Make the most important meal of the day the best one at these top-notch Melbourne cafés.
By Ellie Schneider
It's a city renowned for its café culture and Melburnians are spoilt for choice when it comes to their morning meal. Here are a few Melbourne breakfast and brunch spots that are worth getting out of bed for.
Just behind Chapel Street in South Yarra, Two Birds One Stone has become a popular port of call for hungry Melburnians. Its bright, airy space and cosy booth seating mean you could easily hang around all day. And with food this impressive you may just want to. Go for the ricotta pancakes with fresh figs, marmalade syrup and pistachio cream, or the crumbed chicken thigh burger with bok choy, slaw and Coney Island mustard. Your caffeine hit is available in a variety of forms: espresso, aeropress, siphon, pour over and cold drip. And leave room for the signature cheesecake brownie.
This could quite possibly be the most photographed café in Melbourne. Housed within a converted Victorian terrace on Albert Road, The Kettle Black serves sophisticated breakfast fare almost too pretty to eat. Think hotcakes with ricotta, blueberries, maple and double cream, burrata with raw heirloom tomatoes and ocean trout with raw kale and pickled vegetable salad.
This vibrant café is owned and run by YGAP, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to end world poverty. All profits go directly to supporting youth education and leadership programs in Malawi, Ghana, Rwanda, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Australia. The food at Feast of Merit has a Middle Eastern bent and the menu changes seasonally. Dishes may include yoghurt panna cotta with granola, mezze plate with 12-hour slow cooked lamb and Moroccan baked beans with tahini, labneh and baked eggs.
The menu may be brief at the pocket-sized Twenty & Six Espresso, but the food boasts so much flavour. Order the crispy pork belly with apple jam and parmesan wafer or sweet corn and zucchini fritters with chipotle yoghurt and onion salsa. End the meal with a bounty hot chocolate made with coconut and house-made almond milk.
ST ALi’s flagship café has become a foodie hot spot. On any given day the crowd spills out the door, as discerning locals wait to get their hands on its signature dish, My Mexican Cousin: secret recipe corn fritters with poached eggs, grilled haloumi, corn and cucumber salsa and spicy tomato purée. Head barista Matt Perger is touted across the globe. Order the Barista Breakfast – espresso, cappuccino and a filter coffee – to find out what all the fuss is about.
Smack bang in the middle of Chapel Street, Journeyman has punters queuing at weekends for its beautifully plated breakfasts. Popular choices include toasted waffles with blueberry compote, fresh fruit, cream and smoked maple syrup. Or try the almond and cornflake crispy chicken burger with red cabbage slaw and corn and tomato salsa. A glass cabinet houses a decadent selection of desserts; don’t leave without picking up a flourless biscuit sandwich for later.
Tucked down the graffiti-splashed backstreets of Fitzroy lies one of Melbourne's best boutique roasters, Industry Beans. Skilled baristas turn out single origin and blended coffees through a wide variety of methods – including espresso, pour over, aeropress and cold drip – using beans roasted in-house. But it's not only the coffee that pulls the crowds. The progressive menu includes a coffee-rubbed Wagyu burger; truffled egg with zucchini ribbons and artichoke crisps; and cured salmon with fennel, avocado mousse and kaffir lime jelly.
Code Black Coffee is a café and roasting house that prides itself on craftsmanship, from its polished fit-out to its photogenic dishes, and at its core, a pursuit to be the best in the business. Tuck into coffee hotcakes with chocolate ganache, mascarpone and coffee jelly, or braised beef cheek with roast pumpkin, hazelnuts and pumpkin seeds. For your coffee hit, try the rotating selection of single origin that’s roasted in-house.
Sitting down to breakfast at Top Paddock has become a Melbourne must, so be prepared to wait. Do so and you'll be treated to sought-after dishes such as the hanger steak sandwich with red onion jam and wasabi butter; fresh Queensland soft-shell mud crab in a brioche bun; or gin and lime cured ocean trout with pickled baby beetroots, potato galette and poached eggs. Top it off with a mimosa or bloody mary.
The old WB Ellis auction house on Errol Street provides the bones for one of Melbourne's most lauded cafés, Auction Rooms. It has garnered a reputation for its cool fit-out and creative breakfast fare, which includes toasted corn tortillas with shredded pork shoulder; corned beef brisket with potato hash; and hot smoked ocean trout fillet with curried arancini and sesame yoghurt. Coffee is via its own roastery, Small Batch Roasting Co (located down the road,) and includes a seasonal espresso blend and rotating filter of the day.