Good Food Guide 2022: Top 50 Melbourne cafes

Left Field cafe in Carnegie.
Left Field cafe in Carnegie. Photo: Armelle Habib

From breakfast ramen to swish sandwiches, check out 50 of the best casual eats around town, presented by Vittoria Coffee.

25 Tilba St

ESPRESSO

Steeped in 1950s nostalgia down to the gold lettering on the window and burnt orange colour scheme, the sibling of the nearby Cannoli Bar sports a captivating range of Italian pastries (hello, organic persimmon and custard tarts), ugly-delicious pies and pour-your-own coffee from a Bialetti moka pot.

25 Tilba St, Aberfeldie

279

JAPANESE

This minimalist shopfront specialises in musubi – traditional rice balls – with toppings including chilli-cured cod roe and mustard greens or salted kelp. Supersize it into (almost) the full English brekkie with bacon and eggs, or follow the Zen route with miso soup and green tea.

279 Victoria St, West Melbourne, 0401 343 310, 279victoriast.co

26/04/21 The Sweet potato toast at Arra Wine Bar, Fitzroy.  Photograph by Chris Hopkins

Sweet potato with burrata and broccolini at Arra. Photo: Chris Hopkins

Advertisement

Arra

COFFEE AND WINE

Sick of the same-old? This sleek spot comes to the rescue with Hong Kong-style breakfast pineapple buns, lunchtime okonomiyaki burgers and dinners of satay steak gratin topped with instant noodle crumble. At night Single O beans make way for minimal-intervention wine.

13 Smith St, Fitzroy, 0450 669 851, arraandco.com

Babajan

PROVEDORE

This Middle Eastern cafe no longer offers dining in, but the take-home riches ensure it remains a culinary goldmine. Grab a flaky halloumi pie, oozy potato and eggplant moussaka or falafel wrapped in house-made Turkish bread, or stock your pantry with olives, rice pilaf and harissa.

713 Nicholson St, Carlton North, 03 9388 9814, babajan.com.au

Bagels Baby

SANDWICHES

A former butcher shop is now a 20-seat corner cafe devoted to fresh bagels packed with fillings. You'll find a classic smoked salmon, crunchy chicken katsu or brisket and gruyere with sauerkraut and pickles. Vegans are looked after with a tempeh BLAT, which uses liquid smoke and maple syrup to recreate a bacon flavour bomb.

36 Derby St, Pascoe Vale, bagelsbaby.com.au

Beggs & Acon

BREAKFAST

No points for guessing what this place specialises in. The world's best breakfast duo are glammed up here, whether stuffed in a doughnut, turned into an empanada or layered in a roll filled with chives, hollandaise and chilli jam. Don't miss the house-made hash browns.

24 Chatham St, Prahran, 03 9098 0550, beggsacon.com.au

Bikaner Sweet & Curry Cafe

INDIAN

Top-value thalis and big-flavoured curries are the kicking-off point for this diner that is low on frills – but subcontinental desserts deserve a shout-out. Expect creamy kulfi (ice-cream), Bengali chum-chums and dense milk-based fudge known as burfi, with flavours swinging from chocolate to carrot.

52B Foster St, Dandenong, 03 9792 9246, bikaner-sweet-curry-cafe.business.site

Black Star Pastry

BAKERY

That much-posted strawberry and watermelon cake alone draws crowds to the lab-like Melbourne outpost of this Sydney pastry juggernaut. The blackforest cake is also hauntingly beautiful; ditto the ethereal dragon cake. For life beyond dessert, there are excellent croissants and savoury pastries.

2C Acland St, St Kilda, 03 9989 0944, blackstarpastry.com.au

Rigatoni with vodka, basil and parmesan at Brunetti Flinders Lane, Melbourne.

Rigatoni with vodka sauce, basil and parmesan at Brunetti Oro. Photo: Gareth Sobey

Brunetti Oro

ITALIAN

The snazzy city location of this cafe stalwart split from its Carlton flagship this year, but remains a place for all appetites. Prop over espresso at the brushed-gold coffee counter, browse cakes at the pasticceria, or settle at a table for pizza and eggplant parma. Whatever you do, don't forget the cannoli.

