The best pubs and bars in Brunswick: Sydney Road, Lygon Street and beyond

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The best pubs and bars in Brunswick: Sydney Road, Lygon Street and beyond

Brunswick pubs and bars
Words by Benjamin Lamb

Here's our list of the best pubs and bars in Brunswick, so you can go grab a beer, sip a wine, eat some pub food or catch some live music in this Melbourne nightlife precinct.

In our comprehensive guide to the best Brunswick pubs and bars, we’ve packed in some old favourites, post-covid newbies, and some hidden gems that you probably didn’t know about. There’s something for all types of people: if you’re not an alcohol drinker, we’ve got some awesome spots with classic pub meals, some spots with non-alcoholic drinks, and a maybe even a dessert bar. Check out some info about all the spots below, book in a visit, and maybe even find your new favourite local haunt.

If you’re on the other end of Sydney Road, check out our list of the best bars and pubs in Coburg.

Stay up to date with what’s happening in Melbourne here.

Sydney Road

Bif Tannin’s – U5/601 Sydney Rd

This is one of Brunswick’s best spots to take that friend who’s always talking about wine, their range of alcoholic grape juice is mind-boggling.

They’re open from 4pm most days, perfect wine drinking time. They’ve got an array of wine that is phenomenal, and perhaps best of all, you get to serve it yourself: their website notes they’ve got 32 different wines jam packed into their wine machines, from a bunch of different places, types and sizes.

Their range of whiskey is just as full. They stock rare and quirky whiskies that pair with their array of beers and range of pizzas. They’ve got pizzas galore and they’re pretty cheap too, from an easy $8 – $12! A bargain compared to some of the other spots around Brunswick.

Contact them through their website here or give them buzz to book in a table today.

The Brunswick Ballroom – 314 Sydney Rd

One of the finest live music venues in Melbourne, The Brunswick Ballroom is a beautifully refurbished hall in the old Metropolis House building that now hosts some of Melbourne’s favourite live acts.

The upstairs ballroom, accessed via the dramatic staircase, features superb stained glass domes evoking the work of Australian artist Leonard French, before expanding out onto an open-air balcony that takes in the urban streetscape below and the sights of Melbourne’s skyline. It also has the Brunswick Artist’s Bar next door, which doubles as a lovely quaint cafe and bakery.

Check out the Brunswick Ballroom and their live gig listings here.

Retreat Hotel – 280 Sydney Rd

 One of the number one haunts for up-and-coming musos; The Retreat has some pretty cool food and drink that’s worth checking out.

Like all good venues around Melbourne, they’re full of some of the best tap beers from Guinness to Furphy, and some local brews from spots like Moon Dog and Brunswick Brewing. Check out their full range of tap bevs here.

Their food is cool too, it’s got the classic pub feeds like Curries, Parma and burgers!

Enjoy a local beer and a Parma over some of the hot acts heading to the Retreat over December – some awesome acts like Barefoot Bowls Club, SLIT and Holly Hebe.

Check out some more info about everything happening at The Retreat here.

Bergy Seltzer- 68 Sydney Rd

Another awesome hidden gem comes in the form of the Bergy Seltzer.

Their hole in the wall venue has a nice beer garden / outdoor seating area out the back, making sure you can enjoy a beer in the warm of the summer. Their food is new, offering pies from popular inner city baker Carla Montanaro, the perfect pairing with a pint or two.

On the non food / drink side, every Monday, the Bergy puts on some free live comedy, featuring some of our best funny people, and some up and comers that are slowly taking the world by storm.

Check out some more info about The Bergy Seltzer over on their website here.

Rascal Bar – 341 Sydney Rd

Rascal Bar is a casual wine bar and bottle shop with a really funky interior decor that also serves some seriously gourmet dishes. A huge selection of wines, old and new world beers, cocktails and more, served in a beautiful, relaxed setting.

Check out some more info about Rascal Bar here.

Penny’s – 420 Sydney Rd

Coming out of an ex-post office, the pub formerly known as The Penny Black is another cool coupling of cuisines, the venue is a mix of Japanese culture and pub life.

They’ve got a massive range of Japanese finger food and share platers – everyone’s favourites like edamame, unagi, beef tataki and pork katsu.

A big part of their business is also focused on putting on functions – they’ve got a range of pretty reasonably priced packages if you’re looking for somewhere to hold those parties you missed out on during lockdown.

Their music is also some of Melbourne’s finest, check out the music they’ve got on offer here.

Bar Oussou – 653 Sydney Road

Put simply, Bar Oussou is just a lot of fun. It’s an immensely enjoyable and funky venue with a superb multicultural flair that really makes it stand out from the usual Sydney Road vibe. Often considered an African hub in Melbourne’s north, Bar Oussou features a dazzling array of world and jazz music and French-Senegalese food to die for. It has a beautiful little courtyard and for the winter month’s, an actual fireplace. Those are few and far between these days, and we love them.

