South Yarra has witnessed much change over the past decade as the rising skyline has greatly influenced the local dynamic, bringing to it a positive influx of wealth, diversity and infrastructure. With a regular influx of new cafés and retail popping up in every nook and cranny the suburb has become a natural extension of the CBD – but with the added charm and personality that only local talent can contribute.
Bordered by equally spirited Prahran, Windsor and Toorak the lively main artery of Chapel Street sets the cultural and social tones, featuring a dazzling array of retails outfits, eateries and entertainment options. A thriving and bustling enclave, South Yarra is rightly considered a true Melbourne gem; happily leading the style charge but with enough sophistication to have a story to tell.
As much a melting pot as the rest of Melbourne, South Yarra is no exception and this wonderful fusion of cultures is widely reflected in the shopfronts and food outlets pervading the local area. Boasting a young and fairly affluent demographic, by day the streets swarm with young professionals feeding in from the strong local presence of the creative industry. At the weekends the local crowd heads out and off to brunch, as well as hitting the local shops and iconic markets. By night, the pavestones are crawling with tourists and locals alike all keen to sample the foodie treats and spinning turntables of the many local dance floors on crowded Chapel Street. Head slighter further away from this fray and there you will find the more leafy residential streets that make up some of Melbourne’s most expensive real estate.
What to do?
If you feel like Chapel Street is mentioned an awful lot, there is a very good reason as to why. A long continuous stretch of shopping, dining and entertainment options, there really is something for everyone. Featuring all your fashion faves and so much more, this street really sets the agenda for developing homegrown couture talent as well as featuring many of the international greats. And when the shopping is done, it’s time to play. Whether you’re a fitness guru, a die-hard clubber or simply crave food to die for, you will not be disappointed. Stretching right through Prahran down to Windsor, this is one street you will truly never get enough of. Film buffs will have to make some tough decisions. First up is The Jam Factory, originally a brewery before turning to the eponymous business of jam. Now an entertainment showcase boasting 15 screens, no added sugar is required. Alternatively, upgrade your viewing experience with Palace Platinum at the Palace Cinema Como, featuring boutique cinemas, fully reclining leather seats and a personalised waiting service with your choice of food and drinks available. Just don’t forget to watch the movie. Prahran Market is a popular foodie hangout proudly showcasing the finest range of fresh and organic local produce since 1864. Frequently playing host to celebrity chefs, the market celebrates all things food with a theatre-like atmosphere that will have you coming back for more.
Where to go?
As with all things Melbourne, it’s extremely hard to avoid excellent food and coffee wherever you turn – particularly so in South Yarra where the influx of young professionals has generated huge business for local retailers. If coffee beans, avo and açai are your thing, South Yarra has it in spades.
Look no further than Lleyton Hewitt’s fave stop-off Einstein’s Relative, serving up delicious locally-sourced fare with a middle eastern inspired twist. Immerse yourself in the experimental theme and try out the muffin and cookie hybrid, The Mookie! Feel good about your macchiato at The Final Step where a portion of all profits is donated to Food for Thought, an initiative that helps hungry children in Buenos Aires. Celebrating the common loaf and everything it stands for is Ned’s Bake. Revelling in the simplicity of a food item that draws us around the table and brings us all together, this is one café that makes no apology for doling out lashings of gluten in every bake. Two Birds One Stone combines urban trend with warmth and hospitality crafting many delicious offerings in-house, and for a piece of history in equine surrounds, try The Stables of Como for delicious fare with notes of the country.
When the lights go down in South Yarra, the pace picks up and the options are endless. Foodies will enjoy Miss Chu on Toorak Road, a hawker-style destination dishing out Vietnamese family recipes, or head to Thirty Eight Chairs for traditional Southern Italian cuisine as well as an authentic and wholesome experience. For Thai with a twist it has to be Rock Sugar where you will find the perfect Insta-worthy ‘rocktails’ alongside your share plates. Pizza lovers will already have discovered A25 where the ingredients take pride of place and you won’t be surprised to find some Berkshire sausage lurking amongst the rocket and mozzarella.
Out and about
When you fancy hitting the fresh air and leaving the books behind, South Yarra is well appointed for finding the action both near and far. Just 2 minutes walk from South Yarra Station (for direct access to Monash University) and 5 minutes bus ride from Hawksburn mainline station, the opportunities to explore beyond the city streets are unlimited with South Yarra’s new Metro station also opening in 2025. The Mornington Peninsula, The Great Ocean Road and The Yarra Valley are all must-see destinations when based in Victoria. Closer to home, Falkner Park provides 101 acres of much needed greenery with opportunities to picnic, pace, meander or observe. Try The Royal Botanical Gardens for a slice of inner-city oasis with convenient access to The Tan, a locally famous running route that circumnavigates the gardens. History buffs will enjoy nosing around Como House, once home to the highfalutin Armytage family. Still adorned with family heirlooms, this delightful window into past Melbourne society is immaculately preserved for our pleasure.
When living convenience is always King, South Yarra has a very long reign ahead.