Words by Ben Lamb
We’ve compiled the best bars and pubs in South Yarra on Chapel St and Commercial Road for enjoying some beer, wine, or cocktails, eating pub food, and catching live music, gigs or DJs.
Today we’re diving into the best bars and pubs in South Yarra, a suburb that’s up there with Melbourne’s best when it comes to nightlife and killer vibes.
There’s some highly-renowned wine and cocktail bars and beautiful, historic pubs across the suburb, from the classic pubs on Commercial Road to the brunch bars on Chapel Street. For the uninitiated, South Yarra is an old and storied Melbourne suburb. Originally home to the Wurundjeri tribe of the Kulin nation, South Yarra was one of the first suburbs settled by Europeans back in the 1830s, and soon after, wealthy socialites began transforming it into the highly-affluent suburb it is today.
You can check out Melbourne’s most comprehensive guides to the best bars and pubs in each suburb and street here.
Nowadays, South Yarra maintains a great balance between city and suburb, with gorgeous sprawling destinations like Fawkner Park and the Botanic Gardens, it can be a fantastic day-retreat to get away from it all. There’s some pretty important landmarks in South Yarra too; The Como Center is the hub for all things TV in Melbourne, housing studios for Network 10 shows like The Project and Have You Been Paying Attention?. It’s also home to Global Production’s HQ, where shows like The Chase and Dancing With The Stars eat to life.
In this detailed guide to its best drinking haunts and some of its nightlife pillars, we’ve got you covered with some classics you know and love, some fresh spots to check out, and some hidden gems you probably didn’t know about. If you’re a local, also check out the best bars and pubs in Prahran here, Windsor here, and Richmond here. If you’re keen to journey somewhere a little bit secret instead, check out our list of the best hidden bars.
Address: 517A Chapel St
Dedicated Menu: Snacks
Katuk’s a pretty cool place that you wish you’d heard about earlier. It’s in the heart of South Yarra, and is dedicated to killer service and even better drinks. Katuk’s focused on slinging some high-quality beverages for all types of drinkers, everything from a strawberry-basil mocktail to a glass of Argentinian Malbec.
Address: 119 Commercial Road
Vibe: Laid back
Dedicated Menu: Pub grub
The Osborne takes the coolest parts of pubs and chucks it into a pretty sick modern experience. Their outdoor fireplace makes the spot a great joint to head to year-round, so you can enjoy their killer pub grub like parmas and tacos.
Imperial South Yarra
Address: 522 Chapel St
Dedicated Menu: Cocktails and Pizzas
The Imperial brings some pretty awesome party vibes to the South Yarra region. It’s the kind of spot you’d head to for some dancing, or to enjoy a bit of live music. They’ve got mouth-watering fare on offer, there’s a bit of everything from pizzas to pies.
Speakeasy Kitchen Bar
Address: 359 Chapel St
Dedicated Menu: Mediterranean
As the name suggests, the Speakeasy Bar is a nod to the world of speakeasies in the US during prohibition. Unsurprisingly for a list of South Yarra bars and pubs, that’s not the case here, high quality, totally legal drinks are on offer. For these warmer months, there’s a mulled cider / wine, or even some cocktails if you’re feeling extra fancy. Check out the menu here.
Talk to me
Address: 153 Commercial Road
Vibe: New York-y
Dedicated Menu: Drinks
After a night in the city, Talk to Me is an awesome after party spot. They’ve got some regular cool events too. Every Wednesday, there’s speed dating, and every Thursday, there’s a uni night, where you can grab some killer deals on some bevs.
Ceiling Di Carolina
Address: 48 Toorak Rd
Dedicated Menu: French inspired
If you’ve got a big date on the cards, then South Yarra bars and pubs offer a few great option, among which Tetto Di Carolina is an excellent choice. The team is dedicated to giving some of the best service, and even better food and drinks. Their huge drinks list truly has something for everyone, before you check it out here, think of a drink, there’s almost no doubt they’ve got it.
Shadowboxer Bar and Kitchen
Address: 302 Toorak Rd
Dedicated Menu: Upper class foods and wines
Shadowboxer are doing the whole bar thing right. They’ve got a perfect wine list with some amazing Aussie selections, and a menu full of seasonal produce, so you’ll be sure you’re getting the highest quality stuff. They’ve also got some killer events spaces, perfect to hold those events that you missed out on in lockdown.
Zhou Zhou Bar
Address: 455 Chapel St
Dedicated Menu: Asian inspired
If the hustle and bustle of bar life isn’t your scene, Zhou Zhou is the spot for you. It’s an early 1900’s Shanghai themed establishment, complete with a whopping selection of around 50 Asian whiskies, and a bunch of brews from other corners of the globe.
Leonards House of Love
Address: 3 Wilson St
Vibe: Modern Melbourne
Dedicated Menu: Burgers
It sounds like something straight out of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and it certainly feels like that too. From the front, you’d think it’s just your ordinary townhouse, but once you head through the doors, a new world awaits. Make sure you chow down on their American cheeseburgers, which pair perfectly with their array of amazing beers.
Address: 383 Chapel St
Dedicated Menu: High class seasonal brunch + snacks
This is a fancy joint, the kind you’d take your parents to while they’re visiting. There’s some great quality wines on offer from some of Victoria’s most pristine wine regions, and beers from all corners of the state. On the food front, there’s some delicious items like crab crumpets, quinoa porridge or even your simple eggs on toast.
Address: 637 Chapel St
Dedicated Menu: Mexican inspired
Two wrongs do make a right when it comes to this bar. The food comes through hard and strong, there’s tacos galore with everything from a steak taco to a squishies chip taco, which includes some battered fries.
On the drinks end, there’s more cocktails than you can shake a stick at, all with some pretty wacky names, dive into the menu here.