Hidden Gems of Fitzroy
Written By: Jess Carey
I have an incurable case of wanderlust. I love nothing more than exploring new places, but no matter how far I travel, I can’t imagine calling anywhere but Melbourne home. With its melting pot of different cultures, everyone has their favourite suburb. For me, the Fitzroy-Collingwood area, an area less traveled by visitors, is the suburb that has my heart.
Fitzroy is not just a collection of geographic boundaries. Rather, it reflects a state of mind and a way of life. The area’s carefree vibe, trendy bars, restaurants and endless second hand and vintage shops attract like-minded residents and locals to the neighbourhood.
Photo Source: Jess Carey
A few hidden treasures around Fitzroy that may have escaped your radar include:
- Rose Street Artists’ Market (60 Rose St, Fitzroy) This open-air market has become a Fitzroy institution. Tucked down a little side street off the popular Brunswick Street, the market, which takes place every Saturday and Sunday, showcases the work and wares of local up-and-coming artists and designers. Save for the A-frame sign staffed by an eccentric, bearded, leather clad man yelling out to passers-by, the market is not advertised; Rose Street Artists’ Market is the place to acquire delicate jewelry, quirky works of art or hand-crafted flatware.
- Caz Reitop’s Dirty Secrets (80 Smith St, Collingwood) An inconspicuous little bar full of dark corners Caz Reitop’s Dirty Secrets has an old-world speakeasy feel with its flickering candles and magnificent cocktails. On a cold winter night, this spot is the perfect place to snag a booth and catch up with friends.
- Books for Cooks (233 Gertrude St, Fitzroy) Serious food lovers own Books for Cooks, an independent bookshop in Fitzroy. Its old wooden floorboards creak as customers walk from shelf to shelf while browsing its 30,000+ titles on foreign language cookbooks and books on international cuisine, to food science and everything in between.
- Memorabilia on Smith (269 Smith St, Fitzroy) Overflowing with fascinating trinkets from yesteryear, Memorabilia on Smith is rather unique and slightly chaotic vintage shop in the neighbourhood. While AFL (Australian Rules Football) memorabilia tends to dominate the stock, one can also find old Arnott’s biscuit tins, glass Coke bottles, vintage train signs and Pez dispensers. Be sure to dig around to find a keepsake in your price range.
- Los Amates Mexican Kitchen (34 Johnston St, Fitzroy) Los Amates is one of the few places where you can find genuine Mexican food in the city. The restaurant’s exterior is not much to look at, which means it often gets passed by, but Los Amates has established a cult following with locals who know its whereabouts. Its vibrantly painted walls are lined with carvings, paintings and other paraphernalia from Mexico giving the space an exotic yet homely feel at the same time.
- Street Art First time visitors to Fitzroy rarely stray from the neighbourhood’s main arteries of Brunswick, Smith or Gertrude Street. Hidden gems like Fitzroy’s street art are bound to be missed. If you look off the beaten path, the area is filled with wall murals, tiny sticker art and political pieces which are worth the look.
- Grub Street Bookshop (1/379 Brunswick St, Fitzroy) Every time I’m in Fitzroy I stop in and visit Grub Street Bookshop. The shop specializes in second hand books and it’s rare that I leave empty handed. Here, you’ll find, old travel books, vintage cookbooks and rare first editions.
- Aunt Maggie’s (188 Gertrude St, Fitzroy) Aunt Maggie’s is a grocery store that stocks quality produce and ingredients for every dietary regime under the sun. With five locations in Melbourne, the store offers a variety of pantry staples and endless options for fresh food. Also well worth the visit is its delicious dine-in café and personalized customer service.
- in.cube8r gallery (321 Smith St, Fitzroy) This gallery may be small in size, but it makes up for its size in talent! The space is divided into partitions and glass cubes and enables Australian artists to showcase their work and handmade goods. The gallery passes 100% of sales back to the artist, so customers feel great about purchasing artwork, jewelry and accessories from this space.
- Vegie Bar (380 Brunswick St, Fitzroy) Vegie Bar isn’t a hidden treasure – it’s a Fitzroy stalwart. For 20 years, Vegie Bar has been serving internationally inspired meat-free dishes, long before vegetarianism was “cool” and “clean eating” took over. Line ups out the door are not an uncommon sight at this elbow-to-elbow, communal eating, lively place.