Degraves Street needs another eatery like a Melburnian caffeine addict needs a second double espresso. What this little laneway does need, however, is a cosy, unpretentious restaurant that serves up high-quality lunch specials. Enter la citta. The weekday lunchtime specials (bowl of pasta and glass of complimentary wine for AU$18.50/ S$22) satisfy the business-meeting lunchers, while the mouthwatering tapas menu and wine selection tempt shoppers looking to rest and refuel. The home-made European cakes are delicious with coffee – double espresso, of course.
Where: 11 Degraves Street
Contact: +61 3 9014 8824; www.lacitta.net.au
For most business owners, it’s all about location, location, location. For the owners of Basement Discs, it’s ‘to share our knowledge and love of music’. Nice. They failed to add, ‘…to those customers with a built-in GPS system.’ To find this subterranean music mecca, walk past the Block Parade cafés and keep your eye out for number 24 and a staircase. Inside, friendly staff armed with mindboggling levels of music knowledge will make all your record dreams come true. On the off chance they don’t stock what you’re looking for, you can put in an order; after 15 years in the business, there are not too many musical requests the employees haven’t heard. Visit on Fridays at around lunchtime to catch free live-music sessions.
Where: Basement Discs, 24 Block Place
Contact: +61 3 9654 1110
On my first accidental stumble into 1000 £ Bend, I thought I had timewarped back to my grandparents’ garage-cum-dining room circa 1985; apart from the coffee machine sitting proudly in the corner and a specials blackboard, the similarities are uncanny, right down to the 1960s velvet sofas. Fast-forward to a much cooler version of my grandparents’ favourite room and you’ll find a mish-mash of café-meets-bar-meets-gallery with everything in between. Once permits have been approved, Melbourne’s newest hybrid space will swing into full action later this year with lunchtime live-music sessions, film screenings, launches and more.
Where: 361 Little Lonsdale Street.
Being hidden downstairs with hats as your only product sounds like a tough sell, but after being in business for 99 years, it’s clearly not the case. City Hatters has rows and rows of old-school Akubra hats (from AU$135/S$162), as well as novelty hats like Mexican sombreros (from AU$185/S$220) and Napoleon-style admiral’s hats (AU$225/S$270). The shop is frequented by a coterie of older gentlemen who look as though they know a thing or two about millinery – and have been shopping here since the place opened.
Where: 211 Flinders Street
Contact: +61 3 9614 3294
Shoved away at the end of an alley, this cramped space at first seems ill-conceived. That’s until the rows of neatly arranged postmodern toys catch your eye. From the bar’s kooky, quirky, manga-inspired decor you can tell that Mr Robot Sushi put in a lot of effort for your viewing pleasure. Go nuts on the enhanced Atari 2600.
Where: 12 Bligh Place
Contact: +61 3 9620 3646; www.robotsushi.com