Our flagrant obsession with cafes in Melbourne would be worrying if breakfast and coffee were illicit activities—if it’s poached, smashed, drizzled with maple, or can have smoked salmon on the side, we’re all over it. Thankfully, our love for the morning meal has resulted in us being utterly spoiled for choice by the sheer multitude of new cafes serving up truly spectacular feeds first thing.
Whether you dig on granola or the greasy fry-up, these are 12 of the best new cafes in Melbourne (in no particular order) you have to check out—consider it your 2021 to-do list.
ONA Melbourne sits comfortably behind Sydney Road on Ovens Street—the team compares its coffee mecca to a wine bar rather than a cafe but that’s not to say their brunch should be looked over. Their signature iteration of the hotcake with whipped corn tofu is balanced by staples like eggs on toast, and are both more than worthy of pairing with your coffee selection, so be sure to add it to your list.
Just by the entrance to the new East Brunswick Village centre, you’ll find the latest northside cafe to open their doors: Bellboy. The fitting name is just the tip of the iceberg for why you’ll love this new brunch spot. They’re pet and cyclist-friendly with abundant al fresco space, and they make their own breads from scratch. House-made sourdough crumpets, anyone?
South Yarra’s newest two-level brunch spot is speckled with greenery and goes by the name of Norman. From Vegemite avo toast to zucchini and corn waffles with red capsicum curd, Norman South Yarra prides itself on serving up classic cafe dishes with a twist. But if you’re craving Melbourne brunch basics, never fear, because the all day breakfast menu includes smashed avo, chilli scrambled eggs and banana split french toast.
Korean inspiration can largely be found in Palette’s pared-back interior and the menu, too. You can find the classics—such as a delightful pulled pork benedict—on the menu, but there are several signature offerings that are worth a look-in should you be feeling adventurous, namely, the salmon and prawn tartare with wasabi pea puree.
You’ll want to wake up early to score goods from the CBD’s always-sold-out bakery, Bakemono. Tucked away on Little Lonsdale St, right across from sister cafe Little Rogue, it’s easy to see the hype behind this Japanese-inspired bakery: almond-yuzu croissants, cream-cheese buns, and milk bread and just some of the treats you’ll want to get your hands on before they’re gone.
Coe & Coe
If you’ve swung by the absolute vibe-fest that is Coe & Coe Cremorne, then you’ll love their new digs in Yarraville. Expect the same delicious made-to-order coffee, juice and paninis and infectious enthusiasm as their other venues. Our order? The Coe & Coe panini (with prosciutto, bocconcini, tomato and pesto), a lemon cleanse juice (the absolute best hangover cure known to man) and a long black, thanks.
Swanking up Thornbury’s High Street with its sleek decor and high-quality Middle Eastern-inspired grub is Prior. The kitchen is run by Maha’s former head chef, Nick Korceba, so you know you can expect the utmost quality when it comes to eats. From thinly sliced Mayura wagyu beef to classics like potato hash with poached eggs, you’ll leave already dreaming about the next time you’ll eat here again.
Nine months after beloved Bü shut up shop in 2019, Canning Street welcomed Monforte Viennoiserie to the charming corner store locale. A croissant-heavy affair, pretty much everything is made on-site at Monforte—highlights from their first weekend of trade include a savoury guanciale, Parmesan and thyme croissant, gluten-free strawberry and yuzu muffins along with an almost illegally addictive strawberry cream cheese bun. Hell yes.
More of a wine bar than a cafe, the CBD’s new European-style wine bar Greta definitely deserves a mention in our top new cafes list. Serving coffee (see? still counts), made-to-order sandwiches (um, roast beef please) and lots of other delectable treats, you’ll want to pop down to this Flinders Lane gem ASAP.
Small Axe Kitchen has really perfected restaurant quality service with the café vibe and after being beautifully renovated, you can choose to cosy up inside or brave the elements on the communal tables outside. The menu follows the typical brunch format, but with welcomed Italian twists. Instead of French toast, you’ll get toasted brioche with whipped cinnamon ricotta and honey—that’s a swap we can get on board with.
Another wine-bar-slash-cafe situation, there are many solid reasons why Waxflower is currently in the Melbourne hospitality spotlight, most notably its infusion of European influence in the scene. Much of the Waxflower wine list is local, but the way you explore it draws inspiration from all-arvo vino cafes which transition into bars as the sun goes down; start with a glass mid-afternoon, then dip into the share plates and pair with a bottle after a few hours. Oh, and there’s coffee, too—obviously.
Coffee lovers unite. Undercover Roasters have opened their massive HQ cafe and store in Abbotsford and it is all time. The wholesale business has stuck through the pandemic to open their flagship, so you can now enjoy their signature coffee with a stack of brunch and breakfast options like the Big Easy—rosemary and cheesy potato hash with smoked beef brisket or pulled pork shoulder, onion jam, kohlrabi and apple slaw, poached egg and hollandaise.
While not a newbie on the cafe scene per se (it first opened late-ish 2019), Roman’s Original still deserves a notable mention as some of Melbourne’s best-kept secrets. Is it a bar? Is it a European cafe? Is it a cool little diner where you can sit in peace, read the paper and eat a sandwich? Turns out it’s all of the above. But you’ll have to check it out for yourself.
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Image credit: Rowan Marsh-Croft