The Ultimate A-Z Of Melbourne Cafés

By Hilary Simmons
29th Mar 2016

monk bodhi dharma

Now that you know your ABC, won’t you come eat brunch with me?

A is for Auction Rooms This North Melbourne institution serves up some of the most innovative brunch and lunch fare in town—Auction Room's roast cauliflower, crispy buckwheat and sautéed kale dish with sago rösti, salsa verde and goats cheese & pea frittata is the stuff of breakfasting dreams.

B is for BarryThere’s nothing not to like about Barry’s—other than the inevitable line-up to get a table. It’s worth it though when you taste their signature dish of peanut butter and heirloom tomatoes on toast, or up your daily greens intake with the Californian superfood salad.

C is for Code Black Coffee Nestled behind Barkley Square Shopping Centre, this newish Brunswick cafe has an eclectic brunch and lunch menu—think zucchini, artichoke, almond and chia fritters with corn salsa, avocado, chorizo, coriander and poached eggs.

D is for Dr Morse - If you’ve only visited the good doctor at night, you’re missing out—Dr Morse's brunch menu features panko-crumbed eggs with crispy roti and spiced hollandaise, while lunch options include Thai vegan salads and steamed buns with chili fries.

E is for East Elevation Half café and half chocolate workshop, this loft-like space is where Monsieur Truffle makes his chocolaty treats. East Elevation boasts a delicious, French-inspired café menu with standout dishes including ricotta and rose-stuffed crepes, and smashed avocado on olive bread.

F is for Feast of MeritInspired by a festival in far north-eastern India, this socially-conscious café puts all its profits towards youth education projects in Australia, Asia and Africa. Feast of Merit's menu showcases fresh local produce—try the ‘Summer Harvest’ in the warmer months, or discover Middle Eastern crumpets.

G is for Grace CaféHome to single-origin coffee and single-serve Berocca, there’s no greater joy than hoeing into Grace’s baked eggs with chickpeas, eggplant, tomato and feta on a summer afternoon in the sunny courtyard.

H is for Hash Specialty Coffee Everyone knows about Hash’s show-stopping hot chocolate, but the brunch and lunch dishes are also seriously good—in particular, the umami-rich thyme-sautéed mushrooms with pumpkin puree, smoky aioli and goats cheese.

I is for Industry BeansWhere else but in Fitzroy's Industry Beans would you find a slab of compressed watermelon that closely resembles a raw tuna steak, but is actually gently flavoured with rosewater and served alongside chia seed granola and rhubarb? Nowhere, that’s where.

J is for JourneymanIf you like your coffee strong and your baristas hot, Journeyman has a wow-factor menu with such wonders as Persian feta potato croquettes with poached eggs and avocado hummus toast with candied bacon.

K is for 30Kerr65The name of this Fitzroy espresso bar has dual reference points: the street address, the suburb postcode, the correct espresso pour (30mL) and the perfect milk-texturing temperature (65°C). Whew. You won’t find much in the way of food on offer, but the coffee is next-level and there are Italian-style artisanal sweets on display.

L is for Little Big Sugar Salt You’ve gotta love a café that presents their menu as a satirical newspaper complete with tongue-in-cheek horoscopes. The food at LBSS is as good as it sounds in the witty descriptions—sticky kumara is loaded with kimchi slaw, cashew cream, fresh herbs and poached eggs while the Shia LaBoef sandwich is, much like the actor, a total handful.

M is for Monk Bodhi DharmaThis superstar Balaclava café has the prettiest vegan breakfast trifle we’ve ever seen, as well as an amazing ‘raw’ burrito with spiced nuts, creamy guacamole, heirloom tomatoes and cashew sour cream. Yes, Monk Bodhi Dharma

N is for NSHRYThis glass-fronted beachside café pours single origin and cold drip coffee, and has an innovative, Asian-inspired menu. Highlights include Vietnamese eggs on Szechuan-peppered sourdough and a soufflé omlette with smoked chorizo, chives, asparagus, goats cheese and Korean BBQ sauce.

O is for Olie & AriAiry and spacious with exposed brick walls, this Brighton café boasts a cosy courtyard and a quality selection of sweet, savoury and egg dishes. The quinoa breakfast salad with oranges, cinnamon, walnuts, sultanas, yoghurt and honey will satisfy the virtuous while the scrambled eggs with squeaky halloumi cheese and chorizo sausage will grease up the hungover.

