We’re in Melbourne for the 2013 World Barista Championship, our first visit to this splendid city. How do you write a guide for a city if you’ve never been? Easy. We polled a dozen Melbourne residents and frequent visitors with excellent taste on their very favorite places to eat, drink, and have a coffee around town. Read more features like this one in our Melbourne Sprudge Guides hub!

Melbourne is one heck of a classy town, with world class restaurants, gorgeously fitted cafes and brunch palaces, and no shortage of classy establishments at which to enjoy classic cocktails and sublime wines. But you know what? Sometimes you just need a pub. Sometimes jeans and hoodie need to be okay. Sometimes you want a burger and a beer, and you don’t want to break the bank.

You do you, that’s what we always say. So here’s a list of some of Melbourne’s finest pubs and local haunts, where the air is never fussy, and if you hang ’round long enough everyone will know your name.

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The Standard – One of Melbourne’s classic laneway pubs, The Standard was home to a very hip record label in the 1990’s, and today sports authentic mid-century ephemera decor and a by-all-accounts gorgeous outdoor garden. Beer, wine, pub grub til late (sausage rolls!), and not an ounce of nonsense. (293 Fitzroy St, Fitzroy)

The Beaufort – We visited the Beaufort on our first night out in Melbourne, on the overwhelming recommendation of several poll responders. She’s a charmer, alright, situated on the corner of a long, palm tree studded boulevard you could easily mistake for Dolores Street in San Francisco. The vibe feels like the Mission District, too, or maybe SE Portland, or Bushwick, or you get the picture. A dive by presentation but not by menu, as the Beaufort sports a deep, well-considered Scotch selection (!) plus inventive beer cocktails and loads of American bourbons. This is clearly one of Melbourne’s young, hip after-work shared spaces, and quite popular with baristas. We loved it! (421 Rathdowne St, Carlton)

Huxtaburger / Bill’s Bar – Melbourne is, improbably, something of a hamburger town, and several people mentioned Huxtaburger as being home to one of the city’s best. They have gluten free buns, a jalapeno and sriracha mayo option, and a fun pub ’round back where every last pour of liquor – from fancy Scotch to cheap hooch – goes for $9 a pour. Lots of bar snacks, too, and we could go on and on, but this place sounds awesome. (106 Smith Street, Collingwood)

The Alderman – A relaxed local in Brunswick East with a dog-friendly beer garden, and Sicilian takeaway available from the spot next door. A living room for the Brunswick neighborhood, simple and pleasant. (134 Lygon Street, Brunswick East)
The Long Play – We’re double-recommending this one from our “fancy” drinks guide, because you can go fancy or go mellow at Long Play with equal equivalence. Plus there’s a tiny movie theater located in the back of the bar, and that’s really, really cool. (318 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North)
Prudence – North Melbourne institution located within spitting distance of the Queen Victoria Market, and thus home to an abundance of people watching and things to do on your way to and from the bar. One of our poll responders recommended ordering African food from the spot next door and enjoying it inside the bar. Broadsheet calls it “homely” and “cluttered”, and we’re fairly sure they meant it as a compliment. (368 Victoria Street, North Melbourne)
Gerald’s Bar – Another Melbourne institution, this time on Rathdowne St in Carlton. Wines by the glass change daily depending on what they’ve opened that night, and the menu is written on a sheet of brown paper put across a library ladder that slides up and down the bar. Sounds fun! (386 Rathdowne St, Carlton)
Sweet Water Inn – A new addition to the scene, based in southeast Melbourne, the Sweet Water is a modern take on nostalgic country Australiana. If you’re looking for an Aussie bar experience that “feels Australian” – whatever that means to you – go here. $5 cans of Fosters, great bloody Mary’s, and a eucalyptis Tom Collins are all highlighted by the Broadsheet write-up.   (60 Bray St, South Yarra)

Napier Pub – A classic warm and inviting Melbourne Pub, displaying a casual English influence by dint of the crackling fireplaces, strong brews and hearty food. It’s fall here, and so doesn’t a bit of comfort food and a fireplace sound nice?  (210 Napier St, Fitzroy)

Union Hotel – Another solid pub destination infused with character, boasting a beer garden, bar, and dining room. One of our responders loved the “slouchy couches” and mellow music. Sounds like a lounging spot that isn’t, you know, a “lounge” spot. (164 Gore Street, Fitzroy

Loop back ’round to our Melbourne info portal, why don’t you? Good on ya!

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