Time Out Food Awards: Best Café

It's a competitive field, and so the cafés nominated for this award are those that tick all the boxes from food to coffee to service

Winner: Silo by Joost

There’s a lot to love about this café. Not only is it a completely waste-free miracle, thanks to genius eco architect Joost Bakker, but thanks to their commitment to foraging and making everything from scratch, they also have one of the most innovative menus in Melbourne. Get counter side and watch chef Matt Stone and crew go to town on the produce. Trout and cheddar are smoked on site and they’re even milling flour to make the bread. It’s a short menu, stuffed with super grains and whatever the farmers tramp into the kitchen. It might be a dish of coddled eggs bunkering down in a nest of grilled pine mushrooms foraged from the hills near Benalla, or a jam jar of organic rice, freekah, and quinoa fattened out with avocado and spicy olive oil and crunched up with chickweed or whatever leaves are going. They’re not anti-meat either, which means you can also get yourself a doorstop corned beef sandwich clouted by mustard. We love the space. You’ll be surrounded by foliage, sitting on benches made from recycled rubber and wood pulp and drinking from upcycled glassware. There are no bins either. All products, from milk and whisky to potatoes, are delivered in reusable kegs and baskets, and even the scraps from your lunch are dehydrated down into compost that goes back to the farms. The coffee’s good too, a direct-trade blend sourced by Genovese and pulled with finesse by boss barista Lachie Macfarlane. And despite all the work that’s gone into the details, nobody is poised to ram an agenda down your throat. They lead by example, and they do a good job. Sustainability, you’ve never been more delicious.

Runners Up

Top Paddock


An open fire, soft shell crab burgers and craft beers. Need we say more? How about the best espressi on Church Street then? Nathan Toleman, Ben Clark, Diamond Rozakeas and new partner Sam Slattery were born to run cafés.

Small Victories

Carlton North

Rathdowne Street came alive this year with a new butcher, greengrocer and deli – not to mention Piqueos and dive bar the Beaufort. This café made it more excellent still, with great coffee, tasty blood pudding and plenty of vinyl. 

St Ali South

South Melbourne

At 9am on a Tuesday Melbourne’s original warehouse-café is pumping. The combination of East Coast hip hop, specialty coffee and as of late, Andrew Gale’s mod-Brit menu make it an enduring legend. 

Grub Food Van


What’s not to love about a café in a greenhouse that has table tennis, baby ploughman’s lunches, an airstream caravan serving cocktails over summer and a live steam of This American Life playing in the toilets? Nothin’.


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First published on 16 Jul 2013. Updated on 13 Jun 2014.

By Time Out Melbourne editors   |  

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