Fitzroy and Collingwood

Terrace house dwellings and factories converted into trendy homes have made Fitzroy and Collingwood areas that are desirable by young, urban people.  Also, many of the early immigrants from Europe and Asia still live in these suburbs, making these areas a colourful and eclectic part of Melbourne.  It is a destination for artists, free spirited people and those who enjoy anything unconventional.

Fitzroy was the first suburb planned out when Melbourne was in its infancy.  It was home to working class people and many worked in MacPherson and Robertson’s thriving confectionary factory.  In the 1950s migrants from Italy, Macedonia and Ireland made their home in this area, followed by Vietnamese and Chinese.  Collingwood had grown alongside as the arrival of newcomers swelled the population.  

Fitzroy and Collingwood have a plethora of pubs for a small area and many of these are small establishments that offer great ‘counteries’, a local term for a pub meal, traditionally ordered and paid for at the counter.  Try some of the English influenced favourites such as a ploughman’s lunch, or a fresh baked pie or ‘bangers and mash’ or enjoy fusion, modern specialities.  Excellent cafes and restaurants abound in Fitzroy and Collingwood, there are too many to describe all of them.

Some consistent favourite restaurants would have to be, first, the celebrated Vege Bar on Brunswick Street.  You don’t need to be vegetarian to enjoy this restaurant and it is always packed with people waiting to get a table, from bohemian vegans to business people.  Then also on Brunswick Street, Marios Café is an award-winning restaurant with sometimes eccentric service, no ‘skinny milk’ but just good, heart-comforting Italian cuisine.  

Crossing Brunswick Street, Johnston Street is home to some good Spanish restaurants and it is home to the Spanish festival each year.  Amongst the many eateries in Smith Street, one café that is just off the main street in Oxford Street is worth mentioning as it has become a magnet for those who enjoy a good coffee and hearty and tasty food.  Proud Mary’s is so popular that it is not uncommon to wait with groups of eager customers until a table can be found, especially for those coming for a late Saturday morning breakfast.

Spanish, Italian, indigenous and vegetarian restaurants have already been noted, but in Fitzroy and Collingwood, there are many ethnic restaurants from Asian to Greek as well.  One of the most popular restaurants for Singaporean students is found at 70 Johnston Street, Collingwood, called The Old Raffles Place.  The décor is simple, but the food is authentically Singaporean.  Try the popular char kway teow followed by ice kachang for dessert.  Another worth mentioning on Johnston Street is the institution that is Jim’s Tavern.  There is no menu and no set prices. Take what is recommended by the waiters and have a fun evening eating saganaki, lamb cutlets, calamari, prawns or chicken in authentic Greek style.