Pick Of The Precinct | Hawthorn

By Steff Tan
28th Sep 2017


Move over Smith Street, coz Hawthorn's Glenferrie Road is seriously becoming one of Melbourne's most delicious destinations. With all-night pizzas, plenty of beer, and cafés chock-a-block full of heavenly everything, Hawthorn’s quickly cementing its place as the ‘burb to be (and don't the real estate agents know it). Trust us, it’ll be worth dodging private school kids toting iPhone 8s.

Strap yourself in for our picks of the precinct.  


Known for roasting some of Melbourne’s best coffee, Axil Coffee Roasters are masters of the Hawthorn breakfast game. Their red velvet pancakes are a thing of beauty, and the fodder of #foodporn dreams. Grab a bunch of mates and head here for Sunday brunch—just be prepared to wait a bit. Gets rammed around 10am. 


Relatively new to the Hawthorn scene, Blood Orange is a sweet combination of grocer, corner store and good ol' fashioned cafe. Down a yummy brekkie of the freshest produce (grown right in the courtyard), then grab some fresh veg to go. Feeling lazy? They do take-home dinners, too. Result!


Even if your conscience is clear, Melbourne institution Liar Liar is a must-visit. Dishing up some of the best breakfasts in town (go the smashed avo, it's been on there for yonks), grab a perch at the communal table and peruse the weekend papers. The perfect way to spend a Saturday morning. 


Also taking its cues from Japan, this Hawthorn cafe is cute as a button. With a sweet, rustic fit-out featuring children’s books on the shelves and a big, round communal table, Tana is the ideal space to take a break and enjoy a matcha latte and a mashed potato sandwich (you'll have to trust us on that one). 

le clec melbourne


Just down the road from Lido Cinema is Le Clec, one of the latest additions to the Glenferrie Road food scene. The brunch bar has an Asian fusion menu with wicked twists like the spicy Pork Bao Benedict. Instead of the classic eggs benny, Le Clec takes a steamed bao pocket and stuffs it with sticky-glazed pork belly, topped with poached eggs and a solid hit of kimchi hollandaise. The good people in the kitchen also do made-to-order, fresh-baked gingerbread, if you're after a festive snack. 


Absolutely bursting with natural light, Lights in the Attic wows with a team passionate about delivering anything but cookie-cutter brunch. The drinks menu is jam-packed with bespoke coffee variations and cold pressed juices, while the food boasts grin-worthy dishes like Scotch eggs with potato chips nest and Kransky chilli beans. This is definitely one for Mad Mondays. 


Just like the name suggests, you can expect some hella futuristic plating and interior design at Light Years. But underneath all those gastronomic gadgets, they're still dishing up some of your faves. We recommend the ‘Pixel Avocado’, pixelated cubes of avo goodness and an extra-terrestrial forest of chilli air-dried kale and edamame hummus. Smashed avo will never be the same again. For sweet-tooths, get a load of the waffles and lemon cheesecake, drizzled with popping candy and gooey dark chocolate sauce. 


One thing is for sure at Short Straw, you definitely haven’t nabbed the short straw of Hawthorn’s brunch selection. With Portuguese Tarts, Eggs Benny, Avocado and Feta Smash, burgers and heaps more, Short Straw promises a morning jam-packed with all your favourite brekky selections. They even dish up New York-style bagels if you’re in a hurry. 


Parisian Baguettes, miso rye bread, puffed Kouign Amann cakes, and buttery croissants, ooh la la! And if you’re a Francophile, you can rejoice in the fact that Gontran Cherrier imports the very best French butter and flour (not to mention the perfected recipes from his old digs in Montmartre). If you’re jumping out of bed at 7am for a taste of France, we recommend the crackling Croque Monsieur Parisen: leg ham, béchamel, and hissing gruyere. Yum. 


