The working-class multicultural hub has become one of Melbourne’s hippest with a new wave of backalley bars, cool cafés and street art.
The best restaurants and cafés
Melbourne’s café revolution is in full swing at this buzzing haunt, where dishes such as duck egg and potato hash or a Guatemalan feast of feta scrambled eggs, black beans, salsa and corn tortilla straddle the breakfast/lunch divide with ease.
Harley & Rose
Pizza, pasta and natural wines triangulate for good times at the WeFo (West Footscray) end of Barkly Street, thanks to two chefs who learned the ropes under Melbourne super-chef Andrew McConnell. Equally friendly to bearded hipsters and the ’burb’s tribe of families, Harley & Rose is the go-to spot for laid-back Italian bites such as gorgonzola croquettes, smoked-brisket pastrami and charry Neapolitan pies.
It’s an old-time pub with a newschool makeover. The Plough has kept the charms of a front bar where tap beer flows freely on game days (Whitten Oval, home to the Western Bulldogs, is just up the road) and a bistro fit for the latest breed of restaurant aficionados thanks to a menu covering the bases of a best-inshow parmigiana, classic beef tartare and Middle Easternaccented sardines.
The best bars
Hop Nation Brewing Co
A 19th-century factory where soap and ammunition were once made has turned into an atmospheric brewhouse in the backblocks of the suburb. Hop Nation is a destination for diehards and dabblers alike, who roll up for beer-tasting paddles of barrel-aged brews. Hungry? Food trucks turn up regularly or you can simply BYO nibbles.
Back Alley Sally's
Follow the tattooed hordes down an alleyway and up the stairs to the city’s ultimate dive bar. Decked out in Astroturf, strings of lights and industrial grunge, the sprawling Back Alley Sally’s has the dial set to rollicking fun with local beers such as Two Birds and Hop Nation.
Things to do
Call it a walk of art. Footscray’s thriving aerosol scene rivals the famed laneways of the CBD. Amid an ever-changing landscape (go for a wander along Trugo Lane and Mechanics Way), Mongolian-born artist Heesco’s award-winning Ms Citizen of the World mural at Victoria University has become a local landmark.