Once a demographic area deprived of trendy cafes, the northside has really picked up its game over the last couple of years and is now boasting some of the best breakfasts in Sydney! Check out our list of the very best in the business so you locals can eat all the poached eggs and fluffy pancakes you like without driving a metre down the coast.
A shopping centre might not be the first place you’d expect to discover the gorgeous botanical hideaway that is Flower Child, but somehow it just works. Providing an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of Chatswood, the menu here is dictated by the seasons, whilst coffee and pastries are delivered daily from their good friends at The Grounds. Overslept? No worries – breakfast here is served all day long, seven days a week.
The Incinerator Cafe
Situated on the ground floor of the former Willoughby Incinerator building, The Incinerator Café sits above an eclectic art space, which showcases numerous exhibitions throughout the year. Pop in for a cup of The Grounds roasted coffee and a spot of breaky (we love their green kale and halloumi fritters, served with fried egg and sunflower seed hummus) and stay for a side helping of culture.
Breakfast and Japanese food aren’t necessarily two things that traditionally go hand in hand…until now. Headed up by former sushi chef Jun Okamatsu, Cool Mac’s quirky take on traditional dishes, think Eggplant Benedict with roasted eggplant, crisp pancetta, eggs and miso hollandaise or the Kinoko on Toast and this place is proving to have a winning formula. Ideal for the early birds amongst us, the café opens at 6am weekdays, and 7am on weekends.
Sprout Wholefood Café & Grocer
The philosophy behind Sprout Wholefood is simple; to serve food that is good for you, tastes good and makes you feel good. And with a breakfast menu that features dishes such as Paleo Granola (honey roasted nuts, seeds, goji berries, coconut, chia seeds, berries and a choice of milk) and Protein Pancakes (buckwheat pancakes, cashew cream, fruit compote and sweet pistachio dukkah), we think they’ve just about nailed it!
One for pup lovers and owners alike, Dachshund Coffee is (as the name and logo suggests) a doggy friendly coffee and breakfast spot that packs out all week long. A popular choice for families, the buzzing cafe keeps it real with house made jaffles, bacon and egg ‘tradie’ rolls and warm winter porridge, making it the perfect weekend hangout without any fancy pants pretenses.
Fittingly named, this Crows Nest cafe and bar may be small in size but it’s certainly big in just about everything else! Take their hearty big breakfast for instance, which comes with a hefty serving of two eggs, bacon, tomato, hash browns, mushrooms and a side of crusty sourdough. For the health foodies, there’s also a green breakfast featuring all your super-food favourites like kale, spinach and quinoa topped with a perfectly poached egg. You could even go for a refreshing acai bowl, or an organic chia seed pudding. So whether you’re a local or not-so-local, Small Bar is the ultimate brunch spot to leisurely soak up the Sunday rays in a pretty open terrace setting.
Located in the peaceful suburb of Neutral bay, Wild Basket may look like a dream pantry but is actually a café/retail hybrid offering hearty home-style meals and fresh local produce. With their Pablo and Rusty’s coffee and mean breakfast menu, it’s not hard to see why this has become one of the top breakfast spots in Sydney’s north. If you don't consider yourself faint at heart, indulge in their Supa Cheese toastie, filled with three farmhouse cheeses and salami for under $15. Other must-try meals are the open grills featuring zucchini, haloumi and asparagus on sourdough and their delicious variety of omelettes and baked eggs. And the best part? If you love a particular ingredient in your brekkie, you can go straight to the shop front and buy it afterward—talk about convenient!
Laneway Café is situated on the lower North Shore suburb of Cammeray and has won a flock of loyal patrons due to their quality food, modern interior and darn good coffee. If you are yet to hop on the baked eggs bandwagon, Laneway’s Italian baked eggs are sure to set a deliciously high standard with their dish that features tomato, mushroom, bacon, half an avocado and a hint of chorizo. We also can’t speak of this little gem without mentioning their mushroom and goat’s cheese bruschetta, made with basil pesto, a poached egg, prosciutto and, of course, a healthy handful of mushrooms. If you seek something a little sweeter, then give the pancakes with blueberry compote and house made honeycomb butter a try. Be warned though, you will be thinking about this dish for days!
The Penny Royal
Adding to the happening Mosman brunch scene, this northern beaches hole-in-the-wall café offers some of the best coffee in the area. While it may be difficult to score a seat among the morning breakfast rush, the wait becomes well worth it once you do! Our favourite dish at The Penny Royal would have to be the avocado and tomato bruschetta (because, avocado!). For a classic choice, their famous banana bread goes down a treat with a skinny latte and a side of people watching on a weekend morning.
We moustache you a question, have you been to Moustache Café yet? If not, put it at the top of the list for your next North Shore breakfast jaunt! Boasting a gorgeous Manly location, buzzing atmosphere and array of daily specials, the most challenging part is choosing what to order. If you’re feeling adventurous, we advise trying the Thai inspired Issan-style baked eggs which has just the right amount of spice to kick start your day. If you’re after some serious flavour, give the vegetarian gozleme with spinach, feta, mushroom and avocado a go—you’ll never be able to go back to Vegemite on toast again!
Crowned responsible for bringing some Melbourne vibes to North Sydney, The Roots offer some amazing brekkie to this end of Sydney. We love the delicious taste and presentation of their bircher which features house-made strawberry and vanilla bean compote, apple seeds and toasted almonds. In terms of coffee, this industrial style cafe in Sydney offers four types of Single Origin coffee. More importantly, their use of siphons is sure to take you back to your year-ten chemistry classes (minus the boredom and confusion).
COOH Organic Café
North Curl Curl
If you’re looking for a dose of organic goodness in the heart of the North Beaches, look no further than COOH Organic Café. While the trendy interiors, exposed brick and hanging copper pots may catch your eye; the menu is what will win your heart. Our favourite meals are the gluten and dairy free buckwheat pancakes, which come with seasonal fruit, coconut yoghurt and coconut chips. In terms of savoury snacks, the zucchini buckwheat fritters come with tomato, rocket, avocado and either bacon or smoked salmon and pair perfectly with a colourful fresh juice. No matter what you order, with an eighty per cent gluten free menu and a name referring to the organic acid found in food, COOH is sure to serve you the kind of brekkie your body will thank you for!
Nestled within the beachside suburb of Avalon, Smalltown has become a Northern Beaches favourite since opening its doors early last year. Head here for some Single Origin roasted coffee, smoothies served in cute milk bottles, and a colourful array of cold pressed juices. Beverages aside, this little Sydney café sports a unique seasonal menu that makes the drive well worth it. If you’ve got a sweet tooth you simply must try (and Instagram) the ricotta pancakes topped with poppy seeds, maple syrup, fresh berries and edible flowers. If a more savoury dish is on the cards, you will love the whole trout fillet served with sous vide eggs, asparagus, pickled beets and fresh rye sourdough. With so many creative dishes to explore, we only have one tip: come hungry!
The Moody Chef
Some people are into savoury breakfasts (legends), while others are keener on a sweet plate first thing in the morning (weirdos). Never have the argument again, because St Leonards café The Moody Chef offer plenty of both option. We’re more than happy to chow down on the omelette of green eggs and ham, while the sweet tooths will jump for joy at the mere mention of the orange and blueberry pancakes. And with three locations within comfortable walking distance of each other, there’s triple the chance of striking gold.
Celsius Coffee Co.
If you ever need to be reminded just what Sydney has to offer—we’re talking epic food and views—Celsius Coffee Co is where you head. Perched on the ferry wharf at Kirribilli, this quaint, glass-fronted café offers a delicious all day menu that’s served with a side of those impressive Sydney harbour views we mentioned earlier. Filled with options that are both naughty and nice, choose from the likes of the super greens breakfast with sautéed kale and lime avocado puree, or treat yo’self to the Celsius waffles with berries, maple syrup and (the best part) peanut butter cream.
Mowbray Lane Cove
Lane Cove North
With a farm-to-table philosophy, Mowbray Lane Cove is certainly not horsing around. A menu with a passion for fresh ingredients and seasonality comes to life through classic meals with a twist at this Lane Cove cafe. The Mowbray benedict is a fine example—rich hollandaise sauce with runny poached eggs and wilted spinach, served on field mushrooms as a toast replacement. As for our carb lovers (we would never forget you), the open wagyu rump steak sandwich is everything!
Alchemist Espresso is a brunch lover’s dream. Chia pudding, check. Retro interiors, check. House-made smoky bourbon-and-honey-relish, check. But there’s even more to this Cammeray fave. With a range of adventurous meal ops (go for the warm Moroccan spiced chicken), and tea served in laboratory beakers, this industrial-styled café is perfect for your next Northside adventure. Did we mention the table numbers are elements from the periodic table?! Learning whilst eating is the kind of education we can get behind.
Little Giant Roasters
If you haven’t yet tried shakshuka (prepared in a cast iron dish, chorizo, basil, spices and eggs), Little Giant Roasters is what you should be typing in to your GPS right now. Besides this melt-in-your-mouth dish, the za’atar avo, along with the autumn plate are just a couple of extra delicious reasons to give Willoughby a visit this weekend. There epic selection of pastries can’t go unmentioned, best paired with a cheeky chai or piccolo. Grab some friends and chai it out for yo’ self!
Or, if you'd prefer to grab brunch in the Inner West, click here.
Flower Child | Image credit: Nikki To