The latest member of the Rustica family, Hawthorn’s Rustica Canteen serves up all your sugar-dusted favourites. There are the popular sangas for everyday eats and the sinful Crème Brûlée doughnuts (for when you just want to treat yourself). The fit-out is all class, too. It's already a favourite with the apartments upstairs. '

rustica hawthorn melbourne


For a luxe café experience, visit Hawthorn’s Bawa. Naturally bright and perfect for the coming spring weather, Bawa serves a lil’ bit of everything. There’s the starring ricotta fritters with lavender custard, strawberries and a pecan praline, or Japanese fusion with the sweet potato and kale okonomiyaki, covered in a blanket of grilled chorizo, poached eggs, kewpie and white miso slaw.


Muharam milkshakes bring all the brunch-lovers to the yard with their Insta-famous Nutella Doughnut or Golden Gaytime milkshakes. But Muharam also serve up some pretty hectic breakfast, with healthier selections to cater for everyone’s dietary needs. For some #fitspoinspo, get your hands on the pretty acai smoothie bowl that’ll casually rock up on your Insta-story, or try the red velvet pancakes for a pillowy sweet-tooth hit. 


Whether you feel like doing some yoga or demolishing a bloody good Oatmeal Fried Chicken Burger, Hawthorn Common's got you covered. On Saturday mornings, patrons can take part in yoga classes on deck, or just watch from the comfort of their table as they dig into some Breakfast Gnocchi, because #gainz.


As homely and Melbourne as cafés get, Finders Keepers is a cosy institution for coffee and brunch lovers. Travel the world on their menu with dishes dabbling in Southern, Vietnamese, Italian, and Modern Australian flavours. We recommend the soft shell tacos with southern fried chicken and jalapenos for a zesty chilli hit. The team can also whip you up milkshakes, ice chocolate or coffee, plus herbal tea blends from the Yarra Valley.


One of the city's OG gourmet cafes, Porgie + Mr Jones are serious about delivering quality and sustainable food. Reaching further than brekky, brunch or lunch, Porgie + Mr Jones are running dinner on Friday and Saturday nights too. Their spring dinner menu has yet to be released, but if the winter menu is any indication you can expect dishes on par with grass-fed scotch fillet with café de Paris butter and French fries and Pot de crème with organic maple syrup and sea salt for dessert. For brunch, it's a crime not to order the smashed av with inky black mushrooms. One of the city's signature breakfasts. 


Bread and Jam for Frances is a secret cafe you can enter through Readings. Totally adorable and dedicated to the jam and bread gods, it's also home to artisan bakers, Dench Bakers. Expect a collection of fresh-baked organic sourdoughs and delectable pastries, or sit down to a proper meal and munch on some lunch. We dare you to try the Korean BBQ chicken bulgogi baguette. An absolute killer with its side of kimchi, and sriracha mayo. Get the milk ready.


Dishing up homely Italian food (the meatballs are a must), Rococo is a Hawthorn dining institution. It’s a big space, great for group bookings and special occasions, but also intimate enough for a cosy, low-key date. Think all the very best of Italian cuisine: pizza, pasta, gnocchi and risotto. But Rococo also serves up some underrated brekky like the Eggs Fontina, a mouth-watering combination of toasted ciabatta, organic Berkshire double smoked ham, fontina cheese and two poached eggs #drool.


Operating for over a decade-and-a-half, Ocha is a Melbourne Japanese classic. A mixture of seasonal Australian produce and traditional Japanese technique, Ocha is a fusion-lovers delight. Located in Church Street’s Beehive building, the bright and stylish Japanese restaurant dishes up excellent sushi, sashimi, noodle dishes and heaps more. 


A Burwood Rd gem, Penang Coffee House dishes up deliciously authentic Malaysian hawker-style food in unpretentious surroundings. Great for a quick cheap feed or takeaway, we recommend the Beef Rendang. This is a total sit-back-and-relax sort of environment, with no pressure on the Insta and all the expectations of quality Malaysian food. BYO only. 


