The Playmaker
Let's play
  • It's Wednesday
    What day is it?
  • Now
    What time is it?
  • Anywhere in Melbourne
    Where are you?
  • What do you feel like?
    What do you feel like?
  • And what else?
    And what else?
By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018

Melbourne's Best New Cafes of 2018

These six cafes serve up more than just top-notch coffee.
By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018


These six cafes serve up more than just top-notch coffee.

Cafes are no longer just serving great coffee. They're serving great locally roasted coffee in many forms (from cold drip to batch and single origin espresso), great fare that caters to all dietaries. They also boast interesting decors and are passionate about sustainability and the ethical sourcing of ingredients.

And our favourite cafes of the year do an impressive job at covering it all. From vegan croissants and cakes baked by 'Mum', to all-day eateries and a mini eatery pumping out top-notch breakfast banh mi, these six cafes are doing it all.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Melbourne to be a better, braver city. And so, these six new cafes, opened in 2018, were nominated for Best New Cafe in Concrete Playground's Best of 2018 Awards.

  • 6

    Sibling-run cafe Mr Tucci in Glen Iris is bold, with three areas in particular standing out: the space, the food and the vibe. Let’s start with the space, because, let’s face it: first impressions are lasting. The space is encased in a glass triangle, with lots of natural light and a backdrop of trees, which makes it feel like you’re eating in a very comfortable conservatory. And every seat in the cafe feels like this. Speaking of seats, it’s worth noting that owners Fabian, Massimo, and Romina Crea did the fit out themselves — which included sourcing 1950s Australian school chairs and revamping them. The food shines in the space. And it’s no wonder, really, given that this is not the Creas’ first rodeo. Stalwarts of hospitality in Melbourne’s southeast, they’ve created a menu which they know reflects local taste. You can also just swing by for some really great coffee and cake. Fabian points out that he’s lucky to still have his mum, Franca, doing things for him, and in this case she’s making stunning cakes. And finally, there’s the vibe. When you enter a new place and you’re greeted like an old friend, this goes a long way.

    Words: Jo Rittey. Images: Julia Sansone

    Vote for Mr Tucci

  • 5

    Parco’s middle-of-the-street courtyard digs better resemble a little kiosk for good reason. Originally built as a power substation, the tiny cottage-like building was most recently used as an information kiosk — though, according to locals, it’s been vacant for nearly 20 years. Enter long-time mates Jarrod Balme and Adrian Pagano, who saw an opportunity to reclaim this space. They’ve turned the site into a cafe surrounded by outdoor park-bench seating — with space for 50 all up. To complement the space, head chef Piers Bielby has created a succinct menu that focuses on ‘hand-to-mouth’ eating, including all-day brekkie items like the banh mi — a miso-mayo dressed milk bun piled with maple bacon and a fried egg, then topped with pickled carrots, coriander and cucumber. Seasonal fare is sourced from local suppliers, with all meat from Meatsmith and bread from Dench Bakers in Fitzroy North, plus coffee by Coffee Supreme and tea by Love Tea. Sure, the all-outdoor seating may not be ideal for the winter months, but it does mean the cafe is dog friendly — and they’ve got plenty of blankets to keep you warm, too.

    Words: Marissa Ciampi. Images: Kate Shanasy

    Vote for Parco

  • 4
    Duke of Kerr

    You’d be pretty happy if you lived in the apartments above Duke of Kerr. Or, in fact, anywhere in the vicinity. It’s the kind of neighbourhood cafe you want as your local. Located on quiet, mostly residential block in Fitzroy, the cafe feels a little bit Parisian, well, in a tucked-down-a-leafy-Parisian-side-street way. But, apart from the ambiance, it’s not really French at all. Inside, there’s funk soul playing and the decor is all wood, dark tables and chairs and bi-fold glass doors on two sides of the room. A collaboration between a few hospitality stalwarts, Duchess of Spotswood’s Andy Gale, St Ali’s Mark Richardson and Bertie’s Butcher’s Darren Moncrieff, it’s serving up up all-day breakfasts that are available after-dark on Fridays and Saturdays, too.  Drinks are served all day, too, and if you subscribe to the “it’s after noon somewhere in the world” philosophy, order The Original Bastard ($12) bloody mary or a glass of Tasmanian sparkling wine. If you don’t, the locally roasted Clark Street coffee will see you through.

    Words: Jo Rittey. Images: Kate Shanasy.

    Vote for Duke of Kerr

  • 3

    The journey to Cannoli Bar starts with a drive down Riviera Road, which is lined with brick houses and olive trees. It’s nestled in the heart of Avondale Heights, an area that is distinctly Italian, filled with Italian delis, bakeries, butcheries and restaurants. Now, it’s home to another important Italian icon: a family-run cannolificio (cannoli shop), which produces around 1000 handmade cannoli every day. Located in a converted milk bar, the compact store features stripped back walls, tools and miscellaneous items that pay homage to “nonno”. The unassuming cafe is filled with the energetic chatter of Italian locals, discussing their home towns. In busier hours, punters line out the door waiting to get their hands on a ricotta-filled pastry. Cannoli veterans and first-timers can both find something to enjoy here. Freshly piped classics include the ‘classico’, Nutella and pistachio, and limited-edition (and untraditional) versions include the popular Oreo, Bounty, Ferrero Rocher and lemon meringue experimentations.

    Words and images: Julia Sansone.

    Vote for Cannoli Bar

  • 2

    Fitzroy cafe Bentwood proves a fitting homage to the Thonet furniture showroom that previously occupied its Napier Street home, not only named for the brand’s iconic chairs, but boasting a dining room filled with them. They’re set beautifully against a warm, rust-hued fit-out, where soaring ceilings, concrete pillars and walls of exposed brick give another nod to the building’s industrial heritage. Here, Julien Moussi (Elsternwick’s Penta and Northcote’s Tinker) is delivering another stand-out cafe, where attention to detail extends well beyond the decor, into the coffee cup and onto the plate. The caffeine offering comes courtesy of Moussi’s own Inglewood Coffee Roasters, with a tidy range of specialty options to satisfy the coffee connoisseurs of Fitzroy. Food here packs as much of a punch aesthetically as it does for the tastebuds, across a generous menu of brunch and lunch creations. You’ll spy elevated classic like meringue-loaded hotcakes and an eggs benny with braised beef cheek, sitting alongside contemporary hits like a poke-style assembly that comes atop slices of dark rye.

    Words: Libby Curran. Images: Kate Shanasy.

    Vote for Bentwood

  • 1

    A fun-loving new contender has crashed Melbourne’s pastry scene and it’s out to woo the sweet-toothed masses with its plant-based treats, party-ready attitude and late-night hours. Fittingly dubbed Weirdoughs, the CBD spot is 100 percent vegan, with a clear appetite for fun. The store’s even open until the wee hours on Fridays and Saturdays, with DJs serving up a sparkly mix of hip hop and electronica to match. Here, the pastries are all about teaming traditional technique with innovative flair. The kitchen, helmed by former Vue Group Executive Pastry Chef Kane Neal, is out to smash those preconceptions and prove that butter’s no longer a necessity for flavour-packed baked goods. It’s swapping out the dairy for a special blend of cashew, macadamia and coconut oil. Expect a selection of sweet and savoury creations, like a custard ‘Weirdoughnut’, oozing golden turmeric custard and smothered in rhubarb sherbet sugar, a cube-shaped take on the croissant and even an all-vegan version of the humble ham and cheese croissant.

    Words: Libby Curran. Images: Kate Shanasy.

    Vote for Weirdoughs


Top image: Bentwood by Kate Shanasy.


Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x