The best Sydney's cafe culture, presented by Vittoria Coffee, from Italian-style espresso pit stops and Thai brunch to Japanese sandwich bars and beachside bagel houses.
Owner Mandeep Bhusal says everything on the short menu of this neighbourhood cafe is made with "heaps of love", from the pastrami, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut sambos to the Persian love cake. Even the specialty coffee, featuring rotating international roasters on espresso, and Single O Paradox for milk coffees.
19 Charlotte St, Ashfield, 0423 495 012
From the coffee-smart team behind north Willoughby's SML Cafe and Roseville's Calibrate, this sleek, ridge-timbered cafe brings specialty coffee, house-cured salmon on toast and a 16-hour slow-cooked brisket burger to Neutral Bay.
9 Rangers Rd, Neutral Bay
Pastries on the counter at Bar Lucio. Photo: Supplied
What a charmer. This little corner coffee bar in Kensington belongs to Lucio de Falco of Lucio Pizzeria, which means the croissant and panini are baked in the pizzeria's wood-fired ovens. Caffe DM coffee is sweet and nutty, best taken on the terrace with a Nutella-filled bomboloni.
12 Lenthall St, Kensington, 02 9663 0693
Joe, Anthony and Carmelo Cipri opened this molto Italiano cafe and pasta workshop right next door to the Cipri mothership in 2018, bringing Paddington that bit closer to Italy. Come for fresh pastries, artisan gelato, Toby's Estate Broadway Blend coffee – and that carbonara Australiano.
2-8 Elizabeth St, Paddington, 02 9331 0088, barbetta.com.au
Barrel One Roasters
CAFE AND BAGEL HOUSE
After starting life in a Brookvale garage, they've now rolled out the barrel to Manly and Cromer, with Single O beans in the grinder. New York-style bagels are the go, making the pastrami, pickle and cheddar Breakfast Bagel now officially A Thing.
40 East Esp, Manly, 02 8386 5669, barrelonecoffee.com
Tom Eadie's original bakery cafe (there are now four across Sydney's north shore and northern beaches), puts on a casual sandwich and Single O coffee front. But behind everything lies a bustling bakery run on sustainable principles, right down to the locally grown wheat ground into flour on the in-house stone mill.
8 William St, Brookvale, 02 9905 3455, berkelo.com.au
Blackwood's smashed avo. Photo: Supplied
Come for the makings of a beach picnic and Reformatory's caffeine. The pastel tones of this laneway cafe are oh-so-summery, and the nourish bowls and giant egg and bacon rolls will set you up for the day.
Shop 5, 33 Surf Ln, Cronulla, 02 9544 4857, blackwoodpantry.com.au
Perched out over the water at Rose Bay, the Kiosk is so busy, you'll have to wait for a table, then queue to order. But what price sitting amid luxury yacht moorings, seagulls and the Boaties' famously good fish and chips with a spritz?
594 New South Head Rd, Rose Bay, 02 9189 5259, theboathouserosebay.com.au/rose-bay-kiosk
Bacon and egg congee at Boon. Photo: Jennifer Soo
Boon pioneered the perfect fusion of Asia and Australia in cafe form, stuffing croissants with pandan cream, and piling fiery Issan curries on sourdough toast. It's set within a bustling Thai supermarket and fresh produce store. Magic.
1/425 Pitt St, Haymarket, 02 9281 2114
You'd come to Hartmut and Lidia Schacker's sunny little diner for the gorgeous water views across to Shelly Beach alone. But the big brekkie burger, green goddess bowl, breakfast mimosa cocktails and Single O cold brew coffee are just as big a draw.
7 Marine Pde, Manly, 0451 343 339, thebowermanly.com.au
An open ham sandwich from Bread & Circus. Photo: Megan Johnston
Bread & Circus
Amanda Bechara's lively communal canteen brings a new level of deliciousness to fresh, healthy eating. The tea list is exceptional, and Marvel St's Daily Grind coffee is just the ticket with an organic salad, sambo or parmesan not-so-scrambled eggs.
21 Fountain St, Alexandria, 0418 214 425, breadandcircus.com.au
JAPANESE CAFE AND BAR
Taiyo Shima's tiny cafe and bar tucked inside Regent Arcade offers very few things, done very well. That means chicken and mushroom udon with deliciously chewy noodles, richly flavoured Stitch coffee and vibrant, matcha-green cheesecake.
Regent Place, 501 George St, Sydney, 02 9286 3383
Cherry Moon General Store
Meet Apollonia, the mighty wood-fired baker's oven at the heart of Kimmy Gastmeier and Aimee Graham's cottage-core Annandale cafe. Come for the Loggerhead Coffee and the sugary doughnuts filled with rose and pistachio custard, and leave with fig leaf sourdough and feather-light focaccia.
