It’s been a bumper six months for new Melbourne cafe openings, and we’re sure as heck not complaining. Here’s where to head for an acai bowl fix, lazy carb-laden lunch, or 3pm sweet treat. Behold Melbourne’s best new cafes of 2016… so far.
Melbourne CBD & Balwyn
If you choose your breakfast destination based as much on the lighting and Insta-potential as taste, you’re gonna love White Mojo. Now in Balwyn as well as the CBD, the sister cafes to Hash Specialty coffee serve up serious #foodporn, including THAT soft shell crab croissant burger, and a smoking cauliflower pana cotta number that beggars belief.
The Penny Drop
It’s an East-West flavour fusion at Box Hill’s bright and airy new all-day eatery, The Penny Drop. The menu is epic, so bring your appetite. Start the day right with whipped avocado, go the Wagyu cheesy with tonkatsu sauce for lunch, and polish off dinner with the Mandarin Brûlée. Noms guaranteed.
From the Dr Morse crew comes Collingwood’s new pint-sized cafe, Plug Nickel, which seats only ten. The focus here is on excellent coffee and takeaway eats, but you can grab a perch and gobble down a breakfast roti, soup, sandwich, sauso roll or noodle salad. There’s an on site hairdresser and bike shop, but no kitchen, with the food ferried over from Dr Morse each morning.
It’s 10/10 for presentation at new Preston cafe, Sartoria. While reams of material, sewing machines and dressmaker’s dummies hint at the building’s former life in fashion, today it’s your plate that will be the best dressed in town. Open for breakfast, brunch and lunch, the sizeable menu includes Where’s Marcel? beans, tempting brunch cocktails, a ‘New York brunch’ and The Organza—a moreish mound of ricotta gnocchi, with zucchini flower, cherry tomatoes, pangrattato, mint, chilli, and pecorino.
If chia pudding is your crack, you’ll be a happy little clam at Melbourne’s newest clean eatery, Happy Place. An interesting collab between celeb nutritionist and happy hippie Lola Berry and St Ali’s Salvatore Malatesta (especially as they don’t serve caffeine), Happy Place is a dinky space at South Melbourne market that’s mainly built for takeaway. Take your sugar-free, dairy-free, gluten-free bud and grab a Paleo salad, crystal infused water, and beetroot latte to go.
The health conscious bayside set have a new favourite in vegan cafe Matcha Mylkbar, where the eggs are vegan, the lattes golden, and the superfood smoothies come served in skulls with witty names like the Tall, Darth & Handsome. The plant-based longevity bowls are a healthy, tasty lunch option, but we can’t go past the soy chicken burger on a pea green Matcha bun.
Everything Attica alumni touch turns to gold, and new Ripponlea cafe Lot 3 shines bright. Housed in the old station master’s house, this excellent eatery is dishing up simple but delicious Sicilian inspired eats, top notch coffee from Proud Mary, and house-made sodas. Settle in at the cosy communal table and chow down on the pasta of the day, or grab a pork jowl sanga or meatball sub to go.
From the folks behind celebrated Melbourne cafes Tall Timber and Touchwood comes Carnegie’s Left Field. The design footprint is familiar, as are the queues and the first class fodder. There’s street-side seating for warmer days, and a whopping Middle Eastern-inspired menu that includes cookies n cream donut sliders, smashed avo on quinoa toast with mint, beetroot hummus, goats cheese, sumac and dukkah, and a braised Morrocan lamb shoulder.
SMÄK Food House
For minimal Scando styling and seriously nutritious eats, South Yarra’s SMÄK is the goods. We’re talking silverbeet and leek pancakes, buckwheat matcha crepes, protein packed salads, smoothie bowls, kombucha, and even good ol’ fashioned coffee. Every element of this slick operation has been considered, and it shows.
Serving up puppacinos with doggy treat sprinkles, plus regular people food, Middle Child is a new Melbourne cafe that bucks the trend for staid and serious in favour of a truckload of colour and good vibes. All their food’s designed to be eaten on the go, but we suggest taking a load off on their rainbow hued bench and sampling your way through their hot chocolate menu.
Meanwhile, over in the other Vale, George Jones is a great new all-day eatery with on-site coffee roasting. Named for the burb’s first business owner, George Jones has the bases covered: sleek but welcoming fitout, liquor license, and a broad, punter-pleasing menu of classics with a twist like green eggs n ham, and a parma with basil mayo coleslaw.
We’re all about balance at The Urban List, which basically means one day we’ll smash burgers and pizza, and the next we’ll be all acai bowls and maca powder. New Prahran cafe Fourth Chapter gets us, dishing up brekkie and lunch options that swing for nourish bowls to pulled beef brisket cheese burgers, and a strawberry shortcake smoothie with whipped coconut cream.
Following on from their CBD Canteen opening, the Rustica Sourdough babes have brought their epic breads and mouth-watering pastries to Richmond’s Swan Street. Serving breakfast and lunch, Rustica Canteen's hearty menu ranges from the healthy (breakfast salad) to the decadent (eggs benny with pulled pork, or roasted lamb shoulder baguette). Don’t leave without a little something sweet for 3pm munchies.
Need a little pick me up but don’t want to loiter? Then drop by the small but perfectly formed Capeside Coffee in Heidelberg for a takeaway cup o’ Seven Seeds, Doughboys doughnut, muesli, pastry or gourmet sandwich. You can eat in too, you just need to find room. No mean feat in the teeny tiny, takeaway-centric space.
From the team behind Axil Coffee Roasters, Mayday is a fresh and light filled corner cafe on Bridge Road serving exceptional coffee and seriously drool-worthy eats. Sweet tooths need look no further than the s’more waffle sandwich, while the citrus cured ocean trout with potato and fennel croquettes will tickle the more savoury-inclined palate.
Image Credit: Rustica Canteen by Helena Rae for The Urban List