In the mood for a spontaneous wine and dine? What about an ice-cold frothy? Don’t have a booking? No worries.
As we scoot out of lockdown, nights out on the town have become hot property. A spot at the bar or a table for two has taken on a new veneer of inaccessibility for those of us who somehow always seem to leave their plans to the very last minute. While preparedness is a virtue, sometimes it just don’t be like that.
Before you attempt a hopeful but doomed sweep of the area for possible vacancies, only to throw in the towel when the venture inevitably tires you out, we’re here to tell you there is hope. Many friendly locals are operating on a walk-ins only base, meaning wherever you’ve found yourself, there’s sure to be a lovely little watering hole nearby – if you know where to look.
While the plethora of spaces offering walk-ins is promising, venues still have to abide by capacity restrictions, so there’s a chance it may get a little hairy on the weekends and warm nights. If you’re feeling unsure, best practise is to just call ahead.
Marios – Fitzroy
We are so grateful for Marios. Delicious Italian cuisine, all-day breakfast and charming service. Their walk-ins only operational style coupled with an extended al-fresco dining area ensures you’ll only wait about fifteen minutes for a table. Did we mention their excellent coffee? An absolute gem in the heart of Fitzroy, Marios is a laidback and distinctly comforting experience, whether it’s a destination or a spot on the way for a quick bite and vini. They’ll always have a table for you and it’s always worth the tiny wait.
Find Marios at 303 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
Kitty Somerset – Northcote
A gorgeous local favourite with friendly bar staff and a cozy, classy atmosphere. Excellent cocktails and fantastic vibes inside and outside, in their green little courtyard. Kitty is operating on a walk-ins only basis, meaning your chances of scoring a spot are pretty solid.
Find Kitty Somerset at 565 High Street, Northcote.
Thin Slizzy – Collingwood
If it’s a casual few slices you’re after, Thin Slizzy has what you need and then some with their a huge menu of music-themed pizzas. While they’re operating on a walk-ins basis during the week, you will need to book ahead for weekends. If you like to wash down your pizza with a beer or cocktail, good news: they’ll be evolving to include a bar soon. Until then, you can attempt Thank You Bar nearby. Thank You isn’t strictly walk-in friendly, but might have a little spot for you if you’re lucky.
Find Thin Slizzy at 115 Johnston Street, Collingwood.
View this post on Instagram
Mr Wilkinson – East Brunswick
With a deliciously extensive pizza menu and well-stocked bar, Mr Wilkinson is there for you whether you’re in the mood for food, drinks or both. Offering locally-sourced ingredients, craft beers and a darling, roomy courtyard, Mr Wilkinson is a destination. When it comes to their pizza, it’s all in the cold-ferment dough, and Mr Wilkinson does it exceptionally well.
Find Mr Wilkinson at 295 Lygon Street, East Brunswick
The Tote/Polly’s Burgers – Collingwood
You can always count on the Tote for an ice-cold pint in the beer garden. Luckily, they’re walk-in friendly and you can bank on getting a spot. Inside you’ll find Polly’s Burgers, offering inventive plant-based burgers and providing the duality we like to see in the neighbourhood. Burgers and beer have always gone hand-in-hand, haven’t they?
Sit back, relax, eat and reminisce on the wild bandroom nights of the past.
Find The Tote/Polly’s Burgers at 61-71 Johnston Street, Collingwood.
Yellow Bird – Windsor
Ice cold beers and all-day breakfast, what more could you need? How about divine Mexican food? A table for five on short notice? Spacious and eclectic Yellow Bird Cafe has you covered on all fronts.
Find Yellow Bird at 122 Chapel Street, Windsor.
View this post on Instagram
Napier Quarter – Fitzroy
Perfect coffee, beautiful wine and artisanal snacks make Napier Quarter the ideal spot for a tranquil catch-up or solo date. Nestled in the heart of Fitzroy, Napier Quarter embodies everything a neighbourhood favourite should be.
Find Napier Quarter at 359 Napier Street, Fitzroy.
Radio Mexico – St Kilda
If fantastic tacos, impressive share plates and margaritas are what you’re hungry for, Radio Mexico has you covered. Their menu is mostly gluten-free, making it a perfect spot for bigger groups with varying dietary requirements. Even better, their two-for-one margarita Mondays will keep you quenched and boozy all summer long.
Find Radio Mexico at 11-13 Carlisle Street, St Kilda.
The Rainbow Hotel – Fitzroy
Old faithful The Rainbow has been consistently walk-in friendly since probably forever. Laidback yet attentive staff, very good pub food and a spacious courtyard makes for the perfect spot for a good time. If you’re feeling unsure about your chances of a beer garden experience, don’t forget, the Rainbow is always there for you.
Find The Rainbow Hotel at 27 St David Street, Fitzroy.
View this post on Instagram
The Retreat Hotel – Brunswick
Another old favourite which always has a spot for you. The huge space ensures it’s a destination for whatever size group you’re rolling with. Great pub food, great atmosphere, and plenty of seats, always.
Find The Retreat Hotel at 280 Sydney Road, Brunswick.
Tusk – Windsor
For a last-minute brunch, Tusk is the answer. With an extensive breakfast and brunch menu, nice vibes and huge outside dining area, the Windsor cafe is a good spot to sit back, relax and people watch.
Find Tusk at 133 Chapel Street, Windsor.
Heartattack and Vine – Carlton
After consistently supplying the community with the copious amounts of coffee needed to cope with the lockdown, local mainstay Heart Attack and Vine have finally reopened their dining areas. Perfect for coffee and a croissant, or perhaps a gourmet sandwich, if that’s more your style. Evolving into a wine bar in the afternoons, their outdoor seating area is the quintessential spot for an evening vini in Carlton.
Find Heartattack and Vine at 329 Lygon Street, Carlton.
Never miss a story. Sign up to Beat’s newsletter and you’ll be served fresh music, arts, food and culture stories three times a week.