77 Nelson St, Annandale, cherrymoongeneralstore.com.au
Circa has been Parramatta's go-to coffee stop since 2010, but no laurels have been rested upon. Little Marionette beans still deliver a potent macchiato and full-bodied caffe latte seven days a week, and the food runs from buttery brioche French toast to the signature baked eggs.
21 Wentworth St, Parramatta, circaespresso.com.au
Coconut agave nectar and granola at Circa. Photo: Supplied
CAFE AND COFFEE ROASTER
"Tell David we're moving," said the poster on the old Addison Road site of the much-loved and much-awarded Coffee Alchemy. Don't worry, Mr Beckham, you can get more of your favourite Goodness Galileo blend at Clare Lim and Hazel de los Reyes' new cafe and roastery (it's teal blue – you can't miss it).
87 Sydenham Rd, Marrickville, 02 9516 1997, coffeealchemy.com.au
Sunken seating at Edition Coffee Roasters. Photo: Louise Kennerley
Edition Coffee Roasters
With its all-black walls and sunken seating, Edition's dramatic interior is styled on an old Japanese farmhouse. Coffee is consistently best-in-class and the food is cliche-free, from pork katsu curry burger to Japanese souffle pancakes.
60 Darling Dr, Haymarket, editionroasters.com
CAFE AND WINE BAR
Little sister to Aggy's Corner in Balgowlah, Effie's runs Skittle Lane coffee, croissants and lunch rolls seven days a week. The light, minimal interior is all set to segue into a lo-fi wine bar with good food in the evenings, so watch this space.
81 Sydney Rd, Balgowlah
SRI LANKAN CAFE
If you've not had clove-spiced Sri Lankan love cake, here's your chance. Chef Augustine de Hoedt's neighbourhood cafe offers an adventurous mix of avo-on-toast, coconut roti with crisp hoppers and curry, and pastries.
403 New Canterbury Rd, Dulwich Hill, 02 8068 2226, thefoldsrilankan.com.au
As much a French bistro as a cafe, Garcon spills outside from under The Canopy into a grassy park, with everything from crepes and Little Marionette coffee for breakfast, to cassoulet for dinner. Also located at Tramsheds in Forest Lodge.
2 Rosenthal Ave, Lane Cove, 0414 444 551, garcon.com.au
CAFE AND COFFEE ROASTER
In Melbourne since 1970, Genovese Coffee has moved into Sydney with typically Italian gusto – note the retro-modern warehouse setting, on-site roaster and racy Kees Van Der Westen espresso machine. Note also the prosciutto-filled panini and ricotta cannoli.
1-3 Lawrence St, Alexandria, 02 9211 2211, genovesecoffeehouse.com.au
Good Fella Coffee
The team behind The Baron and Tuckshop saw the need for good coffee in this Hills District business park (Single O to the rescue). Food is "low maintenance" and ranges from a smoked salmon and avocado bagel to miso pumpkin soup with coconut yoghurt.
Unit 7, 5 Celebration Dr, Bella Vista, 0411 928 192, goodfella.co
Father and son team George and Anthony Karnasiotis are the force behind this comfortable, contemporary cafe/eatery. The Insta-friendly food always comes with a twist – and, in season, fresh truffles – and Five Senses' Dark Horse blend is a suitable match for the cafe's fudgy chocolate cookies.
23-41 Lindfield Ave, Lindfield, 02 9415 6716, goodfields.com.au
A sweet pancake stack at Happyfield. Photo: Janie Barrett
If the sunny banana-yellow signage doesn't give you a sense of happiness and optimism, then get a tray of soft, fluffy pancakes with Pepe Saya butter and Canadian maple syrup, stacked with crisp bacon, or a gen-u-ine American burger. Coffee is Five Senses, even in the cold brew martini.
96 Ramsay St, Haberfield, 02 9716 5168, happyfield.com.au
Haven Specialty Coffee
Kit Tran's little cafe is a haven indeed, with its tranquil light-filled room devoted to the laboratory-like precision of producing batch brew, pour-over, cold-drip and espresso coffee. Linger even longer for the chic prawn sandwich with char siu mayo, or try the French toast with Earl Grey custard and rose petals.
5 Crewe Pl, Rosebery, havenspecialtycoffee.com.au
CAFE AND GALLERY
What a setting. James Watson's popular, family-friendly cafe opens to the lush gardens of the Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre, and comes with well-made Allpress coffee, sweet potato waffles, fish and chips and crisp duck salad.