Home to some of Melbourne’s best burgers, Humburger on Glenferrie Road has all your beef-and-bun needs covered. The Melburnian comes with beef, spicy mayo, jalapenos, tomato, lettuce, onion and chunky mayo. Order a side of Disco Fries and polish off your fat feed with a salted caramel sundae. Bliss.


Also on Glenferrie is the second outing from the ramen experts at CBD fave Hakata Gensuke. Dishing up some of Melbourne’s best Japanese noodle soups, spice fiends should try the God Fire—tonkotsu broth with Gensuke’s secret “spicy fire”, topped with handmade noodles, pork cha-su, black fungus and spring onion. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.


If you haven't picked up what I’m putting down, Glenferrie Rd is booming right now. Case in point: the recent addition of Melbourne's fourth Fonda Mexican. Now none of us are ever more than a stone's throw from epic Mexi-Bim-Bap bowls and crunchy beef and quinoa burritos. No surprised with this one, but who cares? It's Fonda. 


All-night pizza joint, that is all. No but seriously, the team behind Holy Moly are the heroes we need right now. Let us just tell you that every sort of pizza is on the menu. Think classics like Margherita, Calabrese or Napoletena, then straight out Melbourne pizzas like the Hung AF: topped with bacon, eggs and sausages. But it doesn’t end there, coz there are loads of vegan and gluten-free choices too (try the pumpkin pizza). And then there are the sweet pizzas covered in Columbian chocolate and get the idea. They do a lot of pizza #ded


Get Hooked on old favourites like salt’ n pepper grilled calamari or fish and chips or dig into a feast of mussels cooked in tomato, onion, and white wine with a side of buttery toasted bread to soak up all that saucy goodness. With some seriously quality seafood, Hooked are passionate about giving you the very best with a flavoursome punch.


It may look tiny, but Samurai is a two-level authentic yet affordable Japanese restaurant. A dinner box is packed with your choice of entrée, main, drinks and a soup, and it’s only $16. Add a buck and you get dessert. There are the ultimate favourites like chicken curry and udon, as well as gyoza and the humble miso. Flavours may be simple, but they’re done right. Combine that with a price that doesn’t break the bank and you’ve got a full-house every day of the week.


For modern Vietnamese food, float up to cloud nine at St Cloud on Burwood Road.  The good folk are a favourite for their street eats like 5-spice pork belly net noodles and edgy classics like their pho-nominal pho specials, dependent on their seasonal produce. Combine that with great Aussie ingredients and you’ve got fusion done right.


For another pizza Italian goodness, head on over to Santoni Pizza & Bar. Avo on toast is avo on sourdough with hits of prosciutto, chilli and mozzarella di buffala. Nutella Doughnuts are Zeppole—Italian Doughnuts with Naples dark chocolate mousse, brownie crumbs, clotted cream and coffee gel. Pizzas range from classics to specially tailored items, like The Glenferrie pizza with San Marzano tomatoes. Pair that with some wine straight from Italy and you have yourself a happy night.


Inspired by the head chef’s travels, Crabapple Kitchen will transfer you from the Amalfi Coast to the bustling streets of Hanoi. Serving up tasteful breakfasts, you can begin your Crabapple journey in the south of France at Toulouse with breakfast-styled cassoulet of shredded duck confit and smoky bacon. Then journey onwards to Vietnam with salt and pepper chilli squid and ‘nuoc mam cham sauce. If the holidays are still a little way away, we recommend the hearty Jum & Bender—crispy bacon and fried egg wedged between warm brioche buns with a choice of chunky avo or French fries on the side.


The team behind Viet Star don’t play around. It’s all about authentic Viet food like rice, beef or egg noodle soups to warm your impatient-for-spring hearts. You won’t have to sell a kidney to afford the great food either—it’s all affordable, with most rice noodle soups priced at just $12. Special dishes include a seafood hot pot or the popular the salt n’ pepper soft shell crab.   


