Melbourne City Guide

If we hear one more comment about Melbourne’s ‘vibrant laneways’ we’ll punch someone in the neck. People here talk about ‘secret alleyways’ and ‘hidden hotspots’ as though they’re trapped in a Harry Potter novel, but there’s more than a grain of truth in it. Studios, music venues, cafes, cinemas, zine shops and boutiques are still slotting themselves in anywhere they fit – from loading docks and rooftops to electric substations and train tunnels. More than anything, though, Melbourne is a city where people try new things. Because they know the rest of us will turn up and check it out – at least the first time. Dates for your diary: Thursday nights are for exhibition openings and every night is for live music.


Everyday Coffee

Where: Everyday Coffee, 33 Johnston St, Collingwood (next to 99 Problems)

When: Mon - Sat 7am-5pm, Sun 8am-5pm

Contact: (03) 9973 4159,

Everyday Coffee wants to assist in caffeinating you, 365 days of the year - your birthday, Jesus’s birthday, the Queen’s birthday. As reliably as the sun does rise, there’ll be someone behind the machine to top up your Texas tea. Along with co-owner Hugo Atkins, director of the Magic Johnston Design & Arts Cultural Complex, those someones are a bloody wonderful team of faces, each with a passionate interest in coffee, tempered by an equally solid grounding in their creative fields: Mark W Free of the roving Black Coffee pop-up, sometime writer and thrower of dance-parties such as Heavenly Bodies and Daydreams; Joe Miranda, fresh from Brother

Baba Budan and co-creator of The Hard

Workers Club and Melbourne’s Independent Photography Festival; and Aaron Maxwell, also of Brother, former graphic designer now turned full-time coffee pro. With a tendency towards overachievement it comes as no surprise they’ve shrugged the standard single origin to run a constantly updating selection of five local beans dispersed over three differing methods of extraction.

Meaning, they will be grinding different espresso beans for your long black (Seven Seeds) than they will for your flat white (Small Batch - Candyman). The Moccamaster will be constantly brewing one-litre batches of filter-style coffee, again from its own blend (Code Black - Kenya Mugaya), and two pour-overs will be slow-dripping Seven Seeds Kiangai AA and Market Lane Santa Isabel to order. Think of individual coffee roasters as component gases and Everyday Coffee as the Earth’s atmosphere in its entirety. If you require caffeine to function, there is no chance of not surviving at 33 Johnston Street.

By Sarah Booth




Where: Boney, 68 Little Collins St, Melbourne

When: Mon - Wed 12pm–3am, Thu 12pm–5am, Fri 12pm–7am, Sat 5pm–7am, Sun 5pm–5am

After laying dormant for some time, 68 Little Collins has risen to step out into the morning sun as Boney – a ‘new’ venue with live music seven nights a week, including until 7am weekends, plus a kitchen with a menu designed by chef Karen Batson (Cookie, Choo Choo’s, Colonel Tan’s).

As the name suggests, not a whole lot has changed from legendary previous tenant Pony. The toilets are cleaner but the infamous 2am band spot remains. The upstairs band room (with enough space for 200 people) has been swept out and a new PA and DJ booth installed; downstairs, we were shown how the cushions on the benches can be removed to encourage people to get up for the good ol’ late-night bump and grind. Music bookers Emily Ulman (The Toff in Town) and Luke Pocock

(Daydreams) have hooked acts including the

UK’s Laurel Halo, Andras Fox and Darren Sylvester with his album launch. Regular nights are happening too – they’ve already got Katie Pearson (Dancetaria, Flawless Queer Salon), as well as Danny Hotep and Simon Barry doing a “dance fantasy club nite dedicated to all things disco and debauchery” called Misty Nights.

The food from the menu is available for lunch, dinner or to take away and includes slow-baked lamb shoulder, zucchini pancakes and jalapeño donuts; meanwhile, the bar is stocked with enough wine, beer and cocktails for all your late-night carousing and careening.

By Tim Scott



Lee Ho Fook

Where: 92 Smith St, Collingwood

When: Wed–Sat dinner, Sun lunch and dinner

Contact: (03) 9077 6261

The wonder is why it hasn’t happened earlier, not that we’re unwelcome it has. Melbourne is accustomed to pan-Asian and Southeast Asian food given a contemporary sheen and introduced to a little Western casual-dining convention. Chinese cuisine being treated similarly has been elusive. That is until chef Victor Liong opened up Lee Ho Fook.

