A little away from the quirky, university student population of central Brunswick, we’re not going to pretend East Brunswick is an entirely different suburb. But perhaps a little more delicate, a touch more refined and a smidgen quieter, it’s more than worth the extra few blocks east. Here are the best East Brunswick cafes, shopping restaurants, bars, and things to do.
A quintessentially homely Melbourne café, Milkwood is invitingly informal and appealingly cosy. Featuring a simple breakfast menu with staples like toast (with cinnamon in an adorkable love heart shape) and porridge (baked with rhubarb and ORANGE BLOSSOMS), Milkwood is one of East Brunswick’s best local cafes. The café’s interior can be a little snug, but if Melbourne’s weather is behaving you can perch yourself outside with some of the friendliest pooches in Melbourne.
East Brunswick’s favourite hidden café, East Elevation is a beautifully rustic space to enjoy organic, inventive brunch options in Melbourne. Hidden behind an unsigned neon red door, open brick, oversized skylights and high ceilings with exposed trusses makes up East Elevation’s rustic, warm nature. With a restrained design and unpretentiously creative menu, East Elevation is one of Brunswick’s best cafés. And, since they share their space with Monsieur Truffe, you won’t have to travel far (or at all) for dessert.
Flagging East Brunswick on Melbourne’s foodie map, 400 Gradi hardly needs an introduction since they were crowned the home of the world’s best margarita pizza last year. Repeat: the world’s. Best. Pizza. Book or be there early people.
Serving Latin American tapas and street-style food inspired by flavours from Peru, Mexico and Cuba, Paul Wilson’s Lady Carolina is one of Brunswick’s best restaurants. Wilson’s innovative menu features roasts (yum) cooked in a custom designed wood grill and rotisserie (yum yum), modern ceviche and escalades (ermehgawd yum). The menu is designed so guests can have as little or as much as they like. We recommend much.
Dimly-lit and bare except for a brightly mismatched collage which stretches along one side of the bar, The B.East is a fuss-free diner. An ideal low-key hangout with deliciously greasy burgers and a range of beers, The B.East is one of the best diners in Melbourne. Offering both classic and contemporary burgers and sliders, some of the inventive options include the ‘Regulator’ with beef short rib, BBQ sauce and buttermilk slaw, or ‘The Jerk’ with Jamaican style fried jerk chicken, lettuce, tomato, charred pineapple salad and coconut rum yoghurt. Why not both?!
Indulge your soul with rich Sicilian-style food at Bar Idda. With welcoming wait staff, mismatched timber chairs and homely floral tablecloths, Bar Idda is outrageously warm and hospitable. The menu shines with seasonal produce so if you can’t resist sneaking a few sneaky mouthfuls of everyone’s meal (you serial food thief you), we recommend sharing dishes. After all, who wants to choose between cheesy-layered eggplant, ricotta gnocchi or beef ragu? Not us.
With familiarity similar to a quiet night in at your best friend’s lounge, The Alderman on Lygon Street is one of Melbourne’s best hidden bars. A narrow shopfront opens marginally to reveal a neighbourly bar with a laidback menu of sugary cocktails, basic spirits and Becks on tap. There’s a cosy parlour and fireplace, or outdoor beer garden for summer nights. Like I said, the affability of your best friend’s house. You can even order in from Bar Idda next door.
Temple Brewing Co
Brewed on site, good luck getting a fresher cold frothie in Melbourne. Six handcrafted beers—including the Bicycle Beer (summer ale), aptly named Anytime (classic pale ale) and American Stout (charmingly self-explanatory) await at one of Melbourne’s best breweries. A multileveled building, the Temple Brewing Co is split into a restaurant, beer garden and brewery. It’s a dangerously versatile spot—from a spring post-work tiffle to beer-friendly celebration, Temple Brewing Co can just about charm the pants off anyone.
Featuring exposed concrete, fine timber and booths lined with alluring dark fabric, Mr Wilkinson is inviting, intimate and located conveniently close to some of East Brunswick’s most popular restaurants. In other words, perfect for testing those first-date waters pre dinner. Recycled wood and black steel fittings are an eco-friendly plus at this cosy-than-thou bar. Seasonal wines, beers and a collection of spirits are available.
Loveably old-fashioned, Atticus Finch rocks the antiqued look. From their door from another era to the dim lighting, if you’re looking for a quiet, no-frills bar, look no further. There’s a decked courtyard and bar space where you can choose from a boutique, curated drinks menu that includes wines, beer and whiskey. If you’re ever lost, waiters are attentive and warm enough to warm you without the extra shots.
You can get very lost in The Boroughs. Appropriately named, The Boroughs is filled with delightfully quirky, locally made products and the odd international line. Shelves are filled with products from independent designers (mostly from nearby suburbs) in a bright, open space. From accessories to books, clothes to homewares, explore until your heart is full and your wallet is empty.
Monk House Design
Featuring a handpicked selection of women’s clothing from the best boutique Australian and international fashion designers, it’s perilously easy to spend (the last of) your savings in Monk House Design. You’ve been warned. The selection boasts edgy, simple pieces of clothing which will feel right at home in your wardrobe. Happy shopping!
Blackhearts and Sparrows
If your splurges are more of the bottle variety, you’ll have no problems picking up a new bottle or three at Blackhearts and Sparrows. Featuring a tried and tested wine range, Blackhearts and Sparrows only stock the best of the best. With a focus on independent Australian wineries and a boutique range of international wines, Blackhearts and Sparrows is known for its unpretentious, knowledgeable staff. There’s no better place to learn.
The GIANT Brotherhood of Saint Lawrence
Savings looking a little low for an all out Brunswick shopping spree? Visit East Brunswick’s Brotherhood of Saint Lawrence. The largest (read: department store sized) Saint Lawrence community store in Melbourne, you’ll find everything from unique knick-knacks, second hand books, designer clothing and plenty of homewares up for grabs. Roll up those sleeves. Clearly, you’ve got a busy day ahead of you.
CERES (Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies)
East Brunswick’s community environment park, CERES is a not-for-profit social enterprise running events year round. Aiming to educate and implement urban projects, CERES is home to an organic farm, café, gardens and community activities. If you’re keen to get to know East Brunswick, there’s no better spot to start!
Merri Creek Trail
If you’re too tired (jks too many food babies) to ride the whole Merri Creek Trail, jump on from East Brunswick. Since there are plenty of serene parks along the way to take a breather, this is one of the best trails away from craziness (but we love you) of Melbourne.
Want more of the best cafes in East Brunswick? Search ‘Cafes East Brunswick’ on The Directory!