The 14 Best Cafes in Melbourne

How does your favourite Melbourne cafe stack up against these brunch-filled, coffee-slinging, bloody mary-pouring haunts?
Andrew Zuccala and Concrete Playground
Published on March 09, 2024

The 14 Best Cafes in Melbourne

How does your favourite Melbourne cafe stack up against these brunch-filled, coffee-slinging, bloody mary-pouring haunts?

It's an undisputed fact that Melbourne has one of the best cafe scenes in the world. Walk into nearly any local haunt, and you'll find baristas serving up excellent coffee and chefs sliding creative brunch dishes across the pass. Service is also top-notch.

That's what makes creating a definitive list of the best cafes in Melbourne so difficult. But worry not, for we have done the painstaking work of dining out all over the city to find the best places to sip on fantastic coffee — no matter how you drink it — and dine on tasty eats.


Recommended reads:
The Best Breakfast in Melbourne
The Best Coffee in Melbourne
The Best Bakeries in Melbourne
The Best Bottomless Boozy Brunch in Melbourne

  • 14
    A selection of breakfast dishes at Abacus - - one of the best cafes in Melbourne that's home to some of the best breakfast in Melbourne.

    On a sunny Chapel Street corner, Abacus has managed to nail that all-day eatery vibe that often proves so elusive. It’s a lofty, leafy space that’s bright and charming by the light of day, and the seasonal food menu is genuinely superb. A great amount of thought has been given to the sourcing of local produce, from fresh fruit and veg or meat and seafood. The kitchen even mills its own flour and keeps its own bees.

    Drinks are also given plenty of love at Abacus, one of the very best cafes in Melbourne. First off, Ona coffee is in the hopper — with baristas extracting top-notch shots all day. But if a boozy cafe vibe is what you’re after, you’re also in for a treat. Grab one of the sun-drenched seats looking out on Chapel Street and do some proper people-watching with a hibiscus and lychee spritz in hand.

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  • 13
    prawns on charcoal toast at Au 79 - one of the best cafes in Melbourne

    Named after the symbol (and atomic number) for gold on the periodic table, the team behind this ambitious eatery have certainly gone for gold in every aspect of its production. The menu at Au79 — one of the very best cafes in Melbourne — represents an imaginative approach to food, twisting familiar brunch dishes into something new.

    Our current favourite? Au79’s take on the classic eggs royale. It has swapped out smoked salmon on English muffins for butter-poached prawns on a charcoal brioche bun and kipfler potato chips — still served with perfectly poached eggs and a rich and creamy hollandaise sauce.

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  • 12
    Lots of people eating at pellegrini's - one of the best cafes in Melbourne

    One of our city’s great gifts, this Italian classic remains stubbornly untouched as the years slide by. Steaming with soul food, raw character and some of the best coffee in Melbourne since 1954, Pellegrini’s really doesn’t have any reason to change. You’ll still find its original red leather stools sitting by the wooden bar and the worn checkerboard flooring where so many Italian food lovers have trodden.

    Sit up at the bar with an espresso and torte at the start of the day, or head over for big bowls of Nonna-style pasta for an early lunch. Sitting near the top end of Bourke Street, Pellegrini’s is Melbourne’s rock. Safe, comforting and familiar, some might argue change at Pellegrini’s would be a good thing. But to that, we disagree.

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  • 11
    the entrance with coffee machine at Journeyman - one of the best cafes in Melbourne - best melbourne breakfast

    This cafe has been a Chapel Street stalwart since its opening back in 2008, under the name of Dukes Coffee Roasters — changing its name to Journeyman in 2014 to clearly define the difference between the roastery and the cafe. Its roots are deeply set in the coffee roasting game, but the team has since gone far beyond that focus.

    Nowadays, you’ll struggle to grab a seat due to its popularity among the Melbourne brunch lovers who keep returning for the ever-evolving menu. But no matter how many times they update the food offerings, the regulars will never allow Journeyman to remove the famous avocado hummus toast served with honey candied bacon and a poached egg. And we can’t blame them — it is a winning combo that helps make this spot one of the best cafes in Melbourne.