250 Flinders Ln, Melbourne, 03 9069 3169, brunettioro.com.au

Ca Com

BANH MI

Anchovy chef Thi Le's pop-up banh mi window has become its own stylish shopfront next door to the Richmond restaurant. Crunchy rolls from Phuoc Thanh bakery are spread with red curry paste and stuffed to bursting with premium fillings such as Laotian sausage and turmeric chicken. It's one of the best banh mis in a town that loves them.

336 Bridge Rd, Richmond

Cafe Colores

SOUTH AMERICAN

You literally cannot miss this newcomer, which glows with the space-age intensity of LED-lit panels (luckily for staff, the colour scheme changes each month). Industry Beans supplies the coffee and the owners' South American heritage guides the short, snacky menu starring pasteles, the flaky Colombian pastry.

783 High St, Reservoir, cafecolores.com.au

Cibi

JAPANESE

In a delightful case of cultural inversion, this 12-year-old trailblazer has spawned a Tokyo offshoot. The Melbourne mothership expanded to bigger digs a few years ago but continues to offer traditional breakfasts, miso baked eggs and soba noodle salads alongside a range of covetable homewares.

33-39 Keele St, Collingwood, 0481 398 686, cibi.com.au

Craftwork Roasting Co

COFFEE

This ethical brew bar in a '60s era warehouse opened in September 2020 and recently unveiled a 20-seat cafe and retail space. Co-owner Rebecca Heaney, who has a background in design, brings a minimalist mid-century feel to the fit-out and also bakes in-house almond croissants and fruit danishes which sit alongside baguettes and Pie Thief pies.

Shop 1, 27 Peel St, Eltham, 03 9424 0346, craftworkroasting.com.au

Florian

CONTEMPORARY

French village life is reimagined beautifully at this Rathdowne Village star. Marble-topped tables, antique crockery and toasty vibes set the stage for greeting the sun with soft-boiled eggs on rye under a blanket of bearnaise and comte, or celebrating lunch with comfort-centric pastas and elegant sangas.

617 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North, floriancarlton.com.au

Good Times Milk Bar

CONTEMPORARY

The Truth in Naming Award goes to this former milk bar, now featuring high-concept brekkies (the citrus-cured salmon with panko-crumbed egg floats our boat), or potato gems riding shotgun with fried chicken burgers. Bring your dog for a puppuccino in the artifically turfed courtyard.

83 Tucker Rd, Bentleigh, 03 9557 4868, goodtimesmilkbar.com.au

Greta

ITALIAN

The brief is simple, but perfectly executed: a sleek city sandwich bar with good booze and a punchy little aperitivo menu. This is where you'll find a buttery crisp pan-fried mortadella and olive sandwich oozing with scamorza in a chic Chris Connell-designed room.

450 Flinders Ln, Melbourne, gretamelbourne.com.au

Greta sandwich. 
Beef cheek sandwich at Greta.
For Gemima Cody sandwich cover for Good Food, June 15, 2021

Deli sandwich at Greta. Photo: Supplied

Hardware Societe

CONTEMPORARY

The much-loved original of the laneway hero may have closed (RIP), but its younger sibling is bigger and (dare we say) even better. The pink-and-green warehouse setting offers Parisian vibes, with a brunch menu that includes prawn-and-lobster rolls and bellinis.

10 Katherine Pl, Melbourne, 03 9621 2100, hardwaresociete.com

Hector's Deli South Melbourne.

Hector's schnitzel sandwich. Photo: Jana Langhorst

Hector's Deli

SANDWICHES

Hector's turns the humble sandwich into an occasion, with classic combos done exceedingly well. Try the rare roast beef on Turkish sourdough, or a crisp chicken schnitzel that's bursting out of its bun. They recently expanded from a backstreet window to a sleek new flagship cafe in South Melbourne, with an expanded menu (and lengthy queues) to match.

Shop 1, 94 Buckingham St, Richmond; 253 Coventry St, South Melbourne; hectorsdeli.com.au

Higher Ground

CONTEMPORARY

Come for the award-winning heritage-listed room, stay for the powerhouse performance of cafe culture. From globetrotting all-day brunch fare to the simple European delights of grilled steak or parmesan gnocchi by night, this is the place to wow out-of-towners and feel smug that it's ours.

650 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, 03 8899 6219, darlinggroup.com.au

The Age GOOD FOOD,
Ima Cafe Cafe review ,  pork tonkatsu  . Pic Simon Schluter 6 December 2018.

