There are a million breakfast, lunch and dinner options in this coffee-swilling metropolis of ours, but places that manage to do all three – and offer alcoholic drinks to boot – are a rare find. In fact, a lot of people question whether they even exist. Well, folks, we’re here to inform you that yes, yes they do. And we’ve helpfully compiled a list of Melbourne’s best day-to-night venues for you.
A relatively recent addition to Smith Street’s foodie scene, Mjr Tom is something of a space oddity: it has a café at the front, a bar round the back, and a dining room in the basement. The team serve breakfast from 8am to 3pm – standouts include a banana hot dog (roasted banana with bacon lardons in a piping-hot arepa) and a triple stacked quesadilla (fried egg, avocado and black beans laced with green chilli). The coffee is imported from Italian roaster Romcaffe and pairs nicely with the pumpkin doughnuts if you prefer to have dessert for breakfast. For lunch, which runs til 5pm, you might go for an Israeli couscous salad with black sesame labneh or a trio of confit duck and chicken sliders. After that, it’s serious business with a dinner menu that showcases pan-Asian/Latin flavours. Order some tapas (like the intriguingly named Pig-Face Terrine) and round them out with a sizeable share plate of slow-roasted pork knuckle or adobo-braised beef ribs. Save some room for a nightcap at the bar – as well as a well-curated list of local wines, spirits and craft beers, Mjr Tom’s cocktail menu is first-rate and includes a Mexican Mojito made with coconut tequila.
Baby Café & Pizzeria
The baby sister of Chin Chin and Kong BBQ is open from 7am to late, seven days a week, and dishes up artisanal pizza and trattoria faves. Breakfast at Baby has an Italian bent with pecorino scrambled eggs, ‘Amatriciana’ baked eggs and buttermilk and maple hotcakes. For lunch, go straight to the seasonal menu of 20+ pizzas – standouts include the Nduja (fior di latte, spicy Italian sausage, red peppers, smoked mozzarella, tomatoes and rosemary) and the Broccolini (fior di latte, gorgonzola, broccolini, pancetta and garlic oil). Although you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you only ate the pizza here, it’s not often you find a pan-fried pizza – and it’s every bit as good as it sounds. At night, snack on parmesan-crusted polenta chips over an easy-drinking carafe of house wine. Beyond pizza, you could order tagliatelle duck ragù, rabbit braised in white wine or saucy meatballs on polenta. Baby is as busy as Chin Chin and Kong BBQ, but it all adds to the buzz of the place.
Some Velvet Morning
What can be said about Some Velvet Morning that hasn’t been said before? It’s a wonderful place at any time of the day. Breakfast is kept simple and straightforward, running from 8am to 4pm. Get some smashed avocado and marinated feta into your face, or keep it classic with two poached eggs on sourdough toast, accompanied by sweet mustard pickle and Roma tomatoes. Coffee hails from Wide Open Road in Brunswick and the tea selection comes from Storm In A Teacup. For lunch, you can choose between four not-so-humble toasties: The Deluxe with double-action cheese, The Brat with bacon, rocket, avocado and tomato, The Tuna Melt with everything you’d expect plus a side of house relish, and The Reuben with sauerkraut and Marie Rose sauce. After something more substantial? Get a burger – either bacon, Hawaiian or mushroom. The real drawcard here though – and what Some Velvet Morning is famous for – is the nachos. They’ve got traditional, they’ve got vegetarian, and they’ve got pulled-pork. There’s no better way to take in a late-night gig than with a drink in your hand and a plate of those on the table.
It’s hard to remember when Dr Morse wasn’t around – a sure sign of a killer venue. The kitchen team serve up eggs benedict, corn cakes and toasted croissants from 8am to 4.30pm, as well as speciality jaffles bursting with smoky chorizo, gruyere and corn or chickpea and eggplant curry. The coffee runs the gamut from cold drip to batch-brew filter, and the Cascara Coffee Cherry Tea is worth trying at least once. The lunch menu is adventurous and well-balanced, with a buttermilk-fried chicken sandwich, as well as some virtuous-sounding superfood salads and beer-battered chips with smoky aioli. As day turns to night, the dinner menu moves into share-plate territory: split a baked rainbow trout in the beer garden out the back, or divvy up a plate of blue cheese gnocchi. Dr Morse is also renowned for doing mussels three ways and matching them with local beers. The overall vibe is laidback and a little bit rock ’n’ roll – the perfect for cure whatever ails you.