We’ve all had a solid Huxtaburger at some point in life. They’re everywhere, and at Hawthorn’s stellar joint, you can get your hands on the favourite finger lickin’ southern fried chicken burger with slaw and jalapeño mayo. Down the road from Yo-Chi and Fonda, it’s another great spot for Friday lunch or a late night snack. 


If you feel like demolishing slabs of chicken, then Gami Chicken & Beer is the place for you. With the original fried chicken with honey mustard and spice on menu, Gami is the ultimate sticky-finger dinner. Comfort food ranges from boned, boneless, or vegetarian fried chicken (it’s fried soy meat) with addictive side nibbles like corn cheese—seasoned loose corn smothered in cheese—or something a little more traditional, like the tteok bok ki (stir-fried rice and fish cakes).  


Playful and sexy, Lulo is a delight for all the senses. The restaurant is South American focused, with dishes designed to share. Inviting you in for lunch and dinner, Lulo are passionate about all things smoky, spicy, sweet and sour. Off their a la carte menu, we’d recommend any dishes from the grill—wild-caught octopus or charred ox tongue with tomato salsa. The wine list includes Spanish and South American choices to get you buzzed and (of course) South American cocktails. Muy bueno.   


For a fancy Friday night dinner, and a modern spin on Chinese cuisine, check out Choi’s. It's pretty pricey, but if you’re willing to dish out some dosh you’ll get signature Shanghai crab dumplings or the Chef’s special: double boiled and fried crispy ribs. With a glass-walled, climate-controlled wine cellar, you can bet Choi’s take their wine selection seriously. Pick from over 6,000 wines to complement your dish.


Not to alarm you or anything but Vaporetto Bar & Eatery has five menus to knock your socks off. If the name hasn’t given it away, the cuisine is hearty Venetian food. Between their bite-sized Cicchetti snacks or the all-time favourite tiramisu on the dessert menu, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. With the bar open ‘til midnight, you can even enjoy a late supper meal every Friday and Saturday night. Must try dish: the gnocchi. Seriously, some of the best we've ever had. 


Lovers of bread, muffins, danishes and all things carbs, you need to know about Knead Bakers, a great little Hawthorn bakery. Grab a bite for brekkie or lunch, and whatever you do, take home a loaf of their fresh-baked sourdough.


If you haven’t been to the Yo-Chi Hawthorn venue, seriously, what have you been doing with yourself?! Yo-Chi Hawthorn serves Melbourne's best all-natural frozen yogurt and vegan smoothies from its Glenferrie Road digs. Its self-serve system means that you can DIY your own delicious healthy frozen yogurt treat, adding a host of mouth-watering toppings such as homemade granola, freshly cut fruit, organic halva, chocolate drops, toasted coconut, nuts and more. Oh, and did we mention that they’ve just introduced loyalty cards too?


The neighbourhood version of Cheers (not to be confused with the actual Hawthorn Cheers bar frequented by students) Gibson’s is a personal favourite. A bottle shop and wine bar combo, it’s delightfully rustic and low-key, with the occasional spot of live music (sometimes impromptu from customers). Grab a glass, some cheese and settle in for the long haul. An all-round parent/date/partner pleaser.


Further up Burwood Road, you’ll find another great wine bar-bottle shop, Small Patch. A slightly fancier affair, drop in to pick up a bottle of something special, or check out one of their wine tasting evenings. Wine and cheese—yes please!


Occupying the space that formerly housed Baranows Cigar Lounge (cough), The Kilburn is the most exciting thing to happen in the Hawthorn bar scene since, well, ever. Now a stylish cocktail and whisky bar, you can expect an array of booze to drink and dazzle, as well as a kickass tapas menu.


If you’re a major fan of Sparrow’s Philly Cheesesteaks than it’s worth knowing that they’ve taken over the kitchen at the new and improved Nevermind Bar. Dimly lit for all the bar vibes, Nevermind is known for epic trivia nights, comfy (and slightly stained) couches, and excellent drinks specials. Throw in the bloody best cheesesteaks going around, and things are looking good. The wine menu's pretty solid, with some seriously vintage cabernet sauvignon if you’re feeling extra fancy.  