782 Kingsway, Gymea, 02 8536 5755, hazelhurstcafe.com.au
Freshly baked from the same tight-knit team as Argentinean grill-house Porteno (next door), Bastardo (the other side) and Bodega (behind), this industrial working bakery and gelateria has a permanent queue for its pig's head croissant roll and sweetly nostalgic pink-iced finger bun (pictured).
50 Holt St, Surry Hills, 02 8399 1440, humblesydney.com
It's as if it landed from some time in the future, and not just from Melbourne. Espresso comes from taps connected to hidden La Marzocco Modbar machines, the food is molecular, and the bubble coffee – cold-brew, condensed milk, soy milk and coffee-soaked tapioca pearls – is amazing.
38-40 York St, Sydney, 02 9188 8501, industrybeans.com
SPANISH CAFE AND BAR
The coffee is Allpress, the beer is Estrella and chef-owner Nick Stone turns out very tasty tapas and jamon-and-eggs on toast, all under umbrellas on the street. At night, it's Potts Point's very own tapas crawl as diners move next door to sister wine bar, Sopra, for cocktails.
35 Challis Ave, Potts Point, 02 8063 0134, cafelabomba.com.au
Lox, Stock & Barrel
You can still get your New York deli corned beef Reuben on rye, Gypsy coffee and OG chicken noodle soup at this Bondi brekkie and lunch favourite, but Lox also goes global with Balinese chicken and Yemeni beef short ribs.
140 Glenayr Ave, Bondi Beach, 02 9300 0368, loxstockandbarrel.com.au
With its retro theatre-lobby interior and breakfast burgers, flathead and chips, and vegan banoffee pancakes, Marrickville was always going to love Matinee. Owner Charles Cameron knows his coffee beans, and the beer is local hero, Grifter.
23 Addison Rd, Marrickville, 02 9519 7591, matineecoffee.com
Moon and Back
CAFE AND GALLERY
It may look like a Japanese art gallery, but Elvan Fan and Carol Yu's ceramics store is also a working cafe with a wonderfully handmade quality. Park yourself on a bench with an Artificer coffee or hojicha tea, croffle (croissant turned waffle) or airy Mount Fuji chiffon cake.
Shop 7, 2 Crewe Pl, Rosebery
COFFEE CART AND CAFE
Wedged between two buildings at the station end of Moore Street, Liverpool, Angelo Nasso's laneway coffee cart has its own outdoor seating tucked in behind. Saint Dreux's Shepherd blend works well across spana(kopita) rolls, Portuguese tarts and ham and cheese jaffles.
1 Moore St, Liverpool, 0410 341 488
This Bear is just as kid-friendly, pooch-friendly and idyllically situated as its siblings in Mosman, Clontarf and Kirribilli. Sit out by the water or inside the Royal Australian Naval Association boatshed, with a great chicken sandwich, sashimi salad, chicken rice, congee and Vittoria coffee.
1C New Beach Rd, Darling Point, birdandbear.com.au
Part cafe and part austere coffee laboratory, this is the future of coffee as seen by Canberra's award-winning Sasa Sestic. Highly focused baristas conjure up temperature-controlled, precision-measured shots of black, white and filter, with premium reserve coffees for the cognoscenti.
140 Marrickville Rd, Marrickville, onacoffee.com.au
Outfield's egg and bacon roll. Photo: Louise Kennerley
This place comes with a park, a cricket pitch and a bandstand. It also has velvety Stitch coffee, Moroccan spiced tea, and bagels, boreks and egg and bacon rolls. Picnic packs, complete with rugs and tray tables, can be arranged.
Yeo Park, 230 Victoria St, Ashfield, outfield.com.au
Paramount Coffee Project
Located in the cool, collaborative space of Paramount House, PCP is your go-to for an impressive rotation of guest coffees, in-and-out seating and a so-not-boring cafe menu. Look out for weekend drops of morning buns and cheese croissants from A.P. Breads.
80 Commonwealth St, Surry Hills, 0410 311 494, paramountcoffeeproject.com.au
ITALIAN CAFE AND BAR
A Milanese-style cafe attached to Restaurant Leo, this Italian charmer is from LuMi's Federico Zannellato and Oscillate Wildly's Karl Firla. Expect spuntini (snacks), pasticcini (pastries), Roman-style pizza, Little Marionette coffee, and batch-made, seasonally changing cocktails.
2 Angel Pl, Sydney, piccoleo.com.au
In May 2020, Andrew Hardjasudarma and Yuvi Thu opened a pop-up across the lane from their tiny Room 10. As happens, the pop-up went permanent, with a menu that straddles breakfast and lunch with tuna salads, cheesy wagyu pastrami bagels, peanut butter cookies and great Mecca coffee.