Tyranny of Distance
Once a petrol station, this quirky southside diner pumps out breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks from 9am to 11pm. The breakfast menu is filled with old-school favourites like the Tyranny Benedict (poached eggs with smoky bacon smothered in BBQ hollandaise sauce) and the smashed avo on caprese toast (poached eggs, basil pesto, tomato, cheese and avocado). The lunch menu can be ordered from 9am and offers a couple of classic burgers as well as grilled saganaki and flat breads. At 4pm, Happy Hour starts, and the kitchen team rolls out the dinner menu. It’s filled with crowd-pleasing snacks like arancini balls, roti rolls and some flavour-packed nachos made from fried gyoza skins with smoked chicken, caramelised onion, smoked cheddar, barbeque sauce and guacamole. Main courses include steak and potatoes, sesame-crusted salmon and slow-cooked pork belly – it’s all good, honest food designed for soaking up booze. Because things will get boozy at Tyranny. During Happy Hour, everything is $4, and the semi-open forecourt space is designed for summer nights.
This cosy little French café has live music on Thursday and Friday nights, and a devil-may-care attitude that’ll put a spot of joie de vivre back in your life. La Niche is only open for breakfast on weekends at the moment but this may change over summer. In the meantime, front up after 8am for fresh croissants, pain au chocolat and café au lait. More substantial breakfast offerings include a croque monsieur with velvety béchamel oozing all over the place, a bacon and egg baguette, and golden omelettes stuffed with ham, cheese and herbs. The lunch menu revolves around whatever’s fresh from market or in the kitchen – it might be a fresh chèvre salad or a warm salmon Niçoise. In the evening, a glass of Côtes du Rhône or Brumont Gros Manseng balances nicely with the impressive cheese and charcuterie board, or a hearty bowl of boeuf bourguignon. Moules frites pop up regularly on the blackboard specials and there’s a big, messy French cheeseburger for those boozy, need-food-now moments. There’s a selection of rich French desserts to tempt you, and a bohemian beer garden out the back that’s perfect for carousing under the stars.
The beloved Bend recently gave itself a facelift, with the entire interior renovated and revamped. Nothing essential has changed though – the menu is as cheap and tasty as ever. Breakfast eggs come on Dench bread with your choice of sides, and the baristas sling Will & Co coffee for just $3 before 10am. Feast on chia coconut pudding with vanilla honey and kimchi pancakes with pineapple slaw. For something heftier, try the Eggs Champignon (thyme-roasted field mushrooms, goat’s cheese, walnut bread, poached eggs and hollandaise). For lunch, burgers are king, with chicken and crab coming together in the Pluck ‘n’ Claw. The vegan burger will satisfy plant-based eaters everywhere. Burgers are $10 on Tuesday nights, but it’s worth coming back on another occasion for the red goat curry or chickpea chana masala. A seasonal rotation of beers on tap round out the fridge full of bottled beer, and there’s a good range of wines and ciders, plus four jugs of cocktails. The Bend’s exhibition space and upstairs cinema always have something interesting in the works, so be sure to check out the coming attractions on the chalkboard.
This Brunswick favourite is legendary for its excellent daytime and dinnertime menus – as well as its way-above-average coffee. The Pope's all-day breakfast covers a lot of bases, with offerings like salmon and cauliflower croquettes, spinach and taleggio omelette, and superfood-style bubble ‘n’ squeak. For lunch, think orecchiette pasta with pumpkin seed pesto, jerk chicken with grilled corn bread and a whole host of different sandwiches. Go for The E.D.: devilled egg, celeriac remoulade, baby spinach and provolone cheese. Dinner is only available on weeknights at present, but it’s worth staying out late on a school night for. Snack on some crispy prawn dumplings before moving onto the main affair – there’s a thoroughly modern Chicken Kiev and some tender lamb shoulder, as well as fried cauliflower risotto. A kids menu proves more than an afterthought, and an ever-changing drinks offering embraces locally-crafted beers, wines and ciders as well as a formidable range of gin, whisky and rye.
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