Melbourne has plenty of talents (hook turns, wearing black and carrying a “just in case” jumper in summer all spring to mind) but breakfast is top of its pops. Australia’s café capital can smash an avo in its sleep, but the post-pandemic revival of the brekky scene has seen the most important meal of the day reassert its brilliance.
Whether it’s exploring new flavour horizons or just doing the classics to a gold standard, the New Melbourne Breakfast has something for everyone.
Yes, you can have cake for breakfast. Just head to backstreet Fitzroy, where pastry chef Patchanida Chimkire’s offbeat flavour extravaganzas tip their head to the classic stylings of the Country Women’s Association while adding contemporary flourishes for maximum zing. One bite of the towering orange yoghurt cake layered with roasted strawberries, poppyseed and yuzu buttercream and you’ll be hooked.
195 Brunswick St via Moor Street, Fitzroy. malibakes.com
Fenton Food & Wine
There’s a beguiling Afro beat to this Carlton café that sources produce from its own organic farm then spins co-owner Nesbert Kagonda’s Zimbabwean heritage through dishes like fried eggs with labneh and chakalaka (a fun way to say “spicy beans”) on focaccia, while a savoury French toast gets its groove on with a zesty Kenyan kachumbari tomato and onion salad.
158 Rathdowne St, Carlton. fenton-farmhouse.com
Ima Asa Yoru
Fish for breakfast is a brilliant proposition at newly relocated Japanese favourite Ima. A Zen-like space at Brunswick’s eco-conscious Nightingale complex is the perfect backdrop for ex-Supernormal chef James Spinks’ selection of brunchtime teishoku. These impressive meal sets might include charry glazed kingfish with miso soup, an onsen egg, crunchy pickles and broccolini stem in a black sesame dressing. Virtue rarely tasted so delicious.
1 Duckett St, Brunswick. imaproject.co
Roslyn Thai Café
Is there anything more comforting at the start of the day than Roslyn’s jok moon sub, a creamy Thai-style pork congee with Chinese doughnuts and the ooze of a soft-boiled egg? We think not – unless it’s the kaya toast with coconut and pandan jam. And if you want to smash a plate of slippery pork and prawn dumplings with nahm jim, herbs and fried garlic before firing up the laptop, we’re right behind you.
477 King St, West Melbourne. roslynthaicafe.com
Kimchi jaffles with fermented garlic honey and cloud-like fruit sandos are the bookends to breakfast brilliance at this cute West Melbourne haunt rocking a double major in Korean and Japanese dishes. Got a big day ahead? The bibimbap rice bowl, brimming with kingfish, albacore tuna, soy-cured eggyolk and various crunchy veg – plus a miso soup side – ought to keep you going until dinnertime.
11-13 Stawell St, West Melbourne. moonmart.com.au
So popular it now has three shops and a range of merch, cult-worthy Hector’s is all about the sandwich. Pretend you’re in New York’s East Village with the multi-layered beef brisket with pickles and kraut on toasted rye, or lift your fresh sandwich game with chicken, cucumber and ranch dressing.
94 Buckingham St, Richmond; 253 Coventry St, South Melbourne and 111 Moor St, Fitzroy. hectorsdeli.com.au
The spicily addictive bazzinga sauce perking up a sausage and egg muffin is enough to put CBD’s Warkop on high breakfast rotation (see also: the black garlic sauce with the bacon and egg muffin). Indonesian expats Barry Susanto (ex-Navi) and Erwin Chandra double down on their flavour nostalgia with brunchtime sangas including charry pork with sambal burrata in fat slices of shokupan.
13 Little Collins St, Melbourne. warkop.com.au
The group behind Sunda, Aru and Parcs is now in the bakery café business. Antara 128’s breakfast crowd is treated to house-baked goods in scintillating combinations like Danish filled with asparagus, cheddar custard and egg, sourdough toast topped with braised greens, toum and fermented chilli and granola with miso-poached pear.
128 Exhibition St, Melbourne. antara.melbourne
The idea of an ‘elevated breakfast dish’ gets the literal treatment at The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne’s 80th-floor restaurant. Stunning sunrise views are the backdrop to a comprehensive breakfast menu centred on Victorian produce, perhaps rock lobster Benedict or French toast with spiced Bacchus Marsh apple and Gippsland sour cream.
Level 80, 650 Lonsdale St, Melbourne. atriadining.com.au
Collingwood’s already excellent Japanese dining scene has been further boosted by Chiaki, a serene, all-day diner with a breakfast offer specialising in ochazuke, the comforting rice and broth dish finished with flavoured oil and toppings ranging from chicken and salmon to salted plum. A two-page menu of Melbourne’s best coffee seals the deal.
49 Peel St, Collingwood. chiaki.com.au
From the folks behind Carlton North’s Florian comes this tiny, timber-panelled gem with reliably great coffee. Expect a compact all-day breakfast list that includes an immaculate mushroom congee served with soft-boiled egg and chilli oil and steel-cut oat porridge with grilled persimmon and a brown butter crumble.
269 Coventry St, South Melbourne. @juniper.eatery
King & Godfree
Making Lygon Street great again, the breakfast menu at this gloriously revamped Carlton stalwart’s deli-café is like a Roman holiday in edible form. Excellence comes in the form of piadina (perhaps stuffed with omelette, green olives and rocket), bacon, egg and salsa rosso panino and whipped ricotta crumpets. Additional temptation comes with the display of pastries, cakes and biscotti at the espresso bar.
293-297 Lygon St, Carlton. kingandgodfree.com
Square One Rialto
Not one for the decision-phobic, Square One’s menu features dishes created by a seasonally changing roster of name chefs, perhaps cumin lamb pancakes with chilli oil from Lee Ho Fook’s Victor Liong, mushroom schnitzel from Greasy Zoe’s Zoe Birch or ube waffles from Kiln’s Mitch Orr. Return visits become imperative.
525 Collins St, Melbourne. squareonecoffee.com.au
A welcome new wave of Thai eateries in Melbourne has expanded the local Thai breakfast repertoire. Udom House plays its part, with excellent Thai-style coffee, both hot and iced (an impressive dirty in particular), alongside the likes of pandan kaya toast, coconut pudding, mackerel khao pad and jaffles filled with Massaman curry.
343 Victoria St, West Melbourne. @udomhouse
Tapping into its Chinatown proximity, the Kmart Centre’s bustling food court offers a variety of choices including dumplings, tea, barbecue and, at Wow Crepes, fortifying, hangover-busting jian bing, the Chinese crepe-wrapped breakfast street food. All the requisite, crunch, spice and crisp-edged egg goodness may have you circling back for another.
Shop 16, Kmart Centre, 222 Bourke St, Melbourne