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The Best Cafes in Sydney

How does your favourite Sydney cafe stack up against these brunch-filled, coffee-slinging, mimosa-pouring haunts?
By Andrew Zuccala and Concrete Playground
September 15, 2023
By Andrew Zuccala and Concrete Playground
September 15, 2023


How does your favourite Sydney cafe stack up against these brunch-filled, coffee-slinging, mimosa-pouring haunts?

Choosing the best cafes in Sydney is never an easy feat. The city is full of great casual dining spots and pro-caffeine haunts where you can get perfectly brewed coffee and brunch that goes well beyond the classic avo on toast. We are certainly giving Melbourne — the self-proclaimed home of cafe culture — a run for its money.

Here, you'll find the 20 best Sydney cafes, as voted by our editors and writers, that any food lover should consider visiting. Read on to discover some new spots and see if your favourite has made the cut.


Recommended reads:
The Best Bakeries in Sydney
The Best Restaurants in Sydney
The Best Spots for a Boozy Bottomless Brunch in Sydney
The Best Coffee Shops in Sydney's CBD

  • 20
    Someone making pasta at Two Chaps, Marrickville - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Two Chaps is one of the best things you’ll find behind a garage roller door in Sydney. The Chapel Street cafe has a strong following among vegetarians and pastry lovers, and for good reason — everything on the menu is vego and the kitchen bakes all its own bread and pastries. Plus, almost everything can be done vegan or gluten-free.

    Then on Friday and Saturday evenings, the team serves up a special dinner menu, championing homemade pastas and local cheeses. It is that dedication to quality and craft, as well as the incredibly feel-good neighbourhood vibes, that makes this Marrickville local one of the best cafes in Sydney.

    Image: Alana Dimou

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  • 19
    The main seating space at Matinee Coffee - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    If there’s one place in the world that challenges Australia’s dominance in the brunch game, it’s New York City. The Big Apple’s take on the hybrid meal is decadent, lengthy and boozy. Matinee Coffee on Addison Road in Marrickville takes many cues from the NYC cafe scene — it’s open all day, has a bright and bold fit-out, and you’ll find the bar crew pouring drinks from 10am, from bottles of pinot noir to the classic brunch accompaniments like mimosas and bloody marys.

    This Sydney cafe does a proper coffee for those less inclined to start the day with a beer. Matinee roasts its own coffee beans, bakes the pastries filling its cabinet and makes all sodas and juices found on the menu. Nothing is half-assed here — including the friendly and efficient service — making it one of the best cafes in Sydney.

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  • 18
    A large group of people drinking and eating outside at Jack Gray - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Nestled into the sleepy suburb of south Sydney’s Grays Point, Jack Gray is a cafe by day and a wine bar by night. Open for coffee seven days a week and drinks on Fridays and Sundays, the venue is an exciting opening for the Sutherland Shire with top-notch eats, an exciting wine list and live music all in one place. And it didn’t take long after opening to be widely regarded as one of the best cafes in Sydney.

    Creating a strong sense of community is also important for the team, with owner Ben Coombes stating that “our focus is to bring people together, whether it be with coffee or wine.” And that’s evident from the warm personable service to the price point and variety of options. Everyone’s welcome in this bright and stylish Sydney cafe.

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  • 17
    Staff working at Brighter Coffee - - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    The food menu at this quaint but beloved corner cafe in Stanmore is kept simple with just a few items that change between months and seasons — but one item always stays consistent, and that’s the Kimcheezey toastie.

    The sandwich has built quite a cult following in the Inner West, pressing a healthy serving of kimchi with tomato passata and a blend of gruyere and gouda cheese between two slices of sourdough before it’s toasted until perfectly golden and crunchy. It’s a true delight. But one toastie doesn’t maketh the best cafe in Sydney. Other toastie options, freshly baked pastries, Made of Many coffee and the laidback but super friendly service all help it make this list.

