Beat’s guide to Melbourne’s best record store cafes
06.01.2022

Beat’s guide to Melbourne’s best record store cafes

Melbourne record store cafes - Feedback Cafe
Words by Benjamin Lamb and Tom Parker

Browse vinyl, crate dive into wax and sip an espresso martini all the while with our picks of Melbourne's best record store cafes.

While the weather slowly warms up in Melbourne, we’re all looking for cool activities to do while basking in the sun. Sure, heading to the beach or shopping for a new bargain is great, but why not try something new? We’ve got a heap of awesome hidden gems that are worth checking out.

There’s no question that two things that Melbourne and Melburnians do well are coffee and music, and when mixing it together, it’s truly something special. That’s what we’re diving into today, some of Melbourne’s best record store food haunts where you can grab an espresso and delve into some wax magic.

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White Rabbit Record Bar

Address: 176 Bellair St, Kensington, Vic 3031
Vibe: Homey feel, nice and chill.
Food: Mexican, tapas, brunch, and café food.
Genres: A bit of everything.

Kicking off our journey around Melbourne’s vinyl and food hot spots is The White Record Rabbit bar. It’s got a pretty deceptive façade; you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it’s an old school fish and chip joint. But the exterior hides some amazing stuff, you’ll never want to leave. The blue backed nameboard out the front is juxtaposed with a white paint job, giving it an old school vibe, it doesn’t appear like the amazing record shop it is, but head in and be blown away by the trendy interior.

Transient onlookers could mistake it for a fish and chip shop such are the colour combinations of the anterior. A blue backing to the name board is complemented by white outdoor settings akin to your favourite Williamstown seafood eatery but all reservations are put to bed upon entering the record store/bar/café. White Rabbit houses a wonderful collection of contemporary and antique records, from Jimi Hendrix to Crystal Castles and for prices as low as $1. DJs are spinning vinyl on weekends but more importantly there’s coffee and a comfortable seating area for you when the fatigue sets in.

Nestled away in Kensington, The White Rabbit opened up in 2002, it was the brainchild of three mates who were massive vinyl junkies – they love all types of genres, so you’ll fit in no matter what you like. This also means that the White Record Rabbit bar has a massive array of vinyls on offer, they’re full of your favourite releases.

On the food side, it’s the perfect spot for a Sunday arvo session, their bar is Mexican inspired, complete with all day brunch, tapas, and some beautiful alcoholic beverages. Or if you’re not feeling in the mood for food, you can grab a tasty cappuccino and admire your new record haul. Check out more info on their food offerings here.

The White Rabbit’s also got a beautiful courtyard in the sun where you can enjoy a bite and chill out with some fresh wax being spun.

Feedback Café

Address: 31 Ballarat St, Yarraville VIC 3013
Vibe: Old school with a modern spin.
Food: Full lunches and tasty specials.
Genres: Blues emphasis, but a bit of everything.

We’re all aware that Yarraville is going through a mini commercial boom at the moment with its rising café scene and surging residential appeal and the Feedback Café is a picture of that expansion. The record store was already synonymous to the area prior to the upturn but a greater trickle of fresh clientele has propelled it into even greater relevance within the Melbourne café/music scene. They sell second-hand vinyl, from original blues & jazz to classic pop/rock & soul and create some of the best Grounded Pleasures hot choccie delights.

The Feedback Café is the epitome of a hidden gem. Located in the heart of Yarraville, this record spot is dedicated on bringing some of the best music, best food, and amazing service to vinyl aficionados across Melbourne. They’ve got many loyal customers who have had nothing but positives to say about it, according to their almost perfect rating on Google reviews. It’s clear they have a great tight knit community, so you know you’ll be treated well. The Feedback Café is nestled among many other spots going through the modern boom in recent months, they’re a staple of an ever-changing scene. The record store was already synonymous to the area prior to the boom but a greater trickle of fresh customers has propelled it into even greater attention within the Melbourne café/music scene.

They’ve only got a small selection of records you can purchase, predominately in the blues genre, but as it the case with vinyl shopping, you never know what you can find. There’s a few crates full of vinyls next to where you wait for your coffee, probably one of the only times you’ll be happy to wait for your brew.

Once again, this vinyl spot dishes up some pretty phenomenal food and beverages, focused on operating a café that benefits the environment and is sustainable, they really make sure they’re curating a special menu. Their ingredients are also extremely fresh and organic, from the eco-friendly packaging they use to where they dispose of their items.

They also have some cool weekly specials, and as we move into 2022, they’ve got some really interesting themed specials, with some recent ones being a ‘Morpheus Lunch’ based on the new Matrix film, and ‘The Mikado’, based on new movie Licorice Pizza. Check out some more on them over at their socials below. They offer all the things you’d expect out of a cool inner Melbourne café, banh mi’s, coffee, milkshakes, and lots more. Dive into their full menu here.