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  • 10
    Interiors of Seven Seeds - Melbourne cafe in Carlton

    It’s easy to miss Seven Seeds on Berkeley Street, hidden in one of the quieter pockets of Carlton. This micro-roaster, cafe and retailer is hidden behind a wood-panelled door, which serves as a humble ruse for one of Melbourne’s best cafe creations.

    The team here is renowned for bringing the best and tastiest characteristics out of a bean, and it’s one of the few roasteries to cup what it roasts on a daily basis. But the food is also worthy of coming for in its own right. Creative and surprisingly very affordable brunch dishes adorn the menu, with out favourite being the waffle benny. We get this just about every time we visit. The parmesan waffle is simultaneously crunchy and pillowy, topped with tarragon hollandaise sauce, poached eggs and a heap of ham. It’s a must-order.

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  • 9
    The exterior of Uncle Drew on a clear and sunny day - one of the best cafes in Melbourne

    With its consistently top-notch coffee and a menu that sits well-executed classics alongside crafty modern creations, this charming Melbourne cafe is the kind you dream about having as your local. Occupying a sunny corner of Clifton Hill complete with a leafy streetside parklet, it’s even got its very own food store in front.

    The kitchen’s offering always hits the right notes with options like the beloved breakfast burrito, an omelette loaded with Sichuan- and apple cider-braised pork hock, a hefty prawn roll and tagliatelle finished with a wagyu chianti ragu. Throw in a cracking specials lineup, a crew of friendly staff who know most of their guests by name, and lots of regular doggos, and you’ve got yourself one of the best cafes in Melbourne.

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  • 8
    the view of codeblack from the street on a sunny day - - one of the best cafes in Melbourne

    Code Black has set up shop in North Melbourne, the CBD, Southbank and South Melbourne, but its flagship cafe in Brunswick is still our fave. Here, you’ll find its roastery HQ — where the team is perpetually roasting ethically-sourced beans and teaching the next generation of baristas how to extract the perfect shot.

    But Code Black is more than just its coffee. Head here any day of the week for an excellent selection of brunch items. Get around the ricotta hotcakes, or lemongrass pork roll, with Vietnamese saté and chicken liver pâté, shredded herbs and pickled carrots — an absolute winner of a dish. Long boozy brunches are an option here too, with a long list of wines that rivals many Melbourne restaurants, and a cocktail list that goes the extra mile. Do try Code Black’s signature coffee sour and coffee old fashioned.

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  • 7
    A barista making drinks at stagger lee - one of the best cafes in Melbourne

    From the team behind the ever popular Collingwood coffee haunt, Proud Mary, comes Stagger Lee’s, which sits on a section of Brunswick Street where local foodies are spoilt for choice. But Stagger Lee’s is where you come for a hot cup of joe. With single origin espresso, filter and cold drip varieties on the menu, you’re always assured of a good-tasting brew.

    The brief food menu is also a win. Truffled cream corn with king mushrooms and asparagus on toast is one of the heroes, or there’s a mammoth fried buttermilk chicken burger and breakfast tacos — served all day. A decent wine, beer and cocktail list for ‘those’ Friday lunches adds to a well-rounded offering, helping it up the list of the best cafes in Melbourne.

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  • 6
    People sitting out the front of A1 Bakery on Sydney Road in Brunswick - - one of the best cafes in Melbourne

    This Lebanese bakery and grocer has been a Sydney Road favourite for almost two decades — but too many people stop by for a quick takeaway treat, missing out on the stellar dine-in options. Yes, we are also obsessed with the golden spinach and feta pastries, the boat-shaped shanklish pies flecked with herbs and the holy layered baklava drenched in syrup.

    But grab a seat inside and enjoy an even better experience. For an early visit, look no further than the A1 Brekkie. It consists of two eggs, sujuk (a spicy fermented sausage), homemade labneh, cucumber, tomato, olives, mint and pita bread. The platters are also the best choice for those of us who want an elevated lunch.

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  • 5
    people dining in shipping containers at Rudimentary, Footscray - one of the best cafes in Melbourne

    Yes, the team uses simple building blocks to create their offerings — from fresh produce grown on-site to shipping containers and recycled materials — but the end product is anything but basic and rudimentary. They have managed to make a unique Melbourne cafe that doubles as a community space, where local Footscray folks from all backgrounds are welcome.