Live music, beer, and meaty food, what more do you want? At Hawthorn’s Beer Deluxe, craft beer holds the starring role. You name it, they have it: lagers, all sorts of ale, wheat beers, Belgian, cider, and even low alcohol and gluten-free beers. The beer theme also stretches to their food menu with pizza, burgers, steaks, and even specially tailored beer food like pork belly and wagyu beef sliders. On the ground floor you can expect a surprisingly chic and cosmopolitan ambiance, or head on upstairs for the laid-back, open-air deck feels, with beer on tap from world class breweries.


Parma and beer, done. The Elgin Inn Hotel is one of the iconic rooftop bars around Melbourne. It’s been there since 1929 and has always been a popular spot for mates to meet up over a beer and good food. On Mondays the inn holds a special $15 dollar steak night, and on Tuesdays you can nab epic $15 pub classics. Apart from the chicken parma, expect fish and chips, lamb shank pie and a pretty hefty beef burger. But if you’d prefer a glass (or bottle) of wine, be sure to order a serving of paella. Goes down a treat. 


Amber Craft Beer serves a collection of local and imported craft beers, wines and ciders. And all of these can be enjoyed at the front bar, the games lounge (for some saucy goss), or outside with a friendly game of darts. Specialising in beer, there are six on tap including one special in-house frothy, brewed on-site. Bottled beer is also up for grabs, as well as gluten-free lagers and Belgian ales.   


A treasure trove for gift shopping, The Woodsfolk’s gorgeous styling and delicious contents bring out the inner child in everyone. From men’s grooming products to Rifle Paper Co stationery, quirky Kip & Co bedding, Down to the Woods’ pom-pom garlands, bright wire baskets and friendly welcome mats…no matter what you're browsing for, you'll find it here. 


As Melbourne as you’ll get, Alley Tunes Records + Café bring together lovers of music and coffee. Decked out in old records and vintage posters, you’ll be stepping straight out of the hustle and bustle of Glenferrie Road and straight into a cosy sanctuary. There’s coffee, iced or hot chocolate, tea, soft drinks, and just about everything in between for all your bevy needs. Food is simple, with waffles the main focus, or you can pick up a coffee and muffin after browsing the extensive music collection.


Readings stores are among Melbourne’s best bookstores, and we adore the Hawthorn store in particular. The perfect spot for gift shopping, we could spend days browsing the amazing selection of books, music, cards and more. There’s a cafe out the back, too. Books + coffee = winning at life.


We first met Meneka Premkumar almost two years back, when she was a mere day or two away from opening her dream ethical grocery store. We’re pleased to say Common Good has struck a chord with locals, who have made it their go-to for healthy, organic fruit and veg, dairy and meat, as well as cleaning, baby and beauty products that are good for you and the planet.


For precious and must-have doggo cushions to a Blonde Justin Bieber Air Freshener, the people at Homing Instincts Hawthorn have it all. Honestly, their store is full of things you didn’t think you ever needed, and you'll probably spend hours in there soaking it all up. It’s like Target but Melbourne. Seriously, where else are you gonna get cat bingo?


Kozen is a lovely little yoga studio on Church Street. The classes are small and the teachers really know their stuff, with a combination of traditional Hatha style of yoga and the modern and very stretchy Vinyasa sequence. Whether you’re a beginner keen to get started on that summer bod, or a yoga expert, Kozen has your back…literally if you need help getting into the downward dog position. Hot tip: yoga sesh followed by a chai at Tana = perfect weekend kickstarter.


You bet your brows it’ll sting, but if your mulligrubs are getting a bit out of control, head straight to Brow Theory, one of the best spots for threading in Melbourne. Beautiful brows in every shape are 30-seconds-of-pain away but really we all know the outcomes make it totally worth it.

Getting excited for the warm weather? Check out all the waterfalls you need to visit now here.

Image Credit: Michelle Jarni | Axil Coffee Roasters

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