With its dynamic mix of nightlife, eateries, drinking spots, fashion boutiques and quirky gems, Smith Street has no shortage of personality, drawing punters from all over town to enjoy its many varied delights. With friendly small bars, laidback pubs, cosy wine and cheese nooks and live music dens, the strip is a nightlife destination in its own right, with something to suit every mood, on any night of the week. Jump on the 86 tram, because here’s our guide to the bars, pubs and clubs of Smith Street.
BEST FOR A RELAXED NIGHT OUT
This cabaret bar is the cure to any bout of boredom, with a weekly lineup of fun that inspires many a return visit. Swing by for some comedy, a drag show or the hilarious Granny Bingo, or simply pull up booth for some cosy cocktails with friends. $10 gets you a jug of beer on Thursdays or a tasty cocktail on Fridays – both perfect accompaniments to the house pizza.
Two Row – Fitzroy
Your Smith Street destination for a quiet spot of craft beer appreciation. Two Row might be tiny, but her five rotating taps are always pouring some magnificent brews. Pop in for an adventurous drop, teamed with a gourmet grilled cheese sanga or charcuterie board. Upstairs, you’ll find a cosy extension of your living room – the perfect spot for winter brews.
Pixel Alley – Fitzroy
Get ready for grown-up gamer heaven – Pixel Alley’s got all the old-school arcade classics, as well as fun, themed cocktails, tinnies and local beer on tap. Unleash your inner teen with the likes of Streetfighter and NBA Jam, while sipping rum-infused Konkey Dong cocktails. Keep an eye out for $5 happy hour schooners every Friday and Saturday, and “free play” on Tuesdays.
Kent St – Fitzroy
Cruisy vibes abound at this laidback local haunt, where you’re guaranteed to see familiar faces sipping streetside pints, on any given night. A favourite for after-work drinks, Tuesday night trivia or live tunes and DJs throughout the rest of the week. The staff are fun, the wall art is cool, and there are plenty of cheeky drink specials to be had. Get on down.
This low-key cocktail bar nods to 1920s drinking culture; all chandeliers, gramophones and classic-leaning concoctions. With its moody lighting and cosy feel, it’s a great escape from the strip’s usual hustle and bustle – pop in for Wednesday night comedy, a weekend tipple or maybe a date-night cocktail in the basement. Happy hour runs from 5-7pm, Wednesday – Friday.
The Birmingham – Fitzroy
A friendly boozer with all the old-school pub trimmings you could ask for. Here, you’ll find big screens showing all the major sporty stuff, taps pouring local brews and a food menu full of the classics. Pull up a stool in the atmospheric front bar, or escape to the upper deck for a few quiet pints with friends. Happy hour here means $14 jugs and 50c hot wings from 3-7pm.
Huey Long’s – Fitzroy
Tucked away out the back of Po’Boy Quarter, and boasting the same menu of Southern fare, Huey Long’s serves up some smashing New Orleans cocktails. It’s a cosy dive bar rocking a healthy dose of neon, moody lighting and plenty of Louisiana craft beers in the fridge. But you’d be crazy not to sample that well-priced cocktail list, starting with a top-notch Sazerac.
BEST FOR DINNER AND DRINKS
Smithward – Fitzroy
When it’s time for some indulgence of the vino-and-cheese variety, look no further than this quaint spot. With its European feel and top-notch food and drink offering, Smithward is perfect for those elegant evenings out. The wine list focuses on locally-produced Euro styles, with some excellent snacking to match – just try to deny yourself some of that bubbling Raclette cheese.
Habitat Lounge – Fitzroy
This cosy cocktail lounge is the perfect spot for after-work drinks that slip easily into dinner and beyond, thanks to some brilliant happy hour specials and an easy-going vibe. Between 5-7pm, you can drop by for a few hard earned $12 Espresso Martinis; half-priced sharing platters; and throwback tunes, sticking around later to sample more tasty cocktails and kitchen morsels.
Panama Dining Room – Fitzroy
Climb the stairs to Panama Dining Room and you’ll be rewarded with an all round delicious experience, whether you’re there for a top-notch tipple, or a hearty dinner with friends. The kitchen’s inspired, Euro-leaning fare is hard to pass up, though the buzzing, loft-style space is equally perfect for after-dinner cocktails or an evening spent sharing bottles of wine.