Alley Tunes

Address: 8/660A Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122
Vibe: Modern feel with a live venue vibe.
Food: Lots of coffee items.
Genres: Everything, but a big electronic collection.

Having already featured in Beat’s Guides for its coffee-making aptitude, Alley Tunes makes this list instead for its ability to combine the two parallels. When a bunch of friendly and informed musos take over a record store not only are you bequeathed with an outstanding selection of the finest vinyl but educated guidance to help you find the record you so desire. They specialise in the underground dance scene which is most exciting given Melbourne’s boom in this genre and their espresso bar generates a simple but efficient beverage menu.

Alley Tunes has been a staple of the Melbourne vinyl and coffee scene for a fair amount of time, having first reportedly opened back in 94’. Since its inception, a café has been added, bringing in music fans across Australia for a listen and a tasty coffee or two. You can head there from 7am, which is insane for a record shop, Alley Tunes is definitely something special.

It’s as much of a café as it is a record store, and they perform both areas at the top of their game. Located in a heavily populated spot, between Glenferrie Station and Swinburne Uni, it’s the perfect place to meet up with some mates. The interior design is the perfect mix of old school vibes with modern flavours, making it a fun spot to visit.

If you’re an electronic music fan, this is the space for you, they have a whopping 41 pages on their online store dedicated to electronic vinyl, which you can check out here, or head in for a visit. Or if you’re not sure what you want to buy, their dedicated team of musos who run the spot will guide you around and help you pick your new favourite record.

They’ve got a massive variety of vinyls across a number of different prices; their $5 bargain bin has been lauded for its fresh finds and massive bargains. They’ve got records in jazz, blues, techno, and lots more that you can check out here.

Grab all your favourite coffee items, like a latte, espresso or chai, or even a tea if you’re feeling extra fancy. For these warmer months, you can grab iced versions of all these things too, perfect for a cool down.

L’espresso

Address: 417 Sturt St, Ballarat Central VIC 3350
Vibe: Cool modern spot with great food.
Food: Breakfast classics across sweet and savoury.
Genres: A bit of everything.

These guys have been the lifeblood of the Ballarat café/record scene for over two decades and while they’re not operating in Melbourne, they deserve a special mention. Upon arrival, you’re bestowed with Ballarat’s most eclectic and historical arrangement of records to sink your teeth into. Shop owner Greg Wood hasn’t pigeonholed the theme of the collection – there’s everything from Miles Davis to Yo La Tengo. It’s synonymous with Ballarat now and it always will be.

Despite the fact they’re not in Melbourne, but L’espresso are a spot on this list that are definitely worth a mention. Nestled away in the heart of Ballarat Town, L’espresso have been around for decades, and are dedicated on bringing customers the best mix of music and drinks. L’espresso have been a constant in the music and indie scene in Ballarat for a number of years and are often lauded for their large range of records, the owner stocks all types of records, from Miles Davis to Yo La Tengo. They don’t seem to have an online store, so you’ll have to head in for a shop, and there’s almost no chance you’ll leave empty handed.

On the food and drink side, they’ve got a bunch of lovely coffee on offer, and seasonal food that will make your mouth water. These are classic breakfast items like toasts, crossaints, pancakes, and lots of big breakfasts like Eggs Benedict, Eggs Florentine, and lots more. Check out some more info about L’espresso over on their Instagram page here.

Counterweight Vinyl and Espresso

Address: 32 Chambers St, Footscray VIC 3011
Vibe: The best of Melbourne’s modern style.
Food: Local food and great coffee.
Genres: A heap of different genres, but with an electronic emphasis.

This is a newer spot on this list, dedicated to two things Melbourne does best, Coffee and Vinyls. There are massive selections of vinyls, with an emphasis on electronic genres like House, Dubstep and Techno. On top of that, you can also purchase a selection of plants by East Coast Plant Supply to make sure your house looks extra nice.

Vinyls range from an easy dollar to almost $100 for some rare first pressings of albums like Cypress Hill’s Black Sunday. This spot is run by local DJ’s; Rob Graham and Sam Hastings, so you know the music on offer will be great. They also make sure you have everything that you need for fresh vinyl to be played, they also offer needles, cartridges, cleaning supplies and record sleeves to make sure you’ve got the full package.

There’s lots and lots of food and drink on offer and it’s great to see that a lot of it is local – coffee is supplied by North Melbourne’s Bailey Coffee, local Cobb Lane’s bakery bring customers things like pretzels, doughnuts and cookies. On the drinks side, Counterweight Vinyl and Espresso offer Prana chai and cold brew.

There’s no menu at this spot, but they offer some food to order, everyone’s favourite, toasties. These are made with bread, a fancy cheese called havrati, spinach, mushrooms truffle oil, salami and sauerkraut, that should be making your mouth water. Check out some more info about the food Counterweight Vinyl offer here.