Of Chinese-Malay extraction and Sydney training (Marque, Mr Wong’s) Victor says he, primarily, wanted to open a place he would want to eat at with friends. His “new-style Chinese” is “produce based and technique driven”. Though don’t take ‘technique driven’ to mean pretentious. The milk buns with candied pork and cucumber we tried were inspired by a hungover walk through 35-degree Kuala Lumpur trying to find something to soothe an unruly belly. Simplicity, overall, seems to prevail. I’ll have to go back for the steamed soy custard with ox tongue and hot and sour sauce. Perhaps bring a friend for the Yunan-style lamb shoulder for two.

Cocktails are classically informed, no smashings of lychees and lemongrass and kaffir lime. The wine list is a nice balance of old and new world with a wee emphasis on sherry – subtly evoking British colonialists in Hong Kong sippin’ on amontillado. Operations manager Chantelle Kallmeier (Vue de Monde) says to ask after a “secret stash” of back-vintage specialities if you’re feeling indulgent. The interior by Nick Travers of Techne Architects complements the general mood of the restaurant. Simultaneously refined and relaxed.

By Kane Daniel


Small Run Vinyl

Where: Studio at 131 Plenty Rd, Thornbury, open by appointment

Contact Email: for questions and orders

Small Run is a vinyl-cutting paradise hidden behind an old trophy shop in Thornbury. At the head of this divine utopia is Nathan Sawford. Nathan spent some time earlier this year in Friedrichshaten, Germany, with a vinyl-cutting yogi called Souri. They sat for five days in a barn together as Souri shared his infinite cutting wisdom. Nathan brought a machine and his new skills back to Melbourne with him and now we can all enjoy hand-cut, one-off records.

Nathan helps out bands who can’t afford, or don’t think they can sell, the 300-record order minimum imposed by most record cutters. Instead, he’ll lathe cut you 1, 20, 30 or more, so that you can find out if your record sucks or not before placing a huge order. He’ll also record one-off ‘love letter’ and birthday records. Basically, if you want anything on vinyl, Nathan can make it happen. They’re cut in real-time, too, making each record slightly different, which is pretty special. Records come in three different sizes, starting at $40 and getting cheaper the more records you order.

One man, one machine, records for all.

By Heather Lighton



Juke Case By Son Valise

Where: 195 Johnston St, Collingwood

When: Wed–Sat 10am–6pm, Sun 12–4pm

Funk in the trunk. Bass in the case. Calypso in the portmanteau.

Vincent Corneille and Rubin Utama make JukeCases – portable suitcases from the ‘60s and ‘70s, equipped with vintage speakers. They look cool, sound even better and are operated by a battery that can last up to 15 hours (which I calculated as just under 14 continuous laps of the City Circle tram route).

They’ve had an online presence for a while, but have just opened a HQ in the growing Johnston Street neighbourhood between Wellington and Hoddle. Walk in and buy a setup off the floor, or choose one of the lovely Fitzroy-made Everlites and have it custom-made for you. Vincent (who worked in cancer research before speakers and luggage) showed me a sweet 1970s era AG Blackwell that would be even sweeter with some 1970s era rock blaring from it.

The price can get serious, but this is some serious stuff. We’re talking full-range audio. That transistor radio in your bumbag doesn’t come with vintage cork-trimmed speakers and Bluetooth integration. These guys could transform that overnight bag Aunt Bess took to hospital (the last time she ever needed to use it) into a real raging ghetto blaster.

By Tim Scott



DIY Cupcakes at 123 Cake

Where: 472 Victoria St, North Melbourne

When: Mon 11am–6pm, Wed 11am–6pm, Thu–Sun 11am–9pm

Contact: (03) 9329 6450

Usually you don’t have the chance to customise your food when you go out. Nobody brings you your pizza to decorate, or gives you the chance to liberate your creative instincts by sprinkling stuff on the bun of your burger.

Well, this is all about to change. Take control – go to 123 Cake in North Melbourne. In this sugary wonderland everything is made to tickle your imagination, unleash your creativity… and make you feel like you stepped into a Disney movie where mice bake all day while singing about happiness and rainbows.

