polēpolē Bar



Africa has a special place in me (and yes, I know Africa isn’t a country). As a kid I spent a few years living in Ethiopia, and before moving to Australia I called Ghana my home. So when an invite to the opening of polēpolē, an East African themed bar in CBD, landed in our inboxes I got a bit excited. Well, to be honest, “a little bit” doesn’t do it justice. I might have Facebook spammed a few of my friends shrieking of excitement.


Through a door and up some stairs you reach the bar, or the watering hole, whatever you prefer to call it. The bar is low lit and cosy, just as a good bar should be. Behind the bar is an amazing wooden wall (which I was about to describe, but hey, there’s a picture, and a picture is more than a thousand words, right?). The other walls are painted in a dark grey with big golden trees, just like the common trees you see all over East Africa.


polēpolē is run by a husband and wife team, Dean and Jeanelle Mariani, who were inspired to open up the bar during their travels in East Africa. The name is a word in Swahili, meaning “go slowly. suppose you could say it’s the East African way of saying carpe diem, just in a slower, more laid back, way, and what the bar is trying to accomplish. Taking it easy, relaxing, and just enjoying the moment. While something delicious to eat and drink, of course.


The menu, both when it comes to drinks and food, has clearly African influences. You’ll find Kenyan and Ethiopian beers and my favourite cider: Savanna. Funny story: the slogan for Savanna in West Africa is the ridiculous “It’s dry, but you can drink it”. I have no idea who came up with it, but they clearly haven’t had a sip of the cider. Sure, it’s not the sweetest one on the market, but it’s really not that dry. Oh well. It’s delicious anyway and I’m surely coming back again and again if just to have one or two of these.

If you’re in the mood for cocktails there’s some great ones on the menu. Our pick of the litter was the Ginger Lesson, with gin, house-made ginger syrup, Montenegro and citrus. The only drawback with it was that I couldn’t stop sipping from it so I finished it quite quickly. Although well, you can’t really blame the cocktail for being too good.

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As for the food, there’s a lot of slow cooked meats and liberal use of harissa. At our visit we tried 3 dishes, harissa lamb ribs, pork cigars and a dessert and each were really great. We deemed it the perfect bar sharing food!

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I don’t just like polēpolē cause I’m overly excited about anything African. No. This is a genuinely nice place, and we thoroughly appreciate that it’s not just another fancy looking bar in the CBD, it’s a bar with more of a personality and dash of soul. Perfect for a relaxed catch-up with an old friend, or some after work drinks, laughs and conversations with a small group.


Polēpolē Bar
1/267 Little Collins St, Melbourne
(03) 9650 2811
WebsiteFacebookTwitter – Instagram

Opening Hours
Daily 4pm – Late

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