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  • 16
    Someone ordering at Old Gold - - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Old Gold comes from the same team who created Sydney’s own specialty roasters, Sample Coffee. Of course, that means you’re almost guaranteed to get one of the best coffees in Sydney, when visiting — but the team has gone far beyond simply serving a great flat white.

    The all-day menu of breakfast and lunch dishes has made it incredibly popular with Chippendale locals. Take the renowned breakfast roll for example. This beloved beast of a hangover cure is made with a smashed poached egg, fresh slaw, cheese, onion relish, house-made pickles and Big Heart’s hot sauce. The three cheese toastie is also among the most elite in Sydney (possibly Australia) and the affable legends behind the counter make this one of Sydney’s best cafes.

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  • 15
    people sitting inside at coffee supreme brookvale - - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Originally from New Zealand, this increasingly popular coffee roastery has made its way into dozens of Australian cafes. It’s even set up nine of its own cafes and roasteries in New Zealand, Brisbane, Melbourne, Tokyo and (of course) Sydney. This swift growth has not led to any loss of quality — something that’s clear to see to see when visiting the Brookvale location.

    Set within a converted warehouse, this Sydney cafe and roastery serves up an excellent cup of joe alongside a strong all-day breakfast menu. Get around bagels, burgers, bacon and egg rolls and a bunch of other classic brunch and breakfast bites. But our favourite thing to eat here is the Bolognese toastie. Double-carbing really is one of life’s great luxuries.

    Image: Jessica Nash Photography

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  • 14
    A few seats outside St kai on a sunny day - - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    At St Kai, classic Japanese and modern breakfast flavours combine in a brunch-filled flurry. Discover masterful dishes like the donburi rice bowls tossed with ground Wagyu beef, an array of pickles, the secret house sauce and a fried egg delicately placed as the crowning garnish. Think of it as cheeseburger in a bowl, with rice instead of a bun.

    Then there’s the coffee. Few countries share the diehard love for this caffeinated nectar of the gods quite like the Japanese. And that fact is on show at St Kai. It sources Diggy Doo’s beans to serve up classic coffees as well as a few special creations like The Bebop made from coffee jelly, iced milk and two shots of espresso. Expect the unexpected at St Kai, one of the best cafes in Sydney.

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  • 13
    Someone eating a shakshuka at shuk bondi chatswood - - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    A visit to the local shuk (Hebrew for marketplace) in the Middle East is a sensory overload of the best variety. Mountains of fragrant spices waft exotic scents from hessian bags; plump fruits and vegetables in the most vibrant of colours are piled sky-high in handwoven baskets; and hawkers exchange animated greetings and negotiations with regulars.

    This bustling sense of marketplace adventure has been bottled and brought to Bondi, Chatswood, Elizabeth Bay and Surry Hills, in the form of Shuk cafe. Sit down for great coffee and a spicy shakshuka or simply shop a huge selection of deli favourites — Israeli cheeses, olives, nougat and stacks of pickles.

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  • 12
    ice coffee on tap at soulmate, enmore - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Hidden behind Enmore Road in a sleepy backstreet, Soulmate stands out in the stacked Inner West cafe scene. The work of the accomplished team behind some of the best cafes in northwest Sydney — Good Fella and The Tuckshop — this Phillip Street spot is a go-to for good coffee and loaded sandwiches. For fun, grab a cup of cold brew pumped out of the beer taps before digging into one of the best brunches in Sydney.

    All sorts of ingredients are sandwiched between or served on top of every type of bread imaginable at this Sydney cafe. Our current favourite? The deli hoagie which loads up a soft hoagie roll with salami, ham, provolone, tomato, mustard, pickles, guindillas, herb mayo and shredded lettuce. It a stunner, just like most dishes slid across the cafe’s pass.

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  • 11
    The main counters and stools at good fella - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Coffee and bagels are the heroes at Good Fella. Single O beans are treated with love by baristas who perform to Bella Vista locals. And we really mean perform — the bar is at the very centre of this Sydney cafe, with all diners watching on as the front of house team works their magic.