Pork tonkatsu set at Ima. Photo: Simon Schluter

Ima Project Cafe

JAPANESE

Onsen eggs and avo toast with nori paste, karaage chicken burgers and hibachi-grilled salmon rice sandos. When a chef alum of Supernormal and a Japanese interior designer get together, it means excellent food in a Zen-like setting. The minimal-waste philosophy embraces a serious recycling program.

69 Elgin Street, Carlton, 03 9348 1118, imacafe.co

Industry Beans

COFFEE

These coffee veterans have had a big year, with the Fitzroy original moving up the street and a new roastery opening at Chaddy. The striking glass box outside the shopping behemoth is a multifaceted caffeine hub – thankfully the coffee-rubbed wagyu burger is still on the menu.

Chadstone Shopping Centre, 1341 Dandenong Rd, Chadstone, 03 9417 1034, industrybeans.com

Jerry's Milkbar

AUSTRALIAN

Did someone say institution? The decades-old Elwood stayer was rescued from closure this year; they've kept the cheerful striped awning and faux ice-creams out front but smartened up the interiors. The menu slings baked eggs, meatball subs and other treats Jerry would no doubt approve of.

345 Barkly St, Elwood, 0481 190 122

Lady Bower Kitchen

CONTEMPORARY

Spread over neighbouring shopfronts, this welcoming local is the home of bread-based good times such as fruit toast, crumpets and a selection of toasties. A thoughtful little booze list adds extra rev. Bring the kids – hell, bring the dog. It's that kind of place.

1A Marchant Ave, Reservoir, 03 9469 5851, ladybower.com.au

Lankan Tucker

SRI LANKAN

Hiran Kroon and Nerissa Jayasingha bring a cool edge to the food of their homeland. You can still get your eggs and bacon fix, but the irresistibly named hip hopper – featuring egg and string hoppers, curry and sambals – is the menu highlight.

486 Albion St, Brunswick West, 03 9386 8248, lankantucker.com

Left Field

BREAKFAST

Teaching the art of queueing for breakfast to the south-east, Left Field is on target with its democratic pitch, providing sauteed greens and beetroot hummus on quinoa toast to appease the wellness gods and letting rip with peanut butter and caramelised banana porridge with honeycomb for everyone else.

358 Koornang Rd, Carnegie, 03 9578 2043, leftfieldcarnegie.com

The Left-Handed Chef

ISRAELI

Ehud Malka loves hummus so much he opened a hummusiya, a casual restaurant devoted to the Middle East's favourite chickpea spread. Silken, nutty, earthy and light, it's best pimped with fried cauliflower or stuffed in a pita with spiced lamb. Also good: the epic challah chicken schnitzel.

108 Bank Street, South Melbourne, 0460 866 412, lhceatery.com

Le Shoppe

DELI

Scott Pickett's swooningly stylish bolthole next door to his upmarket bistro Chancery Lane gives the CBD lunch a sophisticated rev-up. Grab a booth to enjoy a hot pork belly and crackle roll, and hit it from Wednesday to Friday evenings for all things aperitivo.

430 Little Collins St, Melbourne, 03 9089 7550, leshoppe.com.au

GOOD FOOD - Liminal Cafe. Photo by Jason South. 7th May 2019.

CBD power brunches at Liminal Cafe. Photo: Jason South

Liminal

CONTEMPORARY

Anchoring a Collins Street tower of power, this glam lobby hotspot is just the place for a high-powered breakfast confab. At lunch, the rotisserie chicken hot roll has a cult following, while the coffee from Square One Coffee Roasters stands out from the crowd.

Ground floor, 161 Collins St, Melbourne, 03 9639 8264, liminalmelbourne.com

Lune Croissanterie

PATISSERIE

If you can't snare a ticket to Lune Lab – the glass cube where Kate Reid lets her imagination run free – settling for any of her pastries is no hardship. Our pick is the ham and gruyere croissant with a hint of mustard. Or try Moon Cruller, Reid's latest venture celebrating the doughnut-like pastry (pictured), just up the street.

119 Rose St, Fitzroy, lunecroissanterie.com; 50 Rose St, Fitzroy. mooncruller.com

Maria

SOUTH AMERICAN

This cafe, close to the 1000 Steps Kokoda Memorial Walk, inserts chipotle adobo chilli into its eggs benny and supersizes its chilaquiles (breakfast nachos, served with brisket, refried beans and a fried egg). There's also a sub-major in vegan food and wellness smoothies.

