A guide to all the hidden gems on offer in Geelong and its surrounds
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06.07.2022

A guide to all the hidden gems on offer in Geelong and its surrounds

Words by Mackenzie Pennycook

Whether it’s hidden in plain sight or just plain hidden, Geelong has some of the best-hidden gems to uncover. 

Geelong is rife with hidden gems that are set to excite tourists and locals alike. Some of the best-kept secrets are hidden in plain sight.

From speakeasy-style bars, restaurants nestled down quiet laneways and gallery exhibitions, in the most unassuming places there’s always something new to uncover and discover. 

18th Amendment Bar

Nestled within a hole in the wall on Little Malop Street, 18th Amendment is the place to go if you’re after extravagant cocktails and a speakeasy feel.

An unassuming door followed by a dingy feeling staircase opens up to a huge dimly lit cocktail bar that aims to give patrons a feel for bars during the prohibition era. If candlelight, complimentary popcorn and truly next-level bevvies is your thing, 18th is the place to head. Their drinks aren’t just drinks, they’re experiences. Whether it’s a cocktail hidden in a treasure box, or a drink served with a huge bubble on top if you’re wanting to truly impress with a hidden gem, 18th Amendment is the place.

There are heaps of drinks to choose from, with their specialty cocktails being the true main attraction. Whether you’re a lover of something sweet and fruity or perhaps more of a whiskey lover there’s something for everyone at 18th Amendment. 

You can find 18th Amendment hidden in a hole in the wall on Little Malop street at, 82A Little Malop Street, Geelong. 

Medusa Bar

A newbie to the Geelong scene, Medusa is one of Geelong’s best-kept secrets. If you’re after DJs spinning vinyl, movie nights and some seriously unreal happy hour specials Medusa should be at the top of your list.

Nestled down the end of the iconic Rock O’Cashel Lane behind a heritage-listed façade sits Medusa, the brainchild of the legends behind Valhalla (and their selection of Valhalla deliciousness on tap proves that). Whether you’re after a midweek drink, an afternoon knockoff or you want to catch the resident DJs spinning vinyl on the weekends, Medusa is the place. They have some unreal drink specials including $2 pots on Wednesdays and Sundays (that’s a drink that costs less than a cup of coffee), weekend cocktail happy hours that include 12 buck specialty cocktails and free baskets of hot chips with every bottle of wine on Thursdays.

Medusa is the perfect place if you’re after some of the best deals and the best vibes in Geelong. It’s a Melbourne hidden bar feel right on our doorstep. 

Medusa is located at 2 Rock O’Cashel Lane, Geelong

 

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Kosaten

If you’re a fan of all things sushi train, Kosaten is the place for you.

Kosaten is the Japanese restaurant that’s hidden in plain sight right on Ryrie Street. Heavily tinted windows and a dark interior make Kosaten nearly completely hidden from the outside, the only aspect that alludes to the magic that happens inside its doors is an unassuming black sign above the entryway that is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

Kosaten is Geelong’s only sushi train, but it’s a sushi train with a twist. Instead of watching endless options meander past your booth, desperately waiting for one that takes you a fancy and praying the table ahead of you don’t snatch up your sushi, Kosaten has you ordering on an iPad, with all good and drinks delivered via train to your table. Their sushi is ultra-fresh, with traditional dishes like sashimi, hand rolls and gyoza all gracing the menu. There are also some more modern tales that are not to be missed at your visit. The tempura prawn nigiri with apple Mayo is next level, as is the slow-cooked pork belly, there are even pulled pork croquettes topped with fried sweet potato ribbons, there’s something for everyone at Kosaten with an entire section of their menu being dedicated to the vegos.

Kosaten is suitable for everyone, be it a date night or a night with the kids. 

You can find Kosaten at  110 Ryrie Street, Geelong. Just make sure you look carefully.

 

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Mavs

Hidden off Little Malop sits the authentic Greek restaurant of your dreams. Mavs is Geelong’s ONLY authentic Greek restaurant and its more secretive location makes it one of Geelong’s best-kept secrets.

Open for both lunch and dinner, you can get your Greek feast at any time, day or night. There are heaps of entrees and starters to choose from including house-made dips, dolmades, halloumi, saganaki, spanakopita and a whole lot more as well as a whole bunch of fresh seafood options and entrée-sharing options if you’re going to Mavs with a group. There are fan favourites gracing the menu including open plate lamb gyros, souvlakis, moussaka, and lamb cutlets. If you’re a vego, Mavs have you covered with stuffed capsicums and veggie pasta sure to satisfy the vegan or vegetarian in your life.

