Cafes

Make A Pit-Stop At Victoria’s Best Regional Cafes

By Rick Stephens
12th Apr 2021

A country cafe shining in the sun.

We know you all love to travel, we do too. But sometimes when you’re out and about, exploring the best of what regional Victoria has to offer, you get a craving for a Melbourne-quality coffee, or a Melbourne-quality brunch. You know what we mean, right? None of this eggs on toast business, but the decadent, creative and experimental food we’ve come to know and love from our state’s cafe capital. Fortunately, the far reaches of our Vic is dotted with the culinary elite, you just need to know where to look.

Here are the best regional cafes in Victoria.

Mr. Macedon

Macedon

Just under an hour from Melbourne, Mr. Macedon is one of the best cafes in the area for beautiful, seasonal food that tastes as good as it looks. The menu highlights are the BLT bagel, the wild mushroom brunch served with kale, a poached egg and goats cheese with plenty of herbs, nuts and seeds, and our personal recommendation, the Cuban benedict—cuban-style marinated pulled pork with sweet potato rosti, poached eggs, housemade beetroot hollandaise, fresh dill and black sesame. They’ve also got a great range of smoothies and juices alongside their drinks list—which includes a matcha latte and a turmeric latte. 

The Long Paddock

Lindenow

About 300km’s east of Melbourne is The Long Paddock, a cafe along Lindenow’s bucolic strip of about five or six shops. At the helm are couple and chefs Anton Eisenmenger and Tanya Bertino who have some serious credentials locally and abroad, most recently working at the iconic Vue de monde, Circa and Cumulus. The seasonal menu—wchanges regularly, so you’re just going to have to trust in us that the 300km drive is well worth it. 

Pancho Cafe

Daylesford

Picture perfect, this place is quintessentially country while providing all the comforts of city life. Pancho Cafe is just on the fringes of Daylesford’s main shopping strip, it’s so humble and unassuming, you could walk right by. On the menu at the moment you’ll find scrumptious apple and buckwheat fritters served with roasted rhubarb, honey and rosemary syrup, vanilla bean ice cream and a pecan crumb—need we say more? They’re also licensed and offer a local list of wines and beers, as well as some tasty cocktails, and coffee by Wide Open Road coffee roasters in Brunswick. 

Onda Food House

Aireys Inlet

If the coast is more your scene, then Onda Food House in the sleepy seaside town of Aireys Inlet should be on your list. Just down the Great Ocean Road, this riverside cafe has plenty of space inside and out for you to enjoy your grub. They’ve got a bunch of outdoor tables and benches by the lawn, and dogs are welcome too. Expect plenty of healthy brunch options and loads of vegan options, especially in their cakes cabinet. 

The Dunes

Ocean Grove

If it’s a view you’re after, then look no further than The Dunes. Set atop the surf living saving club in Ocean Grove, this cafe by day and restaurant by night has uninterrupted views sweeping along the coast that are pretty hard to beat. On a clear day, you can see the Mornington Peninsula and all the way across to Barwon Heads. They’ve just undergone a reno in the last couple of years too, so this home away from home is looking bougie AF. Their chips are next level, and their woodfired pizzas deserve a chef’s kiss. A lot of the menu can be altered for dietries, and they have a kiosk to cater to those sandy feet and wet bathers kinds of days. 

Bean Station Cafe

Wodonga

Head up to the Murray for some seriously good coffee and food right inside Wodonga’s historic train station built back in 1873. The Bean Station Cafe uses organic Merlo coffee beans for their signature bev, while executive chef Cassey Durum is in charge of the “out of the ordinary” food menu, including an all-day breakfast—that’s our favourite kind. Look out for the blueberry hotcakes, the hash brown benedict and the chilli caramel pork belly, you’ll thank us later. 

Bendigo Wholefoods 

Bendigo

If you’re all about local and seasonal food, we think you’ll like Bendigo Wholefoods. Complete with a deli, store, nursery and cafe, this place oozes local produce. Their menu is super fresh and takes ingredients straight from the garden for their salads and signature ‘wholebowls’, and their coffee is from a local Bendigo roaster too. They do barbecue lunches on Saturdays and they’re fully licenced and stocked with beers and wines from the region with a strong focus on sustainability. We can’t fault them. 

Mansfield Coffee Merchant

Mansfield

At the gateway to Victoria’s high country, Mansfield isn’t necessarily known for their coffee. But the Mansfield Coffee Merchant is changing that. They roast their single origin coffee and their signature blends on-site for the cafe, and to sell directly to you. They offer parcels and pods which are fully compostable and compatible with nespresso machines. As for the cafe menu, they’ve got plenty of brunch classics from smashed avo to hash browns with smoked salmon. They also offer some signature meals though, including their beef brisket taco and their porchetta eggs. They’re also open for dinner and make some of the best woodfired pizzas in town, so keep them in mind next time you head to the hills. 

My Little Kitchen

Healesville

The Yarra Valley is known for its wine, but let’s not forget about the brilliant cafe scene it offers as well. My Little Kitchen is a favourite amongst locals in Healesville, and for good reason. They’ve got top quality chefs with experience in some of the region’s best restaurants, they’re dog-friendly, they offer a tapas-style grazing menu alongside their brunch staples, and they serve excellent coffee using Toby’s Estate beans. Sit in the undercover courtyard or people-watch from the streetfront while you enjoy some of the best Melbourne-style cafe food outside of Melbourne. 

Ginger Baker Wine Bar and Cafe

Bright

Hey, we never said this list was exclusively for cafes and not blended venues. And besides, who wouldn’t want a cafe that doubles as a wine bar, right? Ginger Baker Wine Bar and Cafe is surrounded by nature on the edge of the Ovens River, up in Victoria’s alpine region. Nestled amongst towering oak and elm trees with the soundtrack of a waterfall in the background, the cafe is perfectly poised to keep you going morning to night, with their breakfast, lunch and dinner options. The gorgonzola gnocchi with spinach and walnuts is our top pick for the plant-based options, but the sticky chicken wings are hard to pass on if you’re the carnivorous type. 

The Sweet Meadow

Echuca

Here’s one for the vegans—The Sweet Meadow is just as delightful as it sounds. This beautiful cafe is filled with dried flowers and timber details in an adorable restored weatherboard, and they’ve got a gorgeous shop in the venue selling handmade ceramics and gifts too. The menu is very generous, with options for all kinds of tastes from sweet to savoury. Vegan never looked so good—they’ve got a vegan schnitzel burger, French toast, mocha waffles, mushroom tacos and one of the biggest smoothie lists we’ve seen in a cafe. Truly worth the trip and definitely one for the gram. 

Take things up a notch with the best regional restaurants in Victoria.

Image credit: Rob Blackburn

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