    Fresh bagels are then slathered with classic fillings like cream cheese and smoked salmon and served up on sleek metal trays. The pizza slice of the day is also well worth trying, being of the thicker and fluffier variety. This is a proper hidden gem in The Hills, worth spending a long lazy morning or afternoon in.

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  • 10
    the outside of kosta's takeaway, Rockdale - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Kosta’s Takeaway is a self-proclaimed no-bullshit cafe. The local hole-in-the-wall spot is located right next to a smash repairs workshop in the heart of Sydney’s Rockdale and happens to be serving up some of the best sandwiches in the broader Sydney area with low fuss.

    The ethos is “classic, not basic”.  Don’t expect an artfully curated space or deconstructed meals with theatrics — instead, get around an ever-revolving menu of big and tasty sandwiches accompanied by great coffee, shakes and pastries. You can even buy some of the pickles, ferments and cold cuts to take away, so you can attempt to recreate the magic at home.

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  • 9
    falafel wraps and hot chips at queen ester in newport - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Sydney’s Queen Ester — part Israeli cafe, part falafel bar — wholly matches Newport’s laidback beach town vibes. Have a swim or surf down at Newport Beach and then stroll over to Queen Ester’s for a healthy and damn tasty lunch surrounded by friendly locals.

    The falafel pita pockets filled with homemade hummus, labneh and pickled peppers is a crowd favourite — and can easily be taken on the road when exploring this coastal Sydney suburb. It’s also somewhat of a vegan and vegetarian paradise, championing brightly flavoured Israeli food that’s delicious and good for you.

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  • 8
    Plates of pancakes at happyfield - home to some of the best breakfast in Sydney.

    Happyfield is a relatively new addition to the local brunch scene, but it has already become one of the best cafes in Sydney. It takes inspiration from the classic American diner with bright yellow interiors and a menu packed with US breakfast and lunch staples.

    The ‘proper’ pancakes come stacked high, slathered in Pepe Saya butter and drenched in Canadian maple syrup. There’s no elaborate fuss like specially made compote, hazelnut soil or whipped ricotta addition — there’s a clear focus on the classics. Drinks-wise, you’ve got coffee from Single O, milkshakes (an obligatory menu item for any diner), fresh juices, house sodas and a bunch of boozy beverages.

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  • 7
    People eating at tables and at the bar at rolling penny, - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Looking to start your day with something a little different? Head to the southern end of Newtown’s King Street where you’ll find fresh and unexpected ingredients being piled onto Brickfields bread or between soft, fluffy milk buns at Rolling Penny. After announcing it would be closing its doors back in October 2022, due to popular demand (which more closely resembled mass public outcry) the team returned better than ever.

    This casual dining spot in Sydney has built a cult following over the years through its commitment to local produce and interesting takes on breakfast classics, , including its stellar brekky rolls that go far beyond your standard bacon and egg affair. These delicious dishes help put it towards the top of our best cafes in Sydney list. That and the brilliantly brewed coffee from The Little Marionette.

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  • 6
    The breakfast sandwich at valentinas marrickville - one of the best cafes in Sydney - one of the best breakfasts in Sydney

    The Marickville cafe combines classic diner aesthetics and southern dishes with the best of Australian cafe culture to create one of the most-hyped brunch spots in Sydney’s Inner West. Start off with a traditional diner experience, ordering bottomless filter coffee for just $9. Or go for your usual flat white — they aren’t committed to the bit too seriously to forego the Australian coffee tradition.

    Then there’s the cafe’s menu. The eats on offer can be broken into three sections — all day breakfast, not breakfast and dessert. Get around fluffy pancakes, omelettes and a series of breakfast buns before tucking into toasties and sandwiches in the arvo. The impressive dessert cabinet is also filled with Grumpy Donuts, slices of pie and snickerdoodle cookies. Either come for these takeaway sweet treats or sit in for the full American diner experience here in Sydney.

