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Sydney's Best New Cafes of 2018

These six cafes serve up more than just top-notch coffee.
By Concrete Playground
November 21, 2018
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 charcoal 'sushi' croissants and house-baked bread to all-day eateries and a minimalist Japanese cafe serving pork katsu breakfast rolls, 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 Sydney to be a better, braver city. And so, we nominated these six newbies for Best New Cafe in Concrete Playground's Best of 2018 Awards. You can check out all the winners over here.

  • 6
    Edition Haymarket

    Steam Mill Lane nabbed another good’un when Edition Coffee Roasters opened its second location in the foodie precinct this June. And it’s a good thing, considering that the much-loved Darlinghurst location has since closed. Edition Haymarket has a similar minimalist vibe to the Darlinghurst digs, but is otherwise a stark departure from the original. While Darlinghurst was more bright and airy, Haymarket has a much darker colour palette with charred and exposed beams, a gray-blue concrete bar with stone tiles and textured walls meant to emulate a Japanese farmhouse. The seasonal menu carries across the cafe’s signature Japanese-meets-Scandinavian flare, though this time it has a deeper focus on the former, thanks to Japanese-born head chef Shinichi Hasegawa (Bentley, Icebergs). Many of the Darlinghurst cafe’s cult favourites have already made their way to Haymarket, including the famous soufflé pancake topped with berry compote. New dishes have a bit of a fine-dining lean — something not common in cafes — with the likes of miso-glazed lamb rump with smoked mash and charred sprouts, and grilled king prawns with shellfish butter and charred lemon. And you can, of course, expect the brand’s top-notch cuppas all day, too.

    Words: Marissa Ciampi. Images: Trent van der Jagt.

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  • 5
    Ona Marrickville

    With a swag of popular ACT cafes under its belt and many an award, Canberra’s largest specialty coffee roaster Ona finally opened a Sydney outpost this year. Step inside the Marrickville cafe and you’ll notice a huge central coffee bar, where you can engage with the baristas and letting you watch your cuppa being made. The bright, minimalist cafe space is a coffee-lover’s heaven, offering espresso, filter and milk-based options, with a rotation of blends and single origins to choose from. As with all One Coffee venues, milk-based coffees here are served only as a traditional cappuccino (without chocolate), the consistency allowing the beans to play the starring role. Those looking for food will find a simple, approachable lineup of cafe-style fare, including creations like the tomato stracciatella with grapes, olive, basil oil and rye, and a kingfish smørrebrød topped with lemon aioli, capers and pickles.

    Words: Libby Curran. 

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  • 4
    A1 Canteen

    Chef Clayton Wells has won over many a Chippendale foodie’s heart since opening Automata in 2015, and this year he extended his reach. A1 Canteen is Automata’s more casual all-day counterpart, open for brekkie, lunch, dinner and snacks, including pastries and sandwiches, so you can sit down and take your time or grab a tasty morsel and run. The curried egg scramble with LP’s sausage and english muffin is one of the most popular breakfast dishes, and the lineup of sandwiches shouldn’t be missed — they range from a salted beef bagel, to a fried eggplant sandwich and a pressed baguette, which is Wells’s take on a New Orleans muffaletta. Return at night and you’ll find a menu with slightly more similarities to sister-venue Automata. Split into small and large plates, a steamed clams with anchovy butter sit in the former and a black angus hanger steak with pine mushrooms in the latter.

    Words: Samantha Teague. 

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  • 3

    This newcomer takes cues from NYC in a number of ways: it’s open all-day, it serves booze — including neighbouring brew Grifter on tap — and it has an unabashedly bold fit-out. A jewel-toned colour palette tracks through orange table-tops, a crimson-tiled communal table, green velvet chairs and a mural on the back wall. There are references to old-school milk bars in the blue marmoleum flooring and a neon-lit menu above the coffee machine (which pumps out a custom house blend by Collective Roasting Solutions). For the most part, the kitchen has avoided fads (à la cronuts) and instead does fresh takes on well-worn cafe favourites, with some solid gluten-free and vegan options. The coffee-rubbed pork hash ($18) is flavoursome and the Persian rice kedgeree ($15) with currants, almonds and goat’s cheese is a winner, particularly when hacked with hot smoked salmon ($6). 

    Words: Melanie Colwell. Image: Letícia Almeida.

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  • 2
    Rollers Bakehouse

    Manly’s cafe scene gained massive bragging rights this year. Bo Hinzack (of local coffee shop Showbox Coffee Brewers and Mosman’s Penny Royal) and James Sideris (Butter Boy Bake) teamed up to open Rollers Bakehouse. While this is the duo’s first collaboration, Sideris has been regularly supplying Hinzack’s cafes with baked goods for years. Patrons can expect a mix of sweet and savoury items that changes daily. Some potentials include millennial pink croissants, stuffed bagel rolls, bacon-topped savoury danishes and a charcoal croissant called the Sushi Roll. Sausage rolls and meat pies are also on offer, including Greek-style lamb rolls with house-made tzatziki and hamburger rolls served with house burger sauce. Beans come from Sydney-based Okay Coffee, which you can sip among breeze blocks, succulents and a courtyard and appropriate 90s music.

    Words: Marissa Ciampi. 

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  • 1
    Good One Cafe

    Buttermilk pancakes and a side of bacon at any time of day — good one. Almond milk (made fresh on-site each day) at no extra cost — good one. And a toast menu that extends well beyond peanut butter, Vegemite or jam — good one. Sensing a clear theme? It’s these thoughtful touches and a willingness to accommodate that help Good One Cafe stand out in Bondi’s already health-conscious cafe crowd. Eager to please, Good One caters for all dietary requirements, to the point that nearly every item on the menu can be made vegan-friendly. While healthy options are its forte, Good One acknowledges that on some mornings you’ll want an overwhelmingly green omelette with courgette, kale, soft herbs and hippie mix ($18), and on others you’ll crave a sizeable stack of buttermilk pancakes with berry compote, pistachio streusel and vanilla mascarpone ($17). Regardless of what you choose, if you wash it down with one of the cafe’s wellness smoothies, which are jam-packed with obscurely healthy ingredients, the balance will be easily tipped in your favour. At the end of the day Good One is giving the people what they want, with some unique added touches.

    Words: Alexandra Middleton. Images: Letícia Almeida.

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Top image: Matinee Coffee by Letícia Almeida.

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