    Food-wise, the Nurungji porridge with scorched rice, kimchi, spicy bamboo and a sous vide egg, and Bubble & Squeak featuring eggplant ontop of corn fritters, poached eggs and hollandaise are both knockouts. But the greasy breakfast bun will always hold a special place in our hungover hearts. Add some coffee from Small Batch and a tall glass of bloody mary and you’ll be in for a delightful arvo out in West Melbourne.

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  • 4
    A barista pouring filter coffee at One Coffee - the best cafe in Melbourne. Home to some of the best coffee in Melbourne.

    This casual eatery may be an interstate import (hailing from Canberra), but Ona has all the required credentials to be one of Melbourne’s best cafes. First and foremost, the coffee game is strong with this one. It has an almighty 20-plus list of beans to choose from — used to make frothy milk coffees, single-origin espressos, batch brews, pour overs, iced coffee, cold brews and its famous frozen coffees.

    You’ll struggle to find a better and more extensive list of coffees elsewhere. Though you’re undoubtedly here for the java, Ona Coffee Melbourne’s food menu is worth a try, too. Brekkie-style items include pastrami eggs benedict, an epic brown butter ricotta hotcake and chilli eggs done any way you like. You’ll also find lunch options aplenty at this Brunswick cafe, one of the best cafes in Melbourne. It’s got it all going on.

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  • 3
    Someone cutting into a poached egg during breakfast at Faraday's Cage on Smith Street - one of the best cafes in Melbourne

    Melbourne is no stranger to a bakery come cafe that serves up daily brunch dishes, but Faraday’s Cage in Fitzroy has got to be one of the greatest. As it is a local bakery, you can delight in fresh sourdough bread and sweet and savoury pastries alongside an impressive selection of takeaway sangas. But Faraday’s takes it one step further with a pleasantly gourmet all-day breakfast menu.

    First off, there are the decedent ricotta hotcakes served with rich brown butter, a yuzu crème, maple caramel, roast chocolate, grapefruit, blueberries and lemon balm. The savoury brekkie options don’t disappoint either. Get around a harissa spiced shakshuka and the Turkish crumbed eggplant with confit garlic labneh, za’atar, fried shallots, 12-hour roast tomato and two poached eggs.

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  • 2
    A selection of dishes at 279 in West Melbourne - victoria street - one of the best cafes in Melbourne

    From the outside, this Japanese cafe in West Melbourne may seem like one of city’s many minimalist breakfast and brunch spots, but there is so much special goodness happening within. Owner of 279, Kantaro Okada, focuses on recreating home style Japanese soul food that’s been passed down through the generations — putting traditional onigiri front and centre. These triangles of rice are served with a variety of toppings, from classic ume-plum to Osaka cheese.

    Larger dishes like the slow-cooked pork belly with kimchi and spring onion, or the smashed tuna with avocado and Japanese mayonnaise are big hitters, too. Then there are the desserts, including a matcha tiramisu and its famous mochinuts  — a cross between mochi and doughnuts. And let’s not forget the expertly brewed coffee from Japanese roasters. Basically, there’s too much good stuff to try at this Melbourne cafe — you’d best book in multiple visits.

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  • 1
    avocado on toast from Terror Twilight - one of the best cafes in Melbourne

    From the creators of ConvoyHi-Fi and Tinker comes this breakthrough Melbourne cafe that champions healthy breakfast and lunch dishes that are full of flavour and creativity. Standout breakfasts include the chai spiced Greek yoghurt with ruby grapefruit, walnut praline, as well as anchovy toast served with baba ghanoush, a lemon and herb sauce, crispy buckwheat and poached eggs.

    Terror Twilight also goes down a different coffee road, compared to many of Melbourne’s best cafes — giving diners the option to upgrade their usual brew with nootropic supplements and natural health boosters such as chaga mushrooms and MCT oil. But you don’t have to be too good here. Life is all about balance, after all. Pair these nutritious offerings with something a little naughty. The Bloody Maria cocktail made with tequila, Martini Rosso, TT pickle juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and TT hot sauce will definitely do the trick.

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Top images: Terror Twilight by My Friend Tom

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