If you’re going to Mavs with at least four people you’re also able to indulge in a banquet. There’s lunch banquets and dinner banquets to choose from, all chock full of dips, pita bread, saganaki, calamari, lamb and chicken gyros and HEAPS more.

Mavs is hidden behind Beavs Bar and can be hunted down via an unassuming blue sign located on Little Malop. If you love Greek food and you’re looking for authentic, delicious, and fresh food right at your doorstep look no further than Mavs. 

You can find Mavs at 73A Little Malop Stree, Geelong. 

Analogue Academy

If you’re after local art exhibitions and great coffee look no further than Analogue Academy.

The venue which is best known for developing film from disposable cameras (very old school) is also known locally for slinging delicious coffees. On top of snagging a coffee, you can also nearly always catch a local art display. Analogue showcases a whole bunch of local artists, you can normally catch everything from photography, poetry, drawings, and paintings from different local legends. If the coffee and an exhibition aren’t enticing enough there are also board games for you and your boo, so you can sip on your coffee and enjoy a spot of chess while soaking in the artwork from the local talent. They even have whiskey nights that are perfect for whiskey connoisseurs and newbies alike.

To stay up to date with upcoming shows, exhibitions, and whiskey evenings head to their socials @analougeacademy. 

You can find Analogue Academy at 23 Cuzens Place, Geelong. 

 

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Hue and Cry Collective

If you’re a sucker for local art but you’re not quite sure where to find it never fear, The Hue and Cry collective is another local gallery that is lesser known in the Geelong region.

The space showcases a range of works from several exceptionally talented Geelong creatives. You can get your fix of photography, poetry, acrylic paintings, sculpture works and pretty much any medium you can think of. In addition to being a gallery, there is also an art store at The Hue and Cry Collective so you can support the artists and take home your very own pieces.

With supporting local artists at the heart of this venue, Hue and Cry Collective is also a collective studio space. With heaps of artists from a whole lot of mediums working on their art in collaborative studio spaces. If you’re a local artist and you’ve been looking for a spot to learn and create you can apply to be considered for a studio space via the website. You can also use the website to have a suss at the upcoming exhibitions and the type of art that the Hue and Cry collective have currently on offer. 

Whether you’re an art lover or just a local looking to experience something different, Hue and Cry Collective has you covered. 

You can find the Hue and Cry Collective at 64-66 Ryrie Street, Geelong. 

Rossco’s

A Geelong West hidden gem, Rossco’s is the place if you’ve been craving an old-school milk bar salad sandwich.

An unassuming white storefront with some cartoon-esque orange bubble writing is the way to pick out Rossco’s. If the curtains are open, you’re in the clear, if they’re closed and there’s a small, slick sold-out sign gracing the front window unfortunately it means you’ve missed snagging a Rossco’s sanga for another day.

There are a whole lot of fan favourites, including classic salad, creamy chicken, ham and then rotating specials, some of the most recent specials include egg salad, turkey salad and even a cevapi with cevapi from Siketa Meats, of course. Thick fluffy sourdough and ultra-fresh ingredients are what make Rossco’s sangas truly special. You can even grab a coffee or bottled juice while you’re there to wash everything down.

Here, you can tell Rossco’s sandwiches are made with love (and super fresh local produce of course). If you’ve been on the hunt for an old-school sandwich shop, Rossco’s in Geelong West is not to be missed. Be quick though, Rossco’s is no stranger to selling out. 

You can find Rossco’s at 84A Hope Street, Geelong West.

 

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Felix

Spawned from the brilliant team at ALMA, Felix is defined by three things: warm service, elegant setting and decadent dining.

Tucked up the dark alleyway of Downes lane (off little Malop street), Felix focuses on a celebration of seafood, vegetables and fine beverages and boasts an unapologetically extravagant decor alongside (think classic European sophistication), making this one of the most remarkable dining experiences in town – in one of the most unlikely of spaces.

The menu is refined and beautiful, including dishes like oysters with a delicate shallot and red wine vinaigrette; Black Pearl sterling white caviar; duo of lamb, pan-seared market fish with vierge and fennel; and roasted eggplant with tomato and zucchini. The opulence shines through to dessert with Tirami-choux with espresso, mascarpone and vanilla or dark chocolate sorbet.

Rounding out the finest new venue in town, you’ll find a beautiful wine list and selection of top-shelf drops, and the staff are possessed with noticeable poise, pushing the experience beyond expectations. This is everything great about elegant and entirely hidden fine dining in Geelong.

