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Best Retro Diners in Melbourne for a Taste of the Past

From decades-old institutions to late-night neighbourhood gems, these are the best retro diners in Melbourne.


When it comes to the deep-fried, cheesy goodness that is American cuisine, there really is no other place to go than a diner – and a retro one at that. While these time-warped beauties are becoming increasingly harder to find, when you’re in the mood for a good old-fashioned burger and shake, these flamboyant vintage joints are serving up a generous taste of the past. From pretty pastel milk bars and seventies inspired cabins to all-out fifties time capsules, these are the best retro diners in Melbourne that you need to see to believe.

Fried Hustle

Fried Hustle

Located in the heart of High Street Preston and run by an all-female team, Fried Hustle is a finger lickin’ destination that truly lives up to its name. It's also got a dreamy fit-out of terracotta and lavender, textural timber and mustard upholstery, evoking the nostalgia of a classic tuck shop or retro American diner. Vibrant plants and terrazzo benches dot the space and large orb pendants hang overhead. 

But back to the food. Specialising in Southern fried chicken, the casual, day to nighttime eatery serves up flavours that hit all the right notes. Think piles of buttermilk chicken tenders, delicious cheeseburger-loaded fries, homemade ice-cream sammies, fresh salads and Korean loaded nuggets (if you dig spice!). 90% of the menu is gluten-free and everything has a vegan option - including some seriously killer Southern fried cauliflower bites. The signature Fried Hustle burger is also a must-try. 

346 High Street, Preston

Good Times Milk Bar

Good Times Milk Bar

With an elevated reimagining of the beloved milk bars of yesteryear, good times are guaranteed at this retro-inspired café. Reviving a space previously inhabited by a ramshackle convenience store, it’s all pastel pinks and blues as diners dig into candied orange and mascarpone hotcakes, buttermilk fried chicken sandwiches and crispy tater tots. What would a trip to the local milk bar be without a milkshake? For a healthy side of sweet nostalgia, look no further than the Golden Gaytime.

83 Tucker Road, Bentleigh

Butcher's Diner

Butcher's Diner 

Butcher's Diner is a retro diner in Melbourne that gives nod to traditional American and Melbourne diners through the ages. Largely takeaway (but with bench room and small tables if you choose to stick around), go for the classic bacon cheeseburger, with a side of appropriately funky interiors. Coney Island chilli dogs, traditional grilled cheese, steak sandwiches and poutine are also on the menu, plus tasty beers, making this late night spot a favourite amongst the city set. 

10 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Evie's Disco Diner

Evie’s Disco Diner

Serving disco tunes and delicious vegan eats, Fitzroy’s buzzing 80s-themed diner will transport you to Stranger Things and back again, quicker than you can order a bloody Mary. Comfort food classics are the order of the day, and with meat and meat-free versions of NYC diner classics (plus one of the booziest bottomless brunches around), these guys aren’t messing around. So, don your best disco get up and get top tapping to Evie’s epic '80s tunes. 

230/232 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy 

Soda Rock

Soda Rock

It’s hard not to fall for Soda Rock’s charm with its memorabilia adorned walls, bow-tied staff and table jukeboxes. A one-of-a-kind dining experience, to step through the threshold of Melbourne’s most illustrious diner is to travel back in time to 1950s America. It serves, as you would hope, the heartiest of all-day breakfasts, burgers, hotdogs, sandwiches, shakes and nibbles. Originally opened as Johnny Rockets occupying the historic Capitol Bakery building, this animated venue can now be found inside the Jam Factory. Charmingly oblivious to the passing of time, it’s retro in every sense of the word and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

10/500 Chapel Street, South Yarra

Leonard's House of Love

Leonard’s House of Love

If the vintage furnishings and all-around extraordinary cabin décor at Leonard’s House of Love don't inspire awe, the decadent all-American menu surely will. Cheeseburgers slathered with blue cheese and ranch, fried cheese curds with pickles and chipotle mayo, creamy house-made Mac & Cheese – we could go on, but the point is, Elvis would very much approve. Loved for its bustling dog-friendly courtyard and appealing drinks specials, it’s a place to gather and enjoy a gold old chat, a crisp brew and a hearty bite. 

3 Wilson Street, South Yarra 



For a retro diner with a Melbourne twist, head straight to Easey’s. Serving the beer and burger crowd from a train carriage hoisted five storeys onto a Collingwood rooftop – this landmark venue is just about the most Melbourne thing ever. Novelty factor aside, this grungy charmer is known for dishing up hot and juicy burgers jampacked with all your favourite flavour combos – think double (or triple) smashed beef, bacon, American cheese, aioli, BBQ sauce and fried crispy bits or pulled pork, house slaw, BBQ sauce and pickles. Pair with a pint of Melbourne Bitter and you’ve got yourself the city’s signature feed.  

3/48 Easey Street, Collingwood



We see you Gum, place to throwback whilst throwing it back. Located in the heart of lower Johnston Street, this is your nostalgic yet new home away from home for all things cocktails, music and everything else in between.

The décor is a 70's dreamscape, but the drinks are fresh, with a seasonal cocktail menu, rotating natty wines and ice cold froths all on board to keep your refreshed. Feeling hungry? Get neighbouring Thin Slizzy's to deliver a pizza straight to the bar. 

Not only is Gum good for your mouth, but for your ears too. You can catch local and touring artists spinning records behind the decks, or live acts in the front bar.

173 Johnston Street, Collingwood 

Operator Diner

Operator Diner 

Enjoy classic breakfast staples like stacks of syrupy buttermilk pancakes, French toast and breakfast muffins, as well as specialty sandwiches with that Melbourne twist at this cosy and comfortable diner in the CBD. A smooth, uh, operator, Operator Diner provides a slick refresh on those ol' slice of Americana diner relics, and unashamedly so. Coffee is by Code Black Coffee Roaster, and house-made special drinks such as iced tea, lemonade and milkshakes will give you a hearty sense of recollection.

New but old school (and oh-so-cool), it's one of the best new retro diners in Melbourne, giving you an updated taste of the past (while still tasting darn good). Don't miss it. 

Shop 2/130 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

Old Palm Liquor

Old Palm Liquor

The team behind beloved retro-Euro spot Neighbourhood Wine have backed it up with another winner in Old Palm Liquor. A little less kitsch than your typical retro diner in Melbourne, this Lygon Street local boasts a comfortable, lived-in feel via panelled timber walls and vintage bar stools. The food follows suit swapping deep-fried delicacies with a seasonal tapas-style menu that changes daily.  There are 12 taps pouring a host of interesting local brewers, but the wine list is the main star – a powerhouse list covering every region and price point, with plenty of minimal intervention picks among them.

133B Lygon Street, Brunswick East 



Prim-and-proper Hawthorn East isn’t the kind of place you’d expect a rock’n’roll bar complete with a jukebox, free pool, and American cheeseburgers. Named after a Bruce Springsteen classic, the crew Rosalita’s is pouring local wines and eight rotating beers on tap alongside Americana inspired plates. The 50-person venue is decked out in op-shop knick-knacks, plants, and recycled timber, and also sports a bottle shop onsite that stocks rare spirits, low-intervention wines and craft beers sourced from across the world.

Level 2/72 Auburn Parade, Hawthorn East 

Made your way through the retro diners in Melbourne and looking for more delicious fare? Explore the best small bars to wine and dine at, or our favourite cake shops for an instant sugar fix.

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