The Grace Darling – Collingwood
If you’re yet to try the menu at this popular pub, what are you waiting for? Beyond the buzzing front bar, you’ll find a quieter dining space, where you can feast on modern Australian dishes and more classic pub fare. Afterwards, stick around for a few post-dinner wines, head downstairs for a gig in the band room, or enjoy crafty pints back in the streetside beer garden.
The Meatball and Wine Bar – Collingwood
Balls are the order of the day at this Smith Street bar and eatery, though you’ll also find a pretty ballin’ drinks situation. Swing by for a meatball dish slathered in your favourite sauce, and matched with a glass or two of wine, then stick around to share after-dinner carafes of Aperol Spritz. You’ll also find plenty of great classic cocktails.
MJR TOM – Collingwood
With its eye-catching fitout, MJR TOM transitions easily from daytime cafe to after-dark drinking den. Swing by at dinner time to indulge in some contemporary share plates, pints of craft beer and locally-produced wine. Afterwards, choose between a game of pool down in the basement, or a few signature Espresso Martinis in the beautifully kitted-out back bar.
Bebida – Fitzroy
This all-day Smith Street spot is now a favourite for dinner and drinks, complete with secluded courtyard out the back, people-watching galore out the front and the odd spot of live music. The atmosphere is warm and cheery, the drinks list is packed with local beer and wine, and the food gives a hearty nod to Spain. A great place for a quality feed and a lazy evening of drinks.
BEST FOR A BIG NIGHT WITH FRIENDS
No one helps amp up your evening vibes quite like Mr Scruff’s can. This thumping bar is all about the dude food and the solid beats, with all the atmosphere you need to get a party started right. Feast on burgers and brews in the beer garden, then dive into the weekend spirit with help from genius cocktails, a thumping dance floor and DJ tunes that run from hip hop to funk.
The Gasometer – Collingwood
A legendary live music venue since way back, Collingwood’s Gasometer Hotel has seen its fair share of big nights. These days, it works just as well for a comfy craft beer session in the front bar as it does for a wild night on the tiles. The lofty band room features its own bar and a nifty retractable roof, playing host to an array of high-energy gigs and weekend DJ sets.
Mr Wow’s Emporium – Fitzroy
Fun-seekers are well looked after at this endlessly entertaining bar, which features a pool table, ping pong room and indoor bocce pitch, for starters. Add to that the great balcony with views over Smith Street, and the smashing selection of classic-leaning cocktails and craft beers, and you’ll find there’s plenty to keep you absorbed during a big night on the town.
Foresters Hall – Collingwood
Boasting 32 craft beer taps, a 4am licence and a late-night dive bar upstairs, this sprawling beer hall is a fun-lovers paradise. You can swing by for some exceptional brews and a game of pool or ping pong; to catch the footy on the big screen; or to treat your ears to some live tunes. And with the kitchen serving tasty pizza till 2am, there’s really no need to leave before closing time.
Grumpy’s Green – Fitzroy
Your Smith Street destination for chilled out couch time, live tunes and beer. Grumpy’s doesn’t try too hard to please, but it’s difficult not to love its laidback feel and inviting space. There’s a solid range of craft beer on tap, a great little beer garden and more squashy couches than they know what to do with. Live tunes and cheap jugs are a great start to any big night.
BEST FOR A BOOGIE
Yah Yah’s – Fitzroy
With live tunes on offer throughout the weekend, this spot’s a favourite for music lovers and partiers alike. First up, the front bar will help get your night off to a brilliant start, with $6 happy hour pints and basics from 5-8pm. Then, you’re ready to hit the band room or the dance floor for a solid shape throwing session, with doors open till 5am Fridays and Saturdays.
Greenwood Loft – Fitzroy
Head up the stairs at Greenwood Loft to find your new favourite dance floor on the strip. Here, pumping live tunes and DJ sets range from soul funk to motown and disco, so there’s always something to get you grooving on the dance floor. Tasty signature cocktails will help you refuel in style, and cushy booths are great for when your feet need a break.
Sircuit – Fitzroy
Smith Street’s favourite gay bar is open Thursday through Sunday, with a weekly lineup that caters to anyone and everyone. If you want to finish up the week with a bang though, be sure to pop in for Sunday Fun Day, when entry is free and the dance floor is absolutely heaving. Expect drag queens, phat beats and $4 Jagermeisters, all night long.