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  • 5
    The exterior of maggio's cafe - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Since 1998, Maggio’s Cafe in Sydney’s Cammeray has been pumping out traditional Italian pastries and cakes to devout customers who keep coming back for more. But while foodies know this as a destination get some of the city’s best cannoli, ricotta cheesecakes and chocolate tortes, few are keyed into Maggio’s breakfast and lunch offerings. And that’s a travesty.

    The Sydney cafe’s signature dish, Maggio’s Eggs, is the is the perfect combination of Italian cooking’s simplicity and Australia’s particular style of brunch. You get a couple of poached eggs served in a fresh tomato and basil sauce (with the essential side of toast for soaking up every bite). Think of it like a shakshuka made by Nonna. Come lunch, these guys also smash out rustic pizzas and pastas for those looking to dine in or take away.

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  • 4
    the exterior of a.p. town in Newtown, - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    Since early 2020, A.P. Bakery has built a cult following among Sydneysiders through its renowned bake sales. Initially popping up across Sydney before finding a home on the rooftop of Paramount House Hotel with A.P. House, the team has been winning over locals with its bread, pastries, pies, soups, toasties and egg rolls. And A.P. Town, the Newtown outpost, has been a hit since opening with lines of enthusiastic punters curled around the street.

    It’s a super simple menu. But it is incredibly effective. Flavour is loaded in. Freshness is guaranteed. And it changes all the time, depending on what seasonable produce is available to the cooks and bakers. All of this helps make A.P. Town one of Sydney’s best cafes.

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  • 3
    People dining outside under umbrellas at Circa Espresso - - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    This Sydney cafe, located just a five-minute walk from Parramatta Station, fuses Middle Eastern influences with modern Australia eats — resulting in hearty, flavour-packed brekkies, brunches and lunches. Our favourite dish? The Ottomon eggs consisting of crumbed eggplant, garlic labneh, burnt chilli, sage butter, poached eggs and seeded sourdough. It’s a celebration of taste, texture and culinary creativity that elevates it far beyond your standard brunch fare.

    At coffee time, forget about your usual cappuccino or latte. Circa gives you a choice of white, black, hot brew and cold brew. Simple. All beans are carefully selected by the owner Aykut Sayan and roasted in small batches. The small touches and attention to detail help make this one of the best cafes in Sydney.

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  • 2
    People sitting outside at Rollers - one of the best cafes in Sydney

    The brainchild of James Sideris (Butter Boy Bake), Rollers Bakehouse is one of the very best cafes in Sydney. Expect brilliant brews of coffee (with bottomless filter coffee available) as well as some outstanding pastries.

    The speciality here is the croissant, with buttery, flakey classics side by side with playful daily varieties. Sausage rolls and chorizo quiches round out the menu while the house granola is great if you’re looking to start your day with something light and fresh. Pull up a pew in the courtyard that gives poolside Palm Springs energy, listen to some cool 90s tunes and take your time relaxing at this bakery-cafe in Manly.

    Image: Kitti Gould

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  • 1
    people walking past the front of Sandoitchi - the best cafe in Sydney

    We’ve gone ahead and made the decision — Sandoitchi is the best cafe in Sydney. Let us explain why it tops the list. For one, the katsu sandwiches are sought out and worshipped as well they deserve to be, the first bite of crunchy-sweet-umami beyond the soft white bread akin to a spiritual experience for sandwich aficionados. Sydney isn’t short on good versions of this singular Japanese creation, but this one is arguably the best (and, as you can see, we’re arguing).

    The katsu-style poke bowls are also big winners. Then the dessert lovers are lucky enough to find both the fruit sando and the strawberry sando on the menu, too — aesthetically pleasing sweet pastries in sandwich form that are easy to take away. Add a cup of Single O Paradox coffee (Sandoitchi’s house-blend for milk coffee) or a cup of Mork hot chocolate for the ultimate Sydney cafe experience.

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Top image: Queen Ester.

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