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The Best Spots in Melbourne CBD For a Weekday Breakfast

Never turn up to work hungry again.
By Concrete Playground
May 05, 2021
By Concrete Playground
May 05, 2021


Never turn up to work hungry again.

While Melbourne's obsession with weekend breakfasts is ingrained in its identity, the first meal of the day is sometimes overlooked during the week in favour of a few more snoozes and a couple of extra minutes in a warm bed. We're all about those zzzs, but it's no excuse for skipping brekkie — especially if you work or study in the city. Morning meal options abound in the CBD, with cafes opening early during the week, ready to ply you with good food and even better coffee to start that day right. 

So, for the sake of nutrition, productivity and your tastebuds, we've put together a list of the best spots for a top-notch weekday breakfast. Take a moment to sit down, read the news and digest before you get locked into the daily grind. 

  • 11

    On the weekend, this cafe from the team behind Top Paddock and The Kettle Black usually requires a wait — which is exactly why you should tee up a pre-work visit instead. The huge 160-seat heritage-listed powerhouse on the corner of Little Bourke and Spencer streets is impressive to say the least; a palette of exposed brick and green marble is spread across a multi-level space, which includes an elevated dining area, an open kitchen, and a large mezzanine that holds couches, tables and its own bar. So, it’s the perfect place to breakfast alone or even hold a meeting. The brunch menu is served up until 3pm, boasting the likes of avo on toast with a Vegemite emulsion, a spanner crab benedict and even a rendition of the famous Top Paddock ricotta hotcake.

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  • 10

    Located in a section of the State Library that had been closed for more than 15 years, Guild Cafe opened in 2018 as part of the precinct’s extensive refurbishments. Run by the minds behind Almond Milk Co, the cafe resides just inside the Library’s Russell Street entrance. It offers a short but sweet menu, with Hamptons Bakery pastries starring alongside breakfast options including granola with minted coconut yoghurt, and a vegan ramen featuring nori and pickled ginger. With lots of communal tables, big windows, ample light and an all-day filter coffee pass available for $10, this is the perfect nook to have a meal and a productive morning.

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  • 9

    For those in demanding jobs, it can be difficult to get your brain moving in the morning. If you think surrounding yourself with suspended bookshelves and pillars filled with pot plants will get things going, head down Flinders Lane to Journal. Simplicity is key at this long-standing restaurant, which serves a menu centred on classic breakfasts such as pastries, fried eggs and well-crafted toasties. There’s Italian coffee, fresh juices and even a handful of cocktails to match. Plus, you can pick up wifi from the nearby City Library.

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  • 8

    Long-running Hardware Street cafe Hardware Societe sadly closed its doors earlier this year. But in happy news for fans of quality CBD brunching, its newer 255-square-metre sibling site remains open and kicking, promising a grander space and shorter queues. Here, a well-rounded menu of creatively-charged brunch fare boasts something to tickle just about everyone’s morning craving. Give the pork belly with fried eggs a try, tuck into a lush lobster benedict, or start your day with the fried brioche with raspberry compote.

    Image: Peter Tarasiuk.

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  • 7

    The hanging foliage and whitewashed brick walls of Manchester Press are a refreshing sight for early morning visits. This cavernous laneway cafe usually sings with a hum of happy people plunked on retro school chairs, enjoying their specialty coffees by Ona and bites from the bagel-focused menu. The food offering is centred around open and closed bagels, of both the sweet and savoury variety. Try crafty combinations like bacon, maple and banana, or sweeten things up with the honey and ricotta number — or take those tastebuds on a trip to the Big Apple by way of a classic New York lox bagel.

    Image: Visit Victoria.

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  • 6

    Now-closed Brunswick East neighbourhood favourite Pope Joan lives on, after setting up shop on Collins Street in the CBD a couple of years back. These days, new Head Chef Bente Grysbaek is carrying on the legacy, plating up a range of old-school favourites and clever new dishes that are perfect for your weekday morning. The recently revamped breakfast menu has all the classics you’ll need to start a day strong, including the famed rhubarb-topped rice pudding and the boiled eggs with soldiers — as well as fresher additions like a shiitake omelette with white pudding and a Danish-inspired hash featuring beef rump and potato gems.

    Image: Annika Kafcaloudis.

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  • 5

    If your weekday mornings are spent somewhere a little more corporate, Liminal might be the perfect multi-functional space for you to fuel up at before popping off to work. Located in the foyer of the T&G Building, this all-day diner has become a precinct favourite for the hungry AM crowd. Here, admire stretches of marble and lounge on comfy contemporary couches while you enjoy a wide range of brekkie staples. Some menu highlights include the wattleseed granola served with a buttermilk and passionfruit panna cotta, and a chilli scramble with buffalo mozzarella — or, you can opt for the classic brioche bacon and egg roll. The venue also serves as a wine store, event space and marketplace.

    Image: Carmen Zammit.

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  • 4

    Chicken and waffles might sound indulgent as a breakfast dish, but sometimes it’s necessary. Bowery to Williamsburg‘s take on the southern classic will sort you out, whether you’re a little dusty, had a large morning workout or simply feel like treating yo’self. An illuminated subway sign reading ‘Bowery to Williamsburg’ welcomes diners into the laneway eatery, paying homage to the subway stations of New York. And similarly, menu options like filled bagels, pastrami sandwiches and a cheesy cornbread topped with brisket will instantly transport you to some US deli. There are pickles, shakshuka and top-notch Padre coffee — the latter served with a Hershey’s Kiss if you’re dining in.

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  • 3

    White Mojo serves up one of the CBD’s more indulgent morning menus — perfect if you’re treating yourself to a birthday breakfast, have a particularly big deadline or, y’know, it’s a Tuesday. A few primo examples: the signature soft-shell crab burger comes piled into a croissant with a chorizo crumb and fried eggs, and the apple pie french toast is matched with a peanut butter semifreddo. Alternatively, you can opt for the relative simplicity of the avocado smash, elevated with green peas, a tahini puree and feta — but you might find yourself with a bout of food envy. The coffee here is also on point, with the in-house roastery picking up a swag of awards over recent years.

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  • 2

    The bottom part of Flinders Lane is usually overshadowed by its significantly more impressive top end. However, tucked down there is The Grain Store, a spacious eatery offering homey, substantial breakfast dishes filled with real ingredients. The vibe at The Grain Store is exactly what it sounds like and the space itself is reminiscent of a farmhouse. Behind barn doors, you’ll find dry-cured bacon and avocado bagels, savoury french toast with mushrooms and parmesan custard, and honey plum ricotta pancakes. If you’re totally rushed or want to get a group in, call ahead and book a table.

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  • 1

    Rocking a playful space filled with navy accents and dreamy pink terrazzo, and nestled within the new 80 Collins precinct, Maverick is a vibrant modern cafe from the minds behind Richmond’s Mayday Coffee & Food. Here, you can settle in over specialty coffee by Axil and pastries from Richmond’s Penny for Pound, or a taste of the kitchen’s creative seasonal breakfast fare. Early mornings are made all the more palatable with the likes of thick-cut rye topped with mushrooms, hazelnuts and smoked curd, or the house-made pastrami benedict featuring lashings of bearnaise sauce. Or, treat that sweet tooth to the waffles, crowned with fresh strawberries and double cream.

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Top image: Hardware Societe by Peter Tarasiuk.


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