4/29 Orwell St, Potts Point, 0432 445 342
Porch and Parlour
CAFE AND WINE BAR
The green pea pancake is a local legend, but P&P keep building in the detail, developing an aesthetic rare in the cafe world (note the new huggable, holdable coffee cups from Porch Ceramics). Days segue into leisurely evenings of cocktails and snacks by the sea.
17-18/110 Ramsgate Ave, North Bondi, 02 9300 0111, porchandparlour.com
Cocktails and panini at Sammy Junior. Photo: Supplied
CAFE AND COCKTAIL BAR
Here's a dilemma for our times – an espresso, or an espresso martini? Sammy Junior's coffee cocktail champion barista and barman Martin Hudak offers double the caffeine fun in this swellegant, high-detail, city bar/cafe. We say both. No judgment here.
66 King St, Sydney, maybesammyjunior.com
This little sandwich bar puts together precisely engineered Japanese sandwiches (pictured) made with soft, airy, milk bread, filled with crumbed pork, or strawberries and cream. It's too tiny to do little more than takeaway, but add a smoothie or Single O coffee to go.
Shop 3, 113-115 Oxford St, Darlinghurst, 0491 092 958, sandoitchi.com.au
The Single O story started right here in 2003 with an on-site roastery and a much-loved bare-bones cafe. These days, it's grown into a big, buzzy corner cafe with a lively menu and its own laneway brew bar, showcasing leadership on all things sustainable and ethical.
60-64 Reservoir St, Surry Hills, 02 9211 0665, singleo.com.au
The name comes from the laneway adjoining the original CBD cafe, once used as a bowling alley by soldiers and sailors. This newer Bondi outlet shares the same light, minimalist Scandi feel, full-bodied Skittle Lane coffee, and simple toasties and tartines.
135 Curlewis St, Bondi Beach, skittlelane.com
A selection of Korean-inspied breakfasts at Soul Deli. Photo: Louise Kennerley
This brunch-centric white-walled cafe and deli is also a showcase for Korean food, culture and ingenuity. Daero Lee and Illa Kim have curated house-made kimchi, Korean groceries and a menu of rice bowls and smashed avo and kimchi toasties, with coffee from Dan Kim of Primary Coffee Roasters.
Shop 1, 185 Campbell St, Surry Hills, souldeli.com.au
This curvy corner site draws crowds for its sunny street eating, Philadelphia-style deli hoagies and cold brews of oat milk and maple. Inside is light and bright, with gleaming free-pour taps of batch brews from guest roasters, curated by Single O.
39 Phillip St, Newtown, soulmatecoffee.com.au
David Allison used to run a business catering for Qantas first-class passengers. Now he's redefining the inner-city cafe behind a roller-door and feeding Marrickville with first-class produce from his own organic farm, from oyster mushrooms with truffle butter to creme brulee brioche.
20 Chapel St, Marrickville, stix.com.au
With its outdoor tables overlooking the park, Substation is like a little country cafe in the heart of Rosebery. Coffee is Single O made with care, and the food is bright and fresh, from the healthy falafel salad to the lemon sponge cake.
128 Rothschild Ave, Rosebery, 0451 142 513, substation.cafe
Mango cheesecake at the Tin Humpy Cafe. Photo: Louise Kennerley
The Tin Humpy Cafe
Bundjalung woman Yvette Lever's casual eatery in Redfern deals out freshly baked pastries and no-nonsense cafe fare (avo-on-toast), with added interest from Indigenous ingredients (kangaroo and wattleseed salad).
137 Redfern St, Redfern, 02 8119 6581
Owners Min Chai (N2 Extreme Gelato) and Eddie Stewart (Black Star Pastry) were all set to take Tokyo Lamington to Tokyo. Now, for obvious reasons, they're keeping things local (yay!) with show-time lammos in fairy bread and Neapolitan themes, and even bacon and egg onigiri.
277 Australia St, Newtown, tokyolamington.com
Went To See The Gypsy
CAFE AND COFFEE BAR
Set in a sleek, modern semi-industrial space that's way different to the tiny original in Potts Point, this Gypsy is all about 21st century coffee culture, with its state-of-the-art Modbar AV espresso tap system, cold "flash" brews, bright lunch bowls and chicken burgers.
76 Mitchell Rd, Alexandria, 02 9319 2826, gypsyespresso.com.au
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 Sydney Morning Herald. Also on sale from December 7 in newsagents and supermarkets.