From waterfront spots to buzzing laneway eateries and a unique brewery experience, here’s how to make the most of Geelong’s thriving culinary scene.
Victoria’s second largest city is just a quick drive or ferry ride from Melbourne, and has a wining and dining scene to match. Make a beeline for its breezy beachfront cafes; the cafes, delis and restaurants packed into the vibrant strip of Pakington Street; and the laneway eateries and bars of Little Malop Street. Here are our picks of places to eat and drink.
Occupying a prime waterfront spot in a former beach pavilion, The Beach House is a slick new addition to Geelong’s culinary scene that comes courtesy of the Mulberry Group – the Melbourne hospitality pros responsible for converting some of the city’s most interesting heritage buildings into its hottest brunch spots, including The Kettle Black and Higher Ground.
This light and breezy 120-seater cafe and kiosk, with interiors by Studio Esteta, serves everything from toasted banana bread with whipped ricotta and strawberry jam to BLTs and avocado on toast to good old-fashioned fish and chips with tartare sauce.
Another new addition to Geelong’s ever expanding culinary scene, The Arborist is the latest addition to Little Malop Street: the buzzy laneway precinct that has emerged as Geelong’s coolest spot to eat and drink.
True to its name, The Arborist’s interior design takes its cues from the ash tree growing at its centre; the result is sustainable and beautiful, all rendered in natural tones of green, cream and timber.
Guests can tuck into small, medium or large plates with Middle Eastern hints: think white anchovy with muhammara and grilled sourdough; spice-roasted pumpkin with zhoug, crushed seeds and coriander; and roasted chicken, parsnip purée, braised silverbeet and white beans.
Also a relative newcomer to Little Malop Street, The Continental brings an Italian vibe to Geelong: Art Deco lighting, a vintage coffee machine and waiters in crisp, classic jackets lends a post-war European ambience.
Head here for cocktails and bar snacks; dinner selected from a share menu chalked up on the blackboard; or a finely crafted Sunday lunch washed down with wine from an Italian and French wine list.
With its exposed brickwork, squishy leather sofa and rustic open fireplace, Geelong Cellar Door, Geelong’s local wine bar and store, also exudes old-world charm.
It makes for the perfect place to showcase the cool-climate wine of the Greater Geelong region; enjoy a glass or two alongside an array of cheeses and charcuterie platters or a sampling of the region’s local craft beers and ciders. Look out for events like Sangria Sunday or regular wine tastings. And once you’ve settled on a wine you love, buy a bottle to take home with you.
Little Green Corner is a gem of a cafe with sustainability at its core. Its fruit, vegetables and eggs are sourced from its owners’ small family farm and its commitment to cutting waste sees it receiving its milk in stainless steel pails, rather than cartons, and syrups made from excess fruit and ferments.
Its nourishing menu changes with the seasons and the local region’s gardens and farms. Little Green Corner also hosts foodie workshops, including gnocchi, pasta and sourdough-making and sessions in collaboration with local producers such as Crucible Cider and Drysdale Cheese.
Stretching from the hip hood of Newtown on the Barwon River up to Geelong West, Pakington Street is a vibrant strip that’s jam-packed full of eateries. Among them is King of the Castle, based out of a dining room with warehouse vibes and lots of greenery at the northern end.
You’ll find excellent coffee and an extensive breakfast, brunch and lunch menu covering off everything from Thai eggs with roti bread, bacon and halloumi slicked with chilli jam and roasted sesame to brioche French toast, blueberry ricotta hotcakes and fried buffalo chicken burger.
Produce is sourced from local suppliers and there’s also an inventive vegetarian and vegan selection including tofu scramble and crispy cauliflower and avocado tacos, plus an array of raw cakes and desserts.
Further down Pakington Street, 63 Degrees is a bright and happy cafe decked out with pastel hues and festoon lighting and a colourful menu to match. Like most of its Geelong neighbours, the emphasis here is on clean eating and sustainably sourced produce.
Its seasonal all-day breakfast and lunch menus might see you tucking into Portuguese baked eggs or a Mexican pulled chicken and super grains ‘clean bowl’. Alternatively, choose from the vegan menu and sink yourself into a decadent plant-based smoothie like the Snickers – with peanut butter, raw cocoa, almond milk, almond flakes and banana.
Pakington Street is also home to Geelong’s award-winning, hole-in-wall restaurant, Tulip. The interiors here are minimal, modern and relaxed – all the better for enjoying lunch or dinner with a focus on produce-driven dishes that celebrate all things local and sustainable.
The share-plate based menu changes frequently and could include such smaller dishes as fried school prawns with smoked garlic mayonnaise and artichokes with button mushroom and grilled radicchio; and larger dishes like salt-baked celeriac, pickled red cabbage, burnt apple and saltbush or fish with kipfler potatoes, leek, smoked mussels and sea parsley. Pair your meal with your choice of wine from an all-Victorian wine list.
Open for lunch and dinner daily, Wah Wah Gee is a lively dining destination overlooking the water at the end of Cunningham Pier.
Here, it’s all about gathering your friends for a flavourful journey through Asian-inspired sharing dishes: think platters of spicy steamed buns, dumplings in zesty broths and hearty curries, filling poke bowls and cumin-roasted lamb shanks.
Or, follow the neon signs upstairs to Wah Bah for cocktails and bao buns with a view.
Head to Little Creatures’ east coast home (the craft brewers hail from WA’s Fremantle, where they operate out of a former crocodile farm), for a unique brewery experience in a converted old flour mill.
This village-like beer factory presents all sorts of possibilities for visitors: head to the colourful Canteen where you can sample the selection of pale ales, IPAs and more and tuck into a wood-fired pizza; go to the White Rabbit Barrel hall for a specialty beer in the heart of the brewery; or take a behind the scenes brewery tour.