The best bars in Preston, Melbourne’s emerging social suburb
27.05.2021

The best bars in Preston, Melbourne’s emerging social suburb

Surly's Bar
Words by Rebecca Miller and Kate Streader

Move over Thornbury, Preston bars are where it’s at.

With Northcote and Thornbury well known for their many great bars, cafes and restaurants, it’s time to explore what Preston has to offer. Here’s a few places worth checking out for the next date night, catch up, or celebration.

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Oliva Social

When all night parties with loved ones at Nonna’s place in Thomastown and Lalor become too big, it’s time to open a bar, says Oliva Social owner, Adam Cursio.

“I had a vision of a party in a bar… a relaxed place, where you don’t have to dress up and that reflects simple food,” Cursio says.

The bar boasts an impressive cocktail list and it’s hard to beat their signature Chinotto Connection (whiskey, Chinotto San Pellegrino, lemon juice and honey). On the menu, pizzas, tapas and grazing platters are bound to tempt even the fussiest foodies.

Inside, high ceilings, polished concrete floors, and black and white décor create a modern, spacious feel while the front courtyard invites you in with cosy picnics tables surrounded by fairy lights and plants.

Find Oliva Social at 102-104 High Street, Preston.

 

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Rebel Rebel

Inspired by David Bowie’s song of the same name, Rebel Rebel is a hidden gem that could be easily missed. Inside, dim, red lights set the mood while records casually rest barside. The intimate, dive bar only opened in 2019, but it feels like an old friend. 

It’s clear to see why this local hangout is a winner. The manager, Chase, tells us the owner wanted to open a bar in an “up and coming suburb” and with a background in hospitality and a dream to fulfil, Rebel Rebel was born.

Vintage photos adorn the walls and outside, fairy lights and candles prove an intimate atmosphere. On a cold night, warming glasses of mulled wine and hot toddys are hard to beat.

Find Rebel Rebel at 93 Plenty Road, Preston.

 

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The Raccoon Club

Arriving at The Raccoon Club, a red door leads you down the long, narrow venue filled with patrons playing pool and various boardgames. Raccoon skins and other taxidermy animals hang above the bar while political statements and nude drawings plaster the walls.

The grungy, vintage feel inside is amplified by CDs, records and VHS tapes piled on a shelf. Old-fashioned lamps hang above the bar.

The large drinks list is well-priced and while there is no kitchen on the premises, local eateries are happy to deliver there. All in all, it’s a great spot to unwind.

Find The Raccoon Club at 145 Plenty Rd, Preston.

 

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Tallboy & Moose

A must visit for any discerning craft beer aficionado, Tallboy & Moose is situated near the border of Preston and Thornbury.

Who do you have to thank for this establishment? Tall Dan and Canadian Steve of course!

An industrial style venue, with beer vats up the back, Tallboy & Moose opened in 2016 and has a vast offering of craft beers including stout, ale, sours, pilsner, pale ales, lager and even seltzer. Take away tinnies and a small wine and cocktail list are also available.

Beer lovers can perch themselves on polished timber benches beneath hanging plants inside or pull up a seat in the courtyard.

Lunch and dinner are covered with Wee Man’s Kitchen, serving up pub grub and some Scottish classics, including homemade haggis and black pudding.

Find Tallboy & Moose at 270 Raglan St, Preston.

 

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Surly’s Bar

Opening its doors in December 2019 before being forced to close just a few months later due to the pandemic, this relatively new kid on the block might’ve slipped your radar.

Contrary to what its name suggests, Surly’s is intimate, warm and familiar. Decked out with mismatched furniture sourced through Facebook Marketplace and channelling the aesthetic of the ’30s and ’40s, this unassuming watering hole is full of character and charm.

Championing fellow small businesses within the community, Surly’s has a bunch of local brews on tap while punters are welcome to order in food from one of the neighbouring eateries.

Find Surly’s at 570 High St, Preston. 

Jamsheed Urban Winery

Melbourne’s first fully-functional winery, Jamsheed is an open-plan warehouse where you can grab a glass of vino, a bowl of pasta and watch the winemaking process taking place.

The industrial space is softened by the addition of vintage furniture, ageing barrels, abundant plants and moody lighting. Upstairs, you’ll find a snug lounging area where you can pull up a comfortable chair or settle in for a quiet game of pool.

On the wine list, you’ll find an assortment of natural wines including their beloved pet nats and a wide selection of reds.

Find Jamsheed Urban Winery at 4 Albert St, Preston. 

 

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Moon Dog World

A repurposed former fabric manufacturing factory-turned-brewery from the folks behind the Abbotsford craft brewery from which it takes its name, Moon Dog World houses a whopping 72 taps and an indoor lagoon.

Suffice to say, this isn’t your typical bar.

A playground for adults complete with all the craft beer you could want, the expansive brewery also features an arcade room, a shipping container dedicated to discos, and room for 725 punters.

With a tiki bar, deck chairs by the lagoon, and a distinct tropical vibe, Moon Dog World is Melburnians’ answer to beers by the beach, all year ’round.

Find Moon Dog World at 32-46 Chifley Drive, Preston.

Ragtime Tavern

If you’re partial to a side of live music with your tipple, boogie woogie piano bar, Ragtime Tavern, is a must-visit.

Depending on the vibe you’re chasing, you can pull up an armchair or a spot on the chaise in the Velvet Lounge or grab a barside stool in the old-school Shared Bar which is literally built around the venue’s main attraction: its baby grand piano.

Harkening the prohibition era, this speakeasy style haunt is the perfect unpretentious space for a low-key night out.

Find Ragtime Tavern at 206 Tyler St, Preston. 

 

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Hard Rubbish

Predominantly decorated with furniture found on the side of the road (hence the name) Hard Rubbish is a colourful, quirky little bar where the vibes are immaculate.

Loud, cartoonish murals stretch across the walls while the overarching DIY aesthetic makes this underdog of Preston’s bar scene instantly loveable.

With cheap cocktails, local brews and wines on the menu and back-to-back bangers on the record player, Hard Rubbish is the kind of bar that’ll have you coming back time and time again.

Find Hard Rubbish at 670 Plenty Rd, Preston. 

 

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Now that you’re set for drinking spots, how about we point you to some food? Check out our guide to cheap eats in Melbourne, every night of the week