56-58 Main St, Upwey, 03 9754 8101, mariamelbourne.com.au

Market Lane

COFFEE

Melbourne's best coffee? Quite possibly, and while Fleur Studd has moved her coffee roasting operation to Brunswick East, the Prahran flagship still ranks up there for quality caffeination. For the peckish there are pastries as well as the delights of the market just metres away.

Shop 13, Prahran Market, 163 Commercial Rd, South Yarra, 03 9804 7434, marketlane.com.au

Matcha Mylkbar

VEGAN

Chris Hemsworth's endorsement has sprinkled stardust over this all-vegan menu featuring the famous poached egg (hint: it's not an actual poached egg, but a mix of agar-agar, sweet potato, coconut milk and linseed protein). Every second person orders a blue algae latte.

72A Acland St, St Kilda, 03 9534 1111, matchamylkbar.com

Midi Coffee

SANDWICHES

From the crew behind Fitzroy sandwich-and-coffee staple Burnside comes this pint-sized sibling tucked behind the Corner Hotel. Seven Seeds brew is served alongside a selection of toasties, sambos, muffins and bagels – the roast chicken with lemony mayo and crunchy cos is a winner.

45 Wangaratta St, Richmond, instagram.com/midi.3121

Monforte Viennoiserie

PATISSERIE

Line up at this hole-in-the-wall gem in the leafy backstreets for Giorgia McAllister Forte's elegant selection of hand-made, Italian-influenced pastries. The small-batch treats, which change daily and sell out early, might include an airy croissant with leatherwood honey and sea salt or pork, fennel and hazelnut romesco scrolls. A quiet triumph.

585 Canning St, Carlton North, monforteviennoiserie.com

Morning Market

PROVEDORE

Andrew McConnell's pandemic baby is a beauty. The superchef's Fitzroy foray into groceries proved so popular he has now opened southside, with fresh-cut flowers and Baker Bleu bread. A typically on-song menu includes "continental" rolls with Meatsmith ham, mortadella, salami and 'nduja along with provolone and pickles.

59 Gertrude St, Fitzroy, 03 9277 9799; 579 High Street, Prahran, 03 9277 9798, morning.market

Napa

BRUNCH

Named after the Californian wine region, this breezy brunch spot is as light and bright as the US state. Expect well-executed favourites from folded eggs to "nourish" bowls and quinoa porridge, as well as a blowout milk-bun hot dog with pork sausage, Swiss cheese, maple bacon, pickles and gochujang ketchup.

451 Burke Rd, Glen Iris, 03 9824 8414, napagleniris.com.au

Anchovy on toast at Napier Quarter cafe and wine bar in Fitzroy.

Napier Quarter's anchovy on toast is a must-order. Photo: Eddie Jim

Napier Quarter

CONTEMPORARY

Start with the anchovy, boiled egg and salsa verde on toast (everyone does). It's the must-order item on Eileen Horsnell's menu and a reason to get there before 5pm – this snack doesn't do night shift. Whatever time you land, you'll find produce-driven perfection matched with interesting wine.

359 Napier St, Fitzroy, 03 9416 0666, napierquarter.com.au

Neruda's

SOUTH AMERICAN

Move over, coffee: here it's all about yerba, the rich herbal drink beloved by Chileans (and said to be high in antioxidants). Feel the buzz amid the eclectic room and chase it with empanadas, eggs with chorizo and arepas or even fluffy potato mash topped with fried fish.

Shop 6, 210 Albion St, Brunswick, 03 7001 8344

Nine Yards

CONTEMPORARY

Feeling patriotic? The Aussie French toast with wattleseed sugar, Milo mascarpone, Anzac crumble, macadamias, banana and torched marshmallow will whip you into a flag-waving lather – as will the kids' Vegemite and cheese toastie. But be assured, the menu at this heritage-listed stable is equally adept with global flavours.

228-230 Dorcas St, South Melbourne, 03 8676 7820, nineyardseatery.com.au

Ona Coffee Brunswick.