You can pick your flavour, pick your icing, pick your decorations, mix bubblegum with carrot cake and scatter sugar stars on top of it all. You can go for a vegan or gluten-free treat. Or pour pink sugar in your latte. 123 Cake provides you with all the tools you need – even tweezers to make sure you position your sugar heart right were it belongs. And if a cupcake is too small for your prolific mind, you can make a booking and get a full-sized cake.

Do not restrain yourself – it is all about having fun and enjoying the deliciousness. Who cares if your artwork has a vaguely phallic shape, or if the sugar puppy you stuck on top of your cake looks like it’s on drugs – nobody will judge you here.

By Amandine Thomas



Hillvale Photo Lab

Where: Dropboxes at Hillvale, 16 Black St, Brunswick and 1000 £ Bend, 361 Little Lonsdale St

When: Hillvale dropbox available 24 hrs. 1000 £

Bend dropbox available Mon–Wed 8am–11pm, Thu– Fri 8am–1am, Sat 10am–1am, Sun 10am–11pm.

The worst thing about developing film is going to places that develop film. Before, you had two options: navigate your way through the fluorescent-lit panic attack that is Big W, or go to a camera shop and deal with guys who want to sell you ‘gear’ or talk about their landscape photography. But now there’s Hillvale.

Hillvale is a photo lab run out of a garage in

Brunswick by Andrew Johnson and Jason Hamilton, two of the nicest guys in town. To get your film developed by them you can book an appointment by emailing develop@, keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for their random opening hours or, most easily, put your film in one of the dropboxes they’re installing at cafes in the city – at the moment, on top of the 24-hour box outside their lab, they’ve got one at 1000 £ Bend (to the left of the main bar). If you drop your film to their lab in person you can watch (from a comfortable Danish-designed couch) as it is processed and scanned in minutes. You can also check out their mini camera museum featuring a deep-sea diving camera that was probably used in a David Attenborough doco.

If you’re trying to develop or scan something different just talk to them – they’re pretty much film wizards who can magic anything.

By Heather Lighton


Shop Ramen

Where: 329 Smith St, Collingwood

When: Wed–Sun, lunch 12–2.30pm, dinner 5.30–10pm

“The thing about ramen is, no one will tell you exactly how to do it. We pretty much had to sit there and observe from the background,” explains Shop Ramen founder Pat Breen, speaking of his month-long stint in Japan with co-founder, Lydia Wegner. It was there that they gleaned what secrets they could from the ramen masters of the Universe, and all I can say is that they must have a damn keen eye for detail because their spicy miso ramen had me slurping and gobbling like a madman.

Some of you may know Pat from Eat This Food blog or his Shophouse ramen pop-up that temporarily took over Storm in a Teacup about six months ago. If you never ate there you may recall seeing long queues snaking down Smith Street at lunchtime and wondering why. Well this is the same stuff, only now they’ve had time to really research, tinker and improve on an already great thing. The menu has been expanded to include a vegie cashew milk ramen (vegan-friendly), tonkotsu ramen, dan dan ramen and the (mighty) spicy miso ramen. They’re also serving pork buns and smoked tofu buns, which can all be washed down with a salted caramel and coconut shake. All noodles are handmade fresh from wheat and rye with gluten-free rice noodle options on the way. They’re also hoping to get a liquor licence real soon.

By Sam West


Metropolis Bookshop

Where: Lvl 3, Curtin House, 252 Swanston St, Melbourne

When: Mon-Thu 10am-6pm, Fri 10am-7pm, Sat 10am-6pm, Sun noon-5pm

Contact: (03) 9663 2015

Even as an adult, a game that’s still fun to play is the ‘If I was rich’ game. If I was rich I’d have a room in my house made out of trampolines and a massive library made out of books from Metropolis. Hard cover books about architecture, art, design, photography and books about not much at all but that make you laugh and books all the books you have given to people as presents but really wanted to keep yourself.

But it’s also okay to be poor at Metropolis. For under 20 dollars you can buy pens that look like skeletons, notebooks that look like writer’s block and paperbacks that you can read and then tear up to plug the holes in the soles of your shoes. Metropolis is also the best place to wait for your friends (or dole day) to arrive with comfy leather seats specially designed for boney hipster bums.

By Chris Barton