Kooinda Boutique Brewery
A 15-minute walk from La Trobe's Bundoora campus, among a maze of industrial estates, sits what at first looks like a used furniture warehouse. Enter and you'll see fermenters bubbling behind thirsty students and local workers, eating from a food truck that rotates weekly. Award-winning craft beers, some of which can only be found here, make it the perfect end to the week. Open Fridays 5pm-midnight; happy hour with $12 jugs, 5pm-7.30pm.
28 Culverlands Street, Heidelberg West, 9440 5426, kooinda.com.au
As a sponsor of more than 20 Melbourne University sporting and drama clubs, the Clyde is a pub that likes to get involved. That's why you'll see a steady stream of students gravitating towards the long bistro, which transforms into a live jazz room on Sundays, or the spacious beer garden out the back for those "missing" class. Join local tradies in the front bar for pub fare, plus some more exotic dishes including an excellent duck burger ($16.50)
385 Cardigan Street, Carlton, 9347 1874, theclydehotel.com.au
Dancing Dog Cafe
When Victoria University students and locals need a coffee fix they head to this sprawling arts venue that doubles as a yoga studio, gallery, live performance hub and comedy den. At night, coffee is replaced by sangria, fairy lights are turned on and the menu focuses on shared dishes such as nachos ($10) and Mexican pizza ($10).
2A Albert Street, Footscray, 9689 2566, dancingdog.com.au
With not be a bar on campus at Australian Catholic University, but with an array of choices on its doorstep, the Gertrude has done well to become the unofficial hangout for students and staff. A focus on craft beers (36 taps pouring 16 different brews), and a menu that suits them, including a range of sausages especially made by 5 Mile Creek Butcher & Delicatessen (served in a bun, $10), has it buzzing every day. Their footpath tables are prime hipster viewing, and a complete renovation of their relatively unknown rooftop beer garden was completed last week.
148 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 9419 2823, thegertrudehotel.com.au
Sahara Restaurant & Bar
Behind an assuming door and up 96 steps sits a tranquil rooftop that the RMIT fraternity has made their own. "We reward them with tagine or a cocktail when they get to the top," manager Rhys Hinrichsen says. It's a diverse space over three floors, with a restaurant on the first, and cocktail lounge (order the "Sahara Pomegranate") on the second. Specialising in North African cuisine, try the camel sausages ($9.50) or the Moroccan-inspired lunch specials, like the lamb and vegetable tagine ($17).
1/301 Swanston Street, CBD, 9663 8477, saharamelbourne.com.au