Follow them on Facebook here.

Weston Street

Waxflower – 153 Weston St

Waxflower is the perfect spot as the weather starts to get a little better. Nestled away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney Road, Waxflower is one of the best spots on our list of the best Brunswick pubs and bars for some laid back bevs with some friends and family.

They’ve got some nice outdoor seating, with a bunch of outdoor heaters for that unpredictable Melbourne weather.

Their menu is exactly what you’d want out of a bar and it’s constantly changing based on season, availability and cost, making sure customers only get the best Aussie produce.

It’s also worth mentioning the venue’s amazing dedication to music. They program from people of all different types and its projected to listeners via a fancy audio system. You can read more info on their dedication to music here.

Check out some more info about Waxflower over on their socials.

Charles Weston Hotel – 27 Weston St

Continuing the old school nods on this list – just down the road from the mighty Beat Magazine office – the Charles Weston mixes the best of the old and the new for a venue enjoyable for all. They’ve got all the beers and wines you love, the kind for a Sunday arvo long stay.

Their menu is one of the best, an extensive selection of share platters, featuring things like Croquettes, tempura battered veggies, baos, plus a heap more that can be checked out here.

On top of providing high class food and drink, they’re also experts in gigs, some of the upcoming shows include Dean Lombard, Dom Rogers and Katankin, plus a lot more that can be checked out here.

Check out some more info about Charles Weston Hotel on their socials here.

Lygon Street

Eydies – 88 Lygon St

If you love heading to bars, but don’t like the people invading your personal space and uncomfortable seats, then Eydies is the spot for you.

As seems to be the case with a few pubs and bars on this list, their roster of cocktails, beers and wines are constantly changing, making sure you’re only getting the best.

But Eydies doesn’t offer any food, rather allowing you to choose from Brunswick’s plethora of eateries, or one of Lygon St’s many amazing highly regarded and rated Italian restaurants.

Check out some more info about Eydies over on their website here.

The Stonemill 347 – 347 Lygon St

This time we’ve got the best of both worlds, The Stonemill 347 is one of the coolest food and wine bars on our list of the best Brunswick pubs and bars.

They’ve got a huge list of Italian inspired share plates, truly making them worthy of the food bar classification – these are things like arancini, deep fried whitebait, and even a cheese board.

Of course their range of wine needs to be seen to be believed – the six page menu has wines from all corners of the earth, and all different types as well, check it out here.

Check out some more info about Stonemill 347 and book in a visit here.

The best of the rest

Howler – 7/11 Dawson St

Another venue with some much-needed parking spots out the front, Howler is one of the best hidden gems in Melbourne.

It’s even just worth heading to check out the amazing skylight / rooftop, where you can bask in the November sun over a pint or two.

They’ve got some cool deals each and every week, to name a few; Wednesday is burger day, $15 for a classy sounding burger with your choice of fries, and every Tuesday through to Friday, you can enjoy a pint of some amazing Moondoog lager for only $8.

Howler is also one of Melbourne’s most popular music venues, upcoming shows include Teenage Dads, Kingswood and Mia Dyson to name a few.

Check out their full gig roster and all the info about food and drink here.

Welcome To Brunswick – 1 Frith St

Welcome to Brunswick is a cool beer garden that looks like the perfect place for a lazy Sunday afternoon, and was a natural selection on our best Brunswick pubs and bars list.

They are in partnership with the awesome 4 Pines brewery, showcasing their cool array of bevs, these are things like a chai porter, XPA, and most interesting of all, a New Zealand XPA with notes of chewing gum.

They’ve got a range of food on offer too, their massive outdoor grill has got some things like Pulled pork rolls, jackfruit rolls and even grilled pumpkins.

Check out some more info about Welcome To Brunswick and book in a visit here.

Shabooh Shoobah – 59A Melville Rd

For a little bit of a journey outside central Brunswick to Brunswick West, Shabooh Shoobah is one of Melbourne’s coolest looking bars.

There’s very little about Shabooh Shoobah online, but it’s definitely worth checking out, their chilled seating, and cheap drinks make it a great spot to kill some hours with some friends.

They’re only open from Friday to Sunday, making sure all the staff are keen to give you the best service and you’ll know it’s always busy and fun.

Check out some images and information of the place over on their website here.

Union Hotel Brunswick – 109 Union St

Another old school joint on our best Brunswick pubs and bars list can be found at 109 Union St, Brunswick, it’s the aptly titled Union Hotel.

It’s an awesome place, but there’s no doubt It’ll take you back to those days where you’d be a kid spending your time in the playground a local pub. It’s got all those pub classics you know and love like steak sandwiches, chicken parmas and fish and chips.

Their extensive range of wines is pretty impeccable too, from all around Australia and beyond.

Much alike all of the popular venues in Brunswick, the Union has a selection of live music on a regular basis.

Check out some more info about it and book in a visit here.

Still thirsty? Check out our guide to the best bars in Preston