You can find Felix at 9 Downes Lane, Geelong

 

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The Pivotonian Cinema

Despite the bright orange paint, Geelong’s Pivotonian Cinema is tucked away in a hidden pocket of Geelong and definitely worth a visit once in your lifetime. Stepping foot into the Verner Street building, it’s like entering one of the many independent cinemas that surround Melbourne – just minus the history.

Boasting an intimate, wine bar feel with dimmed lighting and the warm orange of the logo throughout the small venue, the independent cinema states they want to be able to illustrate the unique and interesting nature of Geelong, which they truly do, by carefully selecting movies to put on from all corners of the earth.

These aren’t just the latest Hollywood hit, you’ll find some of the most heart-warming foreign films, some informative documentaries, and absolutely absurd arthouse dramas. Their amazing candy bar is jam-packed with some the best local Beer and Wine, and some tasty snacks you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

For less than half the price of a ticket at other cinemas, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t head to The Pivotonian.

Check out all the movies currently showing at The Pivotonian here.

Find it at Moorabool St &, Verner St, South Geelong

 

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Mercy Cafe

If you’re looking for a new coffee spot in the CBD with simply stunning views, then we’ve found the perfect hidden joint for you.

Operating out of a beautifully renovated shopping container tucked away deep in Eastern Park Circuit, Mercy serves up some damn fine cups of Mikro Coffee Roasters coffee with a food menu that features a bevvy of sandwiches and baguettes all made on-site. Our picks include the fresh tomato and basil baguette, or the Roast Beef, Swiss Cheese, Pickled Onion on an La Madre Bakery sourdough baguette served with a French Dip!

The flavour combinations here are second to none and Mercy are catering to all dietaries, especially with the Mexican Sloppy Joe baguette with Black Beans, Tomato and Corn Salsa, Smoked Cheddar and Corn Chips. You’ll also find the likes of hot soup and several sweet treats which will be out on display.

Completely hidden from the main roads, Mercy is well worth venturing out into the cold for.

Find them gem tucked away at 401 Eastern Park Circuit, Geelong

 

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La Cachette

Literally translating to ‘the hideaway’ in French, La Cachette is a modern, intimate and quiet 25-seat bistro, tucked away in Steampacket Place on the lush Geelong Waterfront.

Taking influence from the French bistronomy movement, La Cachette is different to most French places. There’s no steak frites, or French-onion soup, white tablecloths or waistcoated staff. Instead, Geelong born-and-bred Matt Podbury wants to show Geelong what contemporary French dining looks like, injecting fun and accessibility, as well as warmth and intimacy, into the local culinary scene.

The $85 fixed price menu will include two snacks and local sourdough bread, followed by a small choice of entrees, mains and desserts, with the option to add an extra entrée. Changing often, the menu reflects a selection of seasonal dishes inspired by Podbury’s travels through France and the incredible produce found in Victoria from nearby farmers, growers and suppliers.

Orchestrating the perfect balance of expertise and affable hospitality, the wine list will showcase smaller winemakers with stories and passion that inspires the dining experience. Leaning towards natural and minimal intervention winemaking, La Cachette’s small and always evolving list will be able to accommodate more traditional tastes as well.

Find La Cachette hidden down Steampacket Place, Geelong Waterfront.

 

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IGNI

The venue itself might be hidden, the name IGNI is well-known amongst those immersed in the Victorian dining scene and regarded as one of Australia’s very best restaurants.

Located down Ryan Place, a back alley within Geelong’s CBD, IGNI (meaning ‘fire’ in Latin) is a petite 28-seat, two-hat restaurant from none other than renowned chef Aaron Turner.

Champion of independent farmers and artisan producers, IGNI’s dining experience is based around the charcoal grill, which, along with the imaginative flavour combinations and seasonal ingredients, provides much of the drama. With a minimalist interior, all blonde wood, muted greys and polished concrete, the focus remains on the food at all times and so it should.

In going with the theme of hidden gems, the menu itself is presented as a surprise set-course menu, with the option of adding on beverage pairings. It’s pure opulence here and well worth the trip for a special occasion.

Igni is found at Ryan Pl S, Geelong

 

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Cool Cool Cool Café

Nestled in a tiny hole in the wall location, Cool Cool Cool Cafe has become an institution for locals and a destination for visitors since opening back in March 2020, just prior to the Victorian lockdowns. But careful, blink and you’ll miss it.

Despite being close to a bustling train station, the South Geelong cafe is an unpretentious hideaway to enjoy great coffee, good vibes and even better plant-based bagels, with owner Cohen Johnston creating a lively yet intimate setting for his ever-changing customer base of lovers of a quick brekky fix.

Find it 223 Yarra Street, South Geelong

 

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This article was made in partnership with Visit Geelong & The Bellarine.