Pub or restaurant? That's like having to choose a favourite child. It doesn't have to be that way: regional Victoria's pub restaurant excel in crisp cold beer and gourmet fare in front bars, beer gardens and dining rooms with boutique wine lists. Ginger-child problem solved, just like that.
Coast to coast, Murray to Melbourne, these are some of our smoothest operators.
Coast along from surf to surf'n'turf and explore Victoria's beachside villages. In Phillip Island, blame it on the San Remo, go Westernport and linger till the Cowes come home at the Phillip Island Hotel.
On the West coast, the Geelong Hotel serves up classics on the all-day menu and the stage. This pub is the music you grew up with.
When you hit the Great Ocean Road, make pit stops at the Blackman's Brewery, Torquay; Aireys Pub and Brewery, Aireys Inlet; Apollo Bay Hotel or Great Ocean Road Brewhouse, Apollo Bay; Hotel Warrnambool or Mac's Hotel, Warrnambool. Detour inland for the Forrest Brewing Company; The Beechy Hotel, Beech Forest; and the Elephant Bridge Hotel, Darlington. But get someone else to drive.
Mosey the length of the Murray River and be rewarded with fine craft ales and culinary finery. Locally known as the Yank, The American Hotel in Echuca draws a constant crowd for its great pub grub, live music and lively vibe (come armed with your singalong voice). Travel upriver to Mildura Brewery, for the craftiest local beers and menus from local culinary legend Stefano de Pieri. In Wodonga, the Goods Shed Craft Beer Café also has the goods: craft beer and regionally sourced fare by the shedload.
Local produce and brews take centre stage across Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges, the Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges and the Goldfields.
In and around Daylesford there are some tough choices: the Daylesford Hotel or the Farmers Arms? Travel to Trentham to the Cosmopolitan or to the Radio Springs Hotel? Try the reigning Royal George in Kyneton or the Mount Macedon Hotel in its eponymous town?
In the Goldfields, pubs are full of pots of gold. Make like a marsh at the Mallow Hotel, or enjoy a steak with a Sunday Sesh at the Western Hotel in Ballarat. Savour local beers with meals at old-school Tooborac Hotel; go public in the Public Inn, Castlemaine; gun for Bendigo's Rifle Brigade Hotel; and relax at the historic Axedale Tavern.
Run for the hills: leg it to Dunkeld's celebrated Royal Mail Hotel, by the stunning peaks of the Grampians National Park, and at the Avoca Hotel by the Victorian Pyrenees.
Further on high, Alpine country delivers superb pub grub, both old-school and boutique. Go Euro at the boutique Mountain View Hotel, Whitfiled; try the tasting menu with a tipple from the hidden gem cellar door at the Plough Inn, Tarrawingee; toe the Snowline with share plates and pub classics in Harrietville; or carve out the perfect afternoon at the renowned Stanley Hotel.
Down in the Yarra Valley, join the crowds in Healesville for coveted fare and Sunday barbecue at the Healesville Hotel.