Although it's enormous, Hobba is still an inconspicuous looking café. That's because the owners have left the shell of the building untouched, so it still looks the same as it did in its days as a tyre factory.
Upon entry, diners are faced with another surprise: a giant mural of a howling wolf. Random. Here's some context: hobba is the Latin word for word for wolf, which has shaped the café's identity as a grizzly, rough café south of the river. High ceilings sealed with tin, exposed brick walls, and wooden booths come together to give it that toughness the owners intended. But it's food? Well, it's quite the opposite — it's as refined as cafe fare gets.
Of course, Hobba has your usual avocado smash and hotcakes (you've got to keep Melburnians happy), and there's a brisket baguette that's so packed with flavour it almost knocks you out. But the cafe goes further by offering more unique options such as the kimchi baked beans with twice cooked pork belly and wonton skins. That's alongside a smoked fish pie for lunch and a heirloom salad with baby beetroot and sorrel for breakfast. Not that the mealtime labels matter, anyway — the breakfast menu is available until 3.30pm.
To drink there's an abundance of options. Coffee by Five Senses, teas, smoothies, juices, milkshakes — you name it. One of which is called the Healthy Hawksburnian (which may or may not be taking the mickey out of healthy Hawskburn Mums), and is a combo of cucumber, apple, beetroot, carrot and ginger.
There are 100 different places to sit, catered to whatever mood you're in. Diners have the choice of sitting in a booth, against the wall, or on large, communal tables. Wherever you sit, just make sure you're well-behaved on your visit — Hobba is right next door to Prahran police station, which you'll notice as all the big guys trickle in for their coffee hit or lunch break. On the upside, you'll feel incredibly safe.
It's kid-friendly, well equipped for groups of mates and is also a perfect spot for a coffee date. It's no-fuss and laidback, without a pompous piece of furniture — or a tyre, for that matter — in sight.