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By Concrete Playground
December 08, 2016

Melbourne's Best New Cafes of 2016

Honouring the best new cafes on Melbourne's cafe scene this year.
By Concrete Playground
December 08, 2016


Honouring the best new cafes on Melbourne's cafe scene this year.

It goes without saying, Melbourne's characteristically buzzing cultural ecosystem has thrived this year, with the city's most innovative, forward-thinking residents taking bold risks in their field. Some get up earlier than most, Melbourne's cafe crowd, who continue to cultivate compelling coffee breaks and brunches for locals, building neighbourhood day-to-night warehouse spaces, championing local producers and making an art of vegan nosh.

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 2016, have been nominated for Best New Cafe in Concrete Playground's Best of 2016 Awards.

Vote for your favourite.

  • 6

    The team behind quintessential Melbourne cafes Top Paddock and The Kettle Black have finally cut the ribbon on their long-awaited new venue. Located at the Southern Cross end of Little Bourke Street, Higher Ground has been in the works for well over a year, and after a technical fault that further delayed the opening last week, they’ve finally opened their doors to the public. And boy is it a beauty. The huge, high-ceilinged 160-seat venue sits on the corner of Little Bourke and Spencer Streets in a former warehouse. The venue is serving up the same kickass cafe fare that its two siblings are known for, with the all-day menu including the likes of avo on toast, spiced cauliflower scrambled eggs and semolina porridge with cherry, umeshu, shiso and plum.

    Vote for Higher Ground.

  • 5
    Cromwell Streat

    This year, Collingwood landed a brand new event space and cafe that provides support to homeless and disadvantaged youths. Cromwell STREAT is the latest project from local social enterprise STREAT (and, yes, it’s located on Cromwell Street), who for the past seven years have offered opportunities and hospitality training to at-risk young people, via employment in their numerous cafes as well as fundraising initiatives such as their annual Melbourne Central Sleepover. Having secured funding through a successful crowdfunding campaign, Cromwell STREAT isn’t just a cafe, but an artisan bakery, coffee roastery, function space and youth training academy too. The 80-seat eatery — which is located in a renovated 150-year-old heritage-listed Cromwell Manor — also features a big outdoor area, all-day breakfast and lunch from 11am.

    Vote for Cromwell STREAT.

  • 4
    Lawyers, Guns and Money (CLOSED)

    Now closed, but still one of 2016’s best cafes, Lawyers, Guns and Money wass about as far away from the Tall Timbers and Top Paddocks of this town as one could get, tucked away on Church Lane. It takes a confident chef to open a Melbourne city breakfast spot where the menu does away with smashed avo and quinoa pudding in favour of congee and noodle soup. Or in the case of Victor Liong — mastermind of Lee Ho Fook and now Lawyers, Guns and Money — simply a clever one. Liong’s food has won plenty of love since opening his modern Chinese restaurant in 2013, so it was no great stretch to imagine this latest, daytime concept of his would go gangbusters, avo or no. And gangbusters it went.

    Vote for Lawyers, Guns and Money.

  • 3
    Matcha Mylkbar

    Melbourne has a new vegan eatery — and it’s fuelled by matcha. The plant-based café comes from Sarah Holloway and Nic Davidson, the same people that brought you (and basically every cafe in Australia) Matcha Maiden. Dubbed Matcha Mylkbar, the cafe will serve an entirely vegan menu to St Kilda locals needing something new to Instagram. Despite what you might assume, Holloway and her business partners aren’t actually vegan themselves. Knowing about the benefits of plant-based eating, they wanted to fuse it with their love of matcha and make it available and affordable to everyone — not just vegans.

    Vote for Matcha Mylkbar.

  • 2
    Left Field

    Carnegie’s new café Left Field has been in the making for six months. If you know what the space on the corner of Koornang and Leila Roads looked like before, you’ll understand why. The building, famous among locals, used to be the bright pink home of a suburban Indian restaurant; now, in its reincarnation as Left Field, it’s been painted in much more understated hues of white and blue. Inside, its fit-out — featuring wooden outdoor seating and indoor plants — is very similar to what you’d find at two other cafes by the owners, Touchwood and Tall Timber.

    Vote for Left Field.

  • 1
    Small Axe Kitchen

    When poring over the menu at Brunswick’s Small Axe Kitchen, two words jump out at you straight away: breakfast pasta. Made with macaroni, sautéed peas, mint, pork cheek, and topped with a slow-cooked egg, it’s the most eye-catching dish at this Sicilian-inspired brunch spot that is fast becoming a northside staple. Other standouts include their grilled brioche with pistachio granita, espresso mousse, nougat and bloody orange jelly, their warm chestnut rice pudding with figs, prunes, almonds and fennel pollen and — you might need to sit down — the fried scarmorza sandwich. The coffee, meanwhile, comes courtesy of Code Black Roasters in all the regular forms — but if you’re having pasta for breakfast, you may as well go for an espresso martini.

    Vote for Small Axe Kitchen.

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