and wash it down with two glorious hours of bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys. We don’t need to tell you what a popular idea this is, so make sure you book. If booze at brunch isn’t your bag, never fear. The fairy floss dessert burger is available all day and sits right at home alongside classics like pulled pork and eggs any way you like them.

Brunswick Browsing, Stops 22-24

Brunswick Bound

361 Sydney Road, Brunswick + Stop 22

It wasn’t that long ago that book stores were going bust, but Brunswick Bound has weathered the storm and come out just as intriguing, original and fabulous as ever. The range here covers everything from arty to quirky to kids, with a few bestsellers thrown in for good measure. Plus, there is vinyl, stationery and gifts in the mix, too. This place is a treasure trove of everything you love.

Dejour Jeans

542 Sydney Road, Brunswick + Stop 24

Australian made, ethically produced, tailored to fit… these are just some of the reasons bargain hunters flock here. Dejour offers an impressive range, including different waist, length and leg fits, as well as a same-day alteration service. If jeans top the list of wardrobe essentials for you, then this is a must-stop shop.

Round and Round Records

556 Sydney Road, Brunswick + Stop 24

For more than 10 years, Round and Round has been buying and selling new and used records – but not just any old vinyl. Here, you will find out-of-print, rare, autographed, limited-release and first pressing records of just about every music genre you can imagine. Shipments come in almost daily, which should tell you how fast the shelves are emptied and restocked. If you’re on the hunt for something special, be quick, because this is where every vinyl enthusiast in town is headed.

Getting Around Sydney Road, Brunswick

Tram The number 19 tram from Elizabeth Street in the CBD will take you right into Brunswick’s beating heart. Hop on and off all day as you experience Sydney Road.

Train Catch the Upfield line to Jewel or Anstey station. From there, Sydney Road and the number 19 tram are just a four-minute walk away.