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Restaurants, Cafés Carlton
Parco café
Photograph: Supplied
Coffee at Parco
Photograph: Supplied
Photograph: Supplied

Time Out says

This dinky Carlton café serves hand-to-mouth meals and well-crafted coffees from an old substation

Parco is another in a long line of Melbourne cafés that have, hermit crab-style, taken up residence in teensy weensy, repurposed buildings. That’s not a bad thing. So much of Parco’s charm comes from how it stoically serves Carlton from a tiny old power substation marooned on a spit of land opposite Argyle Square.

Before friends and Parco owners Jarrod Balme and Adrian Pagano decided to make something of space, the substation had been abandoned for at least 20 years. Together with Fitzroy’s Therefore Studios, the duo transformed the building into a café serving hand-to-mouth meals perfect for the streams of commuters making their way into the city each morning.

It wouldn't be a Melbourne café without some form of avocado on some form of bread – at Parco that means a generous smoosh of avo on a slab of rye, topped with earthy pink beetroot, slivered nuts, pepitas and a grilled lime for a little smoke. The breakfast banh mi  is an all time favourite for guests and staff, with the combo of maple bacon, fried egg, pickled carrot, coriander, cucumber and miso mayo on a milk bun proving a winner.

Meats are sourced from Meatsmith, bread and pastries from Dench and the smooth caffeinated brews come courtesy of Coffee Supreme. Those popping by at lunch have the choice of a short menu of sandwiches, soups or salads, plus pastries (many of which are housemade). 

Dining at Parco is unsurprisingly alfresco due to space constraints, making it a popular option for dog owners and dog spotters. Shade umbrellas help keep the summer sun at bay while in winter blankets are doled out for anyone not wearing enough layers.


Address: 2 Argyle Pl S
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-4pm; Sat, Sun 8.30am-4pm
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