Brunching in Melbourne is a city-wide tradition, and one that locals take very seriously. A couple of tips: make a reservation (or be prepared to queue), and choose your restaurant wisely – the best are the envy of Instagram, boast single-origin beans and have a carefully curated menu of health bowls and indulgent avo on toast. But before you take to the streets, read our roundup of the best brunch spots in the city.
One of those places where the food really tastes as good as it looks on their Instagram feed. The Kettle Black specialises in steamy hotcakes topped with whipped ricotta, and the quintessential mimosa. The space is more design studio than café – think monochrome tiling and cloudy-grey marble inside, and a stark white intricately carved wooden exterior with tables lining the pavement. You won’t leave this place feeling hungry (or without a new post for your feed).
50 Albert Rd, South Melbourne, 3205
A haven of Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine, Babajan is perfect for fans of spice. Swap your morning oats for a rose and cardamom rice pudding, or be daring and try out the eggplant Aleppo cheese toastie with fermented chilli – it has quite a kick. If you’ve still got room for more (or you couldn’t get a table – the café is very small), the bakery has snacks to go, all popping with colour and daintily dusted with icing sugar.
713 Nicholson St, Carlton North, 3054
One of the most striking interiors in the city, Higher Ground is a café-cum-restaurant in a brick warehouse building, with dramatic vaulted roof, sleek black aesthetic and exotic plants. On the menu? Wake-me-up items such as mango and coconut chia, or oozing roast mushroom and smoked raclette toast. It’s well known for its coffee, too, so don’t forget to order a flat white or, for something different, give the spiked iced coffee a whirl.
650 Little Bourke St, 3000
This feel-good family business serves peanut butter and tomatoes on toast alongside salt and pepper calamari with chilli jam and green papaya, and eggs Benedict with apple-cider hollandaise – which might sound weird but trust us on this one. Barry’s focus is on health food, and you shouldn’t leave without trying one of the nutrient-packed smoothies. The interior is simple but stylish – pull up a stool in the all-white dining room and people-watch through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Don’t worry if you’re travelling with kids either – they get their own menu that sticks to the classics: cheese and Vegemite toast and Coco Pops with milk.
85 High St, Northcote, 3070
Everything Fledgling serves seems carefully planned out and almost too pretty to eat. All-day dishes are seasonal and made with local produce, with standouts including the banana bread French toast with mascarpone and hot-pink candy floss, and the slow-roasted mushrooms with thyme, garlic, chilli and cashew cream. Your latte comes with exquisite swirls on top, plus there are vegan and gluten-free options on the menu, too.
412 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North, 3054
SoJo to those who know and love it – and that’s a lot of people – this little café has a chilled atmosphere and friendly service. It’s eco aware, too, powered mostly by solar panels, and recycling and using local products wherever possible. Grab yourself a cappuccino and a plate of the corn and zucchini fritters (a customer favourite), take a seat in the sunny courtyard and enjoy.
46 Oxford St, Collingwood, 3066
This Melbourne joint is incredibly popular among locals, always a good sign. And there’s nothing ordinary about it, from its repurposed shipping-container construction to the lovingly tended kitchen garden that provides produce for the menu. Praised for its coffee, Rudimentary serves the classics and does them well: buttermilk waffles, bubble and squeak, and free-range eggs on sourdough. Just like that, brunch in a shipping container became a thing.
6-20 Leeds St, Footscray, 3011