First published on 29 Oct 2012. Updated on 19 Feb 2014.
Cut a business deal over a power breakfast of top-notch thick-cut bacon, smoked tomatoes and fried eggs, or wag work and spread out with some pals, a bottle of Champagne and baked-to-order madeleines (those little duck-foot shaped cakes) filled with lemon curd. We love how competitive the CBD prices are too. Read the morning papers in Cumulus’s bright gallery-like surrounds, armed with a soft-boiled egg, toast and preserves, yoghurt, compote, juice and a coffee all for $16. Melbourne.
Best for... An inner-city business breakfast
Eat this... Grilled sardines tarted up with tomato, capers and fennel
Perks... Breakfast in a beautiful space for a bargain
Silo is his no-waste CBD café run by Danny Colls, where every fixture is made from recycled material, and every ingredient is foraged or sourced direct from farmers, and crafted into life-affirming salads, soups and snacks. Try the oats – rolled to order before becoming your porridge and topped with truly seasonal poached fruits, or get the surprisingly rich salted, braised leeks with slow-poached eggs and toasted seeds. Start your day like this and just watch the good karma roll in. Melbourne.
Best for... A virtuous breakfast
Eat this... Leek, egg, seeds
Perks... You’re doing your bit for the environment
This café has coffee that always kicks you in the pants; street seating for watching walks of shame; a hangover special – your choice of baked eggs with either a dry cider or a Bloody Mary ($20, not bad), and they make that Bloody Mary with wasabi – which could save your life. They’re also the kings of calorific breakfasts. Anyone who puts brioche French toast with marmalade-glazed bacon and cheesy Welsh rarebit on the breakfast agenda is a friend of ours. Fitzroy.
Best for... Soaking up the weekend scene
Eat this... The hangover special
Perks... Lots of non-egg options
Come the weekend, this Argentinean restaurant can fix you up with a serious slab of flame-grilled flank steak with red onion salsa and eggs. If you’re feeling brave, add Argentina’s favourite boozy herbal remedy and party re-starter, Fernet Branca and Coke. During the week, sink into the super-comfortable leather bar stools for simple dulce de leche (caramel made from condensed milk) on hazelnut bread, with tart poached apple and thick buffalo milk labne. Delicioso! Melbourne.
Best for... Showing your hangover who’s boss
Eat this... Dulce de leche on hazelnut toast
Perks... They have the best bottom-embracing stools in the land
Hammer and Tong has crawled hermit crab styles into the stunning shell recently vacated by the Brix Bistrot. But not only is it the prettiest place to brunch on Brunswick Street, it's also the only joint serving pop rock pancakes to some Caribbean beats. Those pancakes are a fat, fluffy stack of buttermilk frisbees topped with vanilla ice cream that fizzles its way through a sea of syrupy blueberries and crackling candy. Pair that with a biscuity Golden Gaytime shake and you’re breakfasting like it’s your birthday. Take your macchiato (predictably good and powered by nutty beans from the dudes at Duke’s) among the tarts and shortbread at the sleek slate bar or frame yourself in the bay windows out back and photo bomb people’s graffiti shots like a jerk. That’s a Saturday morning all sewn up. Fitzroy.
Best for... A breakfast party and people watching
Eat this... Pop rock pancakes
Perks... They also do dinner
Along with some couture coffee you will also get some sleek Swedish design and smørrebrød action. Smørrebrød, by the way, are open-faced sandwiches on rye. The fried whitebait number here is a winner. The classics shine – salmon is smoked in-house and served with baked zucchini fritters and a perfect slowpoached egg, but we’re all about the whole baked apple stuffed with figs, honey and walnuts and tempered by yoghurt. Fruit stuffed with fruit: doctor-approved. Seddon.
Best for... Sexy décor
Eat this... The baked apple
Perks... A designer space to match your designer breakfast
We’re not sure what we love most about Ora. It’s a dead heat between the walnut eggs– two soft boileds, rolled in a walnut dust crust and flash-fried, before being bedded down in a finely spun pastry thread nest with spicy kasoundi (an Indian tomato chutney) – or the little coffee platter: three teensy glasses containing a cold-drip coffee, a piccolo latte and a soda cleanser. Perhaps it’s knowing that, whatever you order, it will be made from the best of the best. Kew.
Best for... A coffee platter
Eat this... Walnut eggs
Perks... They grow a lot of their own produce
Don’t plan on enjoying regular cafés after a trip to Small Victories. There’s a record player spinning vinyl next the juice machine, and along with the best black pudding we’ve had – all heavily spiced and rough textured – you can get a fresh beetroot juice or a pint of Harcourt cider. Your choice. Stretch out on the street amidst the throngs of silver foxes and bearded hipsters, and don’t miss the porridge, topped with sweet poached fruit, caramelised milk and a crunch of pistachio. Carlton North.
Best for... A pint with your porridge
Eat this... Black pudding and scrambled eggs
Perks... They have a sweet record collection
We’re talking field mushrooms roasted with balsamic vinegar, poached with crème fraîche, fried with chorizo, and doused with pecorino cheese. Run by a pair of designers, this café is a concise piece of sexy, where great style meets a sunny herb-strewn courtyard and incredible food. Every little thing here is pretty, from the stencil art and custom-made glasses to a dish of black sticky rice, ringed with a moat of salted coconut cream and punctuated with a sweet cheek of mango. North Melbourne.
Best for... Feeling like you’ve left town
Eat this... The Hunter (thrice cooked mushrooms with chorizo)
Perks... Everything is beautifully designed
Andrew Gale, owner and former head chef of Duchess of Spotswood has stepped behind the burners at St Ali and has brought a few of his favourite menu items with him. Don’t panic, St Ali’s corn fritters are still here. But now so is a fillet of seared, house-cured salmon with horseradish and dill yoghurt, fried potato gnocchi and a tangle of watercress. Make sure you save some of the golden gnocchi nubs to soak in the rich yolky, yoghurty mix at the end. Between the business chatter and weekend debriefs, the espresso machine, roaster and kitchen cacophony meshes with Mark Morrison’s Return of the Mac, Angel by Massive Attack and some East Coast hip hop care of Mobb Deep. It’s a hell of a soundtrack to your morning. South Melbourne.
Best for... Adventurous breakfasteering
Eat this... The coconut sundae
Perks... The coffee is seriously serious
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