Ona's tiered deck area. Photo: Supplied

Ona Coffee

COFFEE

The Canberra kings opened their Melbourne outpost last year with up to 20 brews, including a "reserve" selection of the most exceptional beans vacuum-packed into individual serves. You can also get stuck into cascara, the tea made from coffee cherries, and eats including a mighty kimchi toastie.

22 Ovens St, Brunswick, onacoffeemelbourne.com

Patricia Coffee Brewers

COFFEE

Do one thing and do it well – it's a mantra this caffeine-obsessed bolthole takes seriously. The tiled entrance plate reads "standing room only", and they aren't joking. Styled like an Old World coffee bar, expect daily pastries, quality brews and not a seat in sight.

493-495 Little Bourke St, Melbourne, patriciacoffee.com.au

Port of Call

CONTEMPORARY

When it comes to good-looking bayside locals, it's Port of Call for the win. Sporting a Scandi-maximalist design in mint green and terracotta, it attracts crowds akin to the Boxing Day sales for a menu that swings happily from harissa scrambled eggs to panko fried chicken.

7 Bay Rd, Sandringham, 03 9533 4657, portofcall.com.au

Prior

CONTEMPORARY

There are few prettier cafes than this, with its blushing hues and precision brickwork, but this place leans into its Insta-friendliness with a menu you can't help but like, too. Expect a four-cheese toastie with slow-cooked onion jam, towering waffle stacks and vibrant green smoothies.

637 High St, Thornbury, 03 9042 6074, priorthornbury.com.au

Rat the Cafe

SUSTAINABLE

No, it's not the urban pest but the acronym for "root and tip", buzzing bywords for a delicious waste-not approach. Tuck into poached eggs with pesto made from leek and beetroot, French toast using yesterday's bread and bircher muesli with feijoas donated from the neighbourhood.

72 Wales St, Thornbury, ratthecafe.com.au

Riddick

BREAKFAST

The crowd dresses to impress at this former bank, now clad in statement-making livery of marble and murals. From waffles piled high with dulce de leche, to roasted cauliflower salad with sumac-sprinkled labne, the food is every bit as pretty as your best threads.

Shop 1, 3 The Mall, Templestowe Lower, 03 9850 2680, riddik.com.au

Stan's Deli

SANDWICHES

The vibe is old-school New York but this sandwich-sporting hero has plenty of modern twists. A Jerusalem artichoke toastie with horseradish mayo isn't your everyday fare; nor is a chicken schnitzel focaccia with fermented honey garlic mayo. The Small Batch coffee also deserves a shout out.

248B Glenferrie Rd, Malvern, 03 8589 8407, stansdeli.com.au

There

CONTEMPORARY

"There is no there there", as Gertrude Stein wrote, but Footscray's There is most definitely a thing. A magazine-worthy renovation exemplifies the suburb's upwardly mobile evolution, while the menu is egg-forward, from poached to scrambled, with add-ons including potato rosti and smoked creme fraiche.

90-96 Maribyrnong St, Footscray, 0493 121 555, there.net.au

Udom House

THAI

Aum Phithakphon (ex-Hardware Societe) lives upstairs from her cosy Thai-influenced cafe, so it's also her lounge room complete with record player, potted plants and mismatched furniture. Coffee is the main draw with more than 20 different drinks that go beyond the standard flat white (pictured). Snacks include thick kaya toast and pies with spiced jackfruit or chicken curry. Full of art, heart, character and care.

343 Victoria St, West Melbourne

Via Porta

ITALIAN

The real thing may now be within reach but in the meantime, try this mid-century vision of terrazzo floors and marble counters infused with a sun-bleached sense of la dolce vita. Via Porta answers cosmopolitan cravings with the big-hearted flavours of 'nduja-spiked eggs, stracciatella-oozing lasagne and eggplant parma in toastie form.

677 Whitehorse Rd, Mont Albert, 03 8256 4866, viaporta.com.au

Wild Life

BAKERY

Circular windows at the rear offer ringside seats to watch bakers at work making acclaimed sourdough and all things carby. Toasties, pies and filled baguettes make this former mechanics' workshop hum with high-GI energy, backed by Industry Beans coffee and a sharp minimal-intervention wine list.

90 Albert St, Brunswick East, 03 8060 0547, wildlifebakery.com

This article features in the Good Food Guide 2022 magazine, published on November 30 with presenting partners Citi and Vittoria Coffee, and free with The Age. Also on sale from December 7 in newsagents and supermarkets.