Park Lane Café

Address: 387 Clarendon St, South Melbourne VIC 3205
Vibe: Great community minded café.
Food: Tasty food, café classics.
Genres: A few selections across a few different genres.

This spot is the personification of Melbourne, located on Clarendon St in South Melbourne. They don’t have a lot online about them, so it’ll be worth heading there to have a look.

Their food appears to be some of Melbourne’s best, their bevy of five-star reviews reference the A+ customer service, amazing food, and tasty drinks.

Their coffee is freshly made, and has countless positive reviews, and on the food side, they’re a bustling brunch and lunch spot, full of café snacks like Nutella croissants and Anzac biscuits, Melbourne classic Smashed avo on toast, plus lots more that you’ll have to check out there.

On the music side, they haven’t got a massive range of records, but there’s a select few to browse through while you’re waiting for your cappuccino. Check out their Facebook page here for some more details about Park Lane Café.

Eclectico

Address: 163a Acland St, St Kilda VIC 3182
Vibe: Cool modern shop with great environmental benefits
Food: Chair tea only
Genres: A bit of everything, old school to newest releases.

They’re experts in the field of bohemian tie die and authentic jewellery and have recently expanded on their music section. From Stevie Wonder to Steve Winwood, Eclectico caters for predominantly soul, jazz and world music enthusiasts. While they don’t sell coffee, they have a homemade chai tea on offer which they infuse daily with fresh spices. Then lounge out the back in their retro courtyard and pat yourself on the back as you inspect the shine on your new LP.

If you’re a fan of vinyl and that sort of culture, Eclectico is the kind of store you can spend a whole day in. It’s a one stop shop for all good stuff, there’s locally produced and worldwide men’s and women’s clothing, jewellery, accessories, and essential oils.

They’re also experts in the field of cool and quirky garments and necklaces, and have only just recently increased their vinyl offerings, catering for predominantly soul, jazz and world music enthusiasts, but there’s also a wide array of records from old to new, things like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black to modern releases like MGMT’s Oracular Spectacular and The Teskey Brothers’ Run Home Slow.

If you don’t feel like taking a journey up to St Kilda to visit Eclectico, you can grab a lot of their vinyls online through their e-store here.

As mentioned, Eclectico offer customers a cool mix of Clothing, Jewellery & Accessories from some of the world’s coolest places, and they make sure everything’s sourced from eco-friendly places, too, so you’ll feel good about spending a bit of money here.

There’s something truly special about this spot, instead of coffee, they offer a tasty homemade chai tea that’s infused daily with fresh spices. Check out some more info about Eclectico over on their website here.

In memoriam, remembering the awesome vinyl haunts no longer with us:

Lulu’s

The author of celebrated punk magazine Distort, Dan Stewart, along with the guys behind Melbourne punk label Cool Death opened up a small record store out the back of Carlton North’s dive bar A Fan’s Notes. Open Thursday to Sunday, Lulu’s was considered a ‘micro’ record store for not only its miniature size but focus on peddling Melbourne’s most discrete vinyl collection. Within the same premises, A Fan’s Notes made a great espresso… or espresso martini, depends on what you’re into.

787 Nicholson Street, Carlton North

A G Picks

Another ‘micro’ record store to open up in collaboration with a café was A G Picks. They worked in rhythm with itty bitty vegan coffee makers Magic Hour Espresso and prominent Richmond florist Lilac and the Cat. Run by the dudes from Melbourne garage outfit Mad Nanna, the store had no real theme but houses some of Melbourne’s most underappreciated and exclusive music. Magic Hour’s vegan cupcakes were to die for.

6 Cremorne Street, Richmond

Houndstooth/Lofi Bar & Kitchen

Speaking to Joseph Simone from Fitzroy bar and kitchen stalwarts Houndstooth, the newly turned record store is in the process of a minor identity adjustment. Lofi is a fresh title Simone believes will encapsulate the restaurants evolution welcoming more live music and vinyl sales. Despite this, he reiterated the importance of the Houndstooth legacy and keeping that name strong. In competition with A Fan’s Notes for the best espresso martini and espresso double threat.

36 Johnston Street, Fitzroy

Special Request Vinyl Record Bar

The recent vinyl boom has sprung hope and life into our record stores and as the industry claws its way back into relevancy, the opening of more stores such as Coburg’s Special Request Vinyl Record Bar brings great joy to us all. And when they boast a meteoric stash of the best underground dance and DJ friendly vinyl then you have to have a think to yourself and say – ‘do I really feel this good?’ On the 15th June, these guys will be open for coffee business as they team up with Gravity Espresso to bring the musos of Coburg their long blacks and lattes. It’s not here yet but it’s coming and it’s exciting.

Okay, now you’ve read that, here’s our uber comprehensive guide to Melbourne’s best speciality record stores for every niche and kitsch.