P is for Penny Farthing EspressoBrimming with old-school appeal and hip bicycle décor, Penny Farthing is peddling (see what we did there?) revamped breakfast classics, like French toast with peanut butter mascarpone. Not a fan of the sweet stuff? Try the pea & sage bruschetta on pumpkin bread with smoked salmon and a poached egg.

Q is for Queensbury Pour HouseModelled after a classic American diner, this joint has bottomless cups of filter coffee as well as well as a coffee-soaked lamb pie, which was accidentally invented when someone spilt espresso over the owner’s lunch. Luckily, it tastes amazing, and it comes with an espresso shot on the side.

R is for Ray’s CaféLocated in a big ol’ warehouse in Brunswick, Ray’s has a pun-errific menu that encompasses breakfast and lunch. It’s heavy on Middle Eastern influences: standout dishes include Cob Dylan (corn fritters, fattoush salad, fried egg, house pickles and preserved lemon yoghurt) and Iron Maiden (chicken livers, fried egg, pomegranate molasses and fresh herbs on Turkish bread).

S is for Short StrawThis pretty little newbie on Melbourne’s café scene has a two-room design and imaginative brunch and lunch menu. Think Thai sardine salad with chili, peanuts, coconut, soy, herbs, ‘slaw and tamarind, or reimagined Eggs Benedict with sriracha hollandaise, smoked ham hock and Grannysmith apple shavings.

T is for Three Bags Full Pouring first-class coffee in a heritage-listed building that was once a hat mill, Three Bags Full has been a winner from the start. The Big Breakfast covers all the bases: eggs, bacon, tomato, mushroom, sausage, spinach, relish and toast with change from $20.

U is for Union Street BrewersA hop and a skip from Jewell Station, Union Street Brewers ticks all the boxes. The coffee is excellent, the service is friendly and the kitchen bakes its own Montreal-style bagels. The Brekky Burger with thick-cut pastrami and poached egg offers an interesting twist on the egg ‘n’ bacon roll, while the banana bread shows French influences with brûlée banana and pistachio praline.

V is for Vincent the Dog - Located behind Cinema Nova on Drummond Street, it’s possible that this specialty and small batch coffee shop is man’s best friend, not your pooch (sorry). Vincent serves Chinese donuts filled with melted cheese for breakfast, import boutique bagels from Five & Dime from Monday–Friday, and also dish up a halloumi waffle sandwich. Oh, and a ‘Specialty Affogato’ with Ferrero Rocher or white chocolate gelato.

W is for Wide Open RoadWide Open Road’s legendary coffee needs no introduction, and their inventive menu is also the stuff of Melbourne-café folklore. Pair your pour-over with fig, prosciutto and house-made ricotta on house-baked sourdough with leatherwood honey and walnuts, or segue straight to the Moroccan-spiced carrot salad with hummus, medjool dates, crispy flatbread, hazelnut falafel and tahini yoghurt.

X is for XocolatlIn the days of the Aztec Empire, cacao was drunk as xocolātl or ‘dirty water’, and that’s where the name of this Canterbury chocolate café comes from. It boasts eight different variations of hot chocolate, including chili and rose & spice, and there’s a serviceable range of toast, cakes, tarts and muffins.

Y is for Young Bloods DinerThis slick Fitzroy diner has a killer rooftop view, signature house blend and all-day breakfast menu. Highlights include a tangle of mixed mushrooms tumbled with goats cheese and poached eggs, while lunch combines lamb shoulder with minted pea puree and sumuc-y zucchini salad.

Z is for Zen DenLocated in a former bike shop, Zen Den is an Eltham gem with a hip-hop theme. The ingeniously titled Beets by Dre is a fresh riff on breakfast juice, and the Hashta La Vista comprises a potato hash stack topped with buttered mushrooms, toasted pinenuts, wilted spinach, tangy hollandaise and poached eggs. The almond milk chia pudding is summer is a bowl and the lunchtime macro bowls are also worth a look-in.

OMG can't get enough Melbourne brunch?! Check out The Best Melbourne Breakfasts | 2016 Edition for the latest and greatest egg-y creations.

Image credit: Jenna Fahey White for The Urban List

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