Melbourne's best breakfasts
Best For: A sustainable breakfast with a Japanese touch
Eat this: The smashed avo with nori paste and furikake
Perks: Bring your own coffee cup for 50c off your morning brew
Ima is the brainchild of couple-turned-business partners James Spinks and Asako Miura. This Japanese café’s considered space and menu is the culmination of Spinks’ experience cheffing at restaurants such as Quay, Sake and Supernormal as well as the half-Thai, half-Japanese Miura’s background in architecture and interior design.
Best for: When you need some spice in your life
Eat this: Crab and haloumi omelette with cucumber, avocado, radicchio and a kefalograveria dressing
Perks: There's a speedy take-away counter for when you're on the run. Pastries, both sweet and savoury, change daily and are not to be missed.
Chefs Kirsty Chiaplias and Ismail Tosun (formerly of the Workers’ Food Room and Gigibaba, respectively) have teamed up to open a café serving modern Turkish fare. They make everything from scratch, in-house, and all the action is visible from the 20-odd seats inside. On any given day, the fruits of their labour include piles of hearty salads that wouldn't look amiss in an Ottolenghi cookbook, teacakes, pastries, and Turkish breads like pide and simit.
Best for: A spiced-up morning
Eat this: The egg hopper
Perks: House-made drinks like a Ceylon bubble tea, a passionfruit icy pole dunked in amber-hued passionfruit tea from the family’s estate in Sri Lanka, energised with popping pearls and sparkling water.
Nerissa Jayasingha and Hiran Kroon opened Lankan Tucker in a quiet pocket of Brunswick West in 2016, and their cosy Sri Lankan café has all the trappings of a typical Melbourne haunt – St Ali coffee, laidback vibes, lots of greenery, service-with-a-smile. Aussie brunch favourites come with an accent – smashed avo is jazzed up with turmeric hummus and snow pea tendrils, and house-cured salmon is glazed with arrack, a spirit made from the fermented sap of coconut flowers, popular in the Indian subcontinent.
Best for: Loading up on quality carbs
Eat this: The fruit bread packed with raisins, apricot and full dates dressed with mascarpone and lemon curd
Perks: You can buy your week's worth of bread from the counter when you pay.
Wild Life Bakery is so much more than a bakery and so much more than a cafe, but is somehow both of those things. Tearing into the crunchy, deep caramel crust of Wild Life Bakery's sourdough feels like holy communion with carbs. The intense, chewy crumb in slices swabbed with miso butter or dipped into harissa-heavy shakshouka is why locals cram this bakery for breakfast.
Best for: Taking house-made salted caramel doughnuts for the trip home
Eat this: Buttermilk waffle with pancetta, quince and quark
Perks: Discovering the other wonders of Footscray, like the bustling food market and authentic African eats.
Not only does Footscray’s favourite café serve reliably good breakfast, it also makes you want to live in a shipping container. This café, fashioned from three of them, looks as good as any: think leather mid-century chairs in taupe, mustard yellow and olive, pale timbers, green tiling and fresh flowers aplenty. Outdoor seating is shaded by umbrellas and surrounded by planter boxes verdant with herbs, the latter of which feature on the menu. From the ocean there's smoked trout scrambled through eggs with salmon roe and pickled fennel. From the land, pork belly braised with crispy pig's ear, chilli and tamarind, served with fried eggs. Not bad for what was previously a derelict car park.
Best for: Hanging with Fitzroyalty
Eat this: Fried egg on crispy Korean rice cakes
Perks: A courtyard, vinyl and brekkie until 3pm.
Brought to you by the team behind Collingwood’s popular Bluebird Espresso Café, Archie’s has been busily serving breakfast, lunch and dinner since opening in April 2015. Bluebird’s famous smashed avocado has carried over to the new menu, which also features huevos sucios (better known as ‘dirty eggs’) served with tater tots, salsa, black beans, fried eggs, chipotle mayo and jalapeño-spiked cheese, along with grilled French toast with sweet potato custard and smoked maple cream. With lunch served from 10am, you can opt for some serious burgers and sarnies for breakfast, too.
Best for: The only thing they do: the sandwich
Eat this: The pastrami sandwich; Meatsmith's wagyu pastrami wedged between light rye sourdough with house-made relish, sauerkraut, and pickles
Perks: Making copious amounts of cheese and meat a socially acceptable breakfast option.
When the 18th-century English aristocrat John Montagu, aka the 4th Earl of Sandwich, started the trend of eating meat tucked between bread, he could never have envisioned how far the humble sandwich would come. Now we have Hector’s Deli, a café in Richmond dedicated to sandwiches – classic combinations made with high-quality ingredients and decked out with extra flourishes. No eggs. No fancy plating. No cutlery. Considering co-owners Jason Barratt and Dom Wilton have worked at Melbourne institutions like Stokehouse and Attica, you should buckle up for a sandwich shop with some serious cachet.
Best for: A zen breakfast
Eat this: The traditional Japanese breakfast with salmon (only available on the weekends)
Perks: The café is attached to a Japanese handcrafted homewares store. Enter if you're feeling flush.
Cibi is housed in a converted workshop – a bright and spacious room filled with light, decorated with an odd but pretty mix of colourful posters, tools and industrial flotsam displayed as art objects. The open-plan kitchen occupies pride of place directly behind the counter, where customers can watch their food being prepared if they are so inclined. The menu offers both Japanese and western-style dishes, with an emphasis on quality, organic ingredients and beautiful presentation. If neither the half-boiled eggs nor the avocado and lemon bruschetta appeal, try the Japanese breakfast plate, with rice, vegetables and either salmon or “more vegetables”.
Best for: New York-style eatin’
Eat this: Chicken and waffles
Perks: Sides worth ordering.
God bless America. The country gave us the Reuben, the lox bagel, and mac and cheese. But it was Bowery to Williamsburg, the CBD laneway café modelled on a New York subway station, that gave us slow-roasted kaiserfleisch with maple mustard and poached eggs, along with fried challah topped with everything from whipped peanut butter to lemon curd. Dishes here are generous and satisfying. It’s more soul food than wholefood, with the sheer amount of melted cheese on said Reuben enough to slow your heart just looking at it. Everything in moderation.
Best for: A designer breakfast
Eat this: Burrata and heirloom tomato on toast
Perks: Chef's table on the upper level of the terrace – for a price.
House-made coconut yoghurt; local kelp salt; ash rolls – these are a few of our favourite things on the menu at Top Paddock’s younger, more refined sister. The care that goes into sourcing and preparing ingredients here is on par with some of Melbourne’s better dinner destinations. It’s most obvious in dishes like chilli scrambled eggs with cured Flinders Island wallaby and feta, and polenta porridge with burnt maple and textures of strawberry and basil. Housed in a shiny Victorian terrace beneath an apartment complex, the interior is as flash as the food: all white marble, gold and green.
Best for: Changing up brunch
Eat this: Bird nest scotch egg in potato chip nest
Perks: The ‘wow’ factor.
It’s always a good sign when you can’t decide what to order. It’s a common problem here, where breakfast is a cut above. Textures rule in dishes such as Wild Forest: a beautiful mess of chilli scrambled eggs with potato, mushroom, bacon, crackling and fennel. Also in the scramble department is Finding Nemo: chunky with salmon and covered in bonito flakes that wave in the heat. Amid the white-tiled, Edison-bulbed cafe are beakers and siphons, a hint at Lights in the Attic’s experimental nature.
Best for: Brekkie in the ‘burbs
Eat this: Prawn and corn fritters
Perks: Padre coffee, best enjoyed in the courtyard.
“Let’s hit up Balwyn for Sunday brunch,” isn’t something you often hear, unless the hungry uttering it are talking about Mr Hendricks. The owners, who grew up in the area, were all too familiar with the lack of breakfast options around. They’ve filled the gap with brioche French