We have scoured the state capitals to find the finest first meals in Australia. And the winners are...
They might be known for their sandwiches, but did you know this little ADL corner cafe does a heck of a champagne breakfast? If that's a little too much like Sunday morning coming down, they'll also do you a simple boiled egg with toast soldiers.
11 Ebenezer Place, Adelaide
What a beautiful thing it is that Jerome Batten, of Sourced Grocer fame, has bestowed on Grey Street. This understated space has fine architectural bones and the all-day menu belts out inspired pairings that you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else. Fresh-baked breads and sweet miracles, all produced on site, line the counter.
77 Grey Street, South Brisbane
Stylish and sophisticated in a leafy laneway, yet still able to impart a welcoming warmth, Gerard's kicks Saturdays and Sundays into gear with some interesting and refreshingly different breakfast offerings. This restaurant has won local devotees with a menu that crosses Middle Eastern borders into North Africa and beyond.
14/15 James Street, Fortitude Valley
Putia Pure Food
Chef Dominique Rizzo sprinkled fairy dust on this once-sleepy corner of Banyo, and up sprang an enchanting breakfast spot, an instant community hub that blends contemporary cool with down-home honesty. There's a garden out the back to supplement carefully sourced and deftly treated produce. Even humble waffles are elevated to something more; a spiced pumpkin version, say, with salted caramel sauce and mascarpone.
Shop 4, 17 Royal Parade, Banyo
If there has ever been a better named establishment serving toasted sandwiches, we'd like to hear about it. And in fact, the story goes that Ghostface Killah, so taken with the name, once played a free gig in the alley near the shop. Celebrate the awesomeness every day with a "pear grillz" – a toasted sandwich of blue cheese, pear and lime chutney.
Grand Lane, Perth (corner of Wellington and Barrack streets)
Alistair Wise's pastry shop isn't just a thing of beauty, it's a place of sticky, shiny, exciting deliciousness. Pecan sticky buns are covered in thick caramel, ice-cream hot dogs are served on soft brioche buns. Wagon wheels, tim tams and polly waffles all get pimped up, and sweet-filled tart shells wear soft floppy crepes like fancy hats.
341 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart
Pigeon Hole Cafe
What better way to kick off your foodie weekend than a leisurely breakfast at one of Hobart's best cafes? Pigeon Hole is one of those cafes where the only problem is choosing: baked eggs with jamon, soused onion and a generous sprinkling of herbs and grana padano, or rye and spelt porridge with raisins, hazelnuts and agave? Or both?
93 Goulburn Street, West Hobart
Artisan bread is the basis of the food at this joint. The breakfast and lunch menu is tightly curated to minimise decision fatigue for busy worker types: there's house-made muesli with seasonal fruits and raspberry labna, an avocado smash with Persian feta, pickled onion and a poached egg; and a quinoa and coconut cream pudding with cocoa dust to balance the too-healthy ledger.
33 Guildford Lane, Melbourne
Chef Emma Jeffrey has come up with what must be some of the most highly stylised takes on brunch we've seen in some time. Among the menu heroes are the trop-tastical North Shore, featuring smoky ham hock hash, grilled pineapple, jalapeno pepper and poached egg, and a sweet/savoury doughnut burger (yes, that's a doughnut as a bun) stuffed with lobster, green mango and papaya slaw, cucumber jam and Sriracha mayo.
736 Malvern Road, Armadale
Just a dozen dishes (plus a couple of daily specials) take care of breakfast and lunch. Crepes stuffed with cinnamon-spiced ricotta and raisins with a crunchy sprinkle of honeycomb and pistachio have been an early favourite, and the breakfast cassoulet of Toulouse sausage and braised pork betrays the pair's long history of Melbourne bistro cooking.
18/34 Station Street, Sandringham
Shane Donelly's short menu musters all the brunch food groups without looking like it's ticking boxes. Eggs are scrambled with prawns, crab and speck and served with pickled veg and watercress, or fried and layered on a bun with bacon, cotechino, onions and hot sauce. Three nice waffle triangles – crisp on the outside, spongy in – come with a generous blob of quark to spread around, nicely crisped slices of pancetta and two sweet halves of grilled fig.
16-20 Leeds Street, Footscray
Chef Gerard Phelan comes via Jones' Moor Please in Hepburn Springs, and his menu ranges through breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes, some avowedly healthy and tasty – an acai bowl full of banana, date, berries and buckinis, a superfood salad of kale and quinoa and all the other good stuff – as well as plenty that's just tasty.
21 Brougham Street, Eltham
Square and Compass
There was that thing at that place in South Yarra where they served avocado on toast with a smear of Vegemite. "Trust us," the menu said. We did, and it was good, and now it is practically Australia's national dish, or at least a serious regional plate. "Trust us," says the waitperson brandishing another menu, this time in East Melbourne, and this time with toast, peanut butter, heirloom tomatoes and toasted peanuts. And lo, it strangely works.
222 Clarendon Street, East Melbourne
The joy of Ruby D's is their ability to walk that line between pure pleasure and pure paleo – and nail it. A world of excellent coffee from cold drip to bulletproof exists in the same universe alongside gingerbread milkshakes and gluten-free bread. It's the ultimate breakfast indulgence-health-food-mega-mix. Just add kale.
1/173-179 Bronte Road, Queens Park
Edition Coffee Roasters
Japanese Nordic fusion: it's not as crazy as it sounds. And happily it doesn't all come down to pickled fish on toast. At this paradise for coffee and food nerds, it's all about the black rice and the "yakuza's breakfast", a big pile of fluffy hotcakes doused in miso caramel and grilled pineapple.
265 Liverpool Street, Darlinghurst
When it comes to salty brunches, this Bondi outpost of Bills is a winner. Order a coffee and kick back in the sun-drenched room with those famous ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter.
79 Hall Street, Bondi
There's only one inner-west cafe that's harder to get into on Saturday morning than West Juliett, and that's right here. House-made pickles, honey from their own bees, small-batch and single-origin coffee – if it's DIY and local, you can bet you'll find it here.
441 Illawarra Road, Marrickville
Breakfast isn't just the most important meal of the day, it's also the most fraught meal of the day. Put a foot wrong, and there goes the weekend. So very luckily, Two Chaps only put their feet right, whether that's house-made hash browns with a perfect poached egg, or blueberry crumpets with creme fraiche. Still going? Check out the counter out front exploding with doughnuts and old-fashioned cakes.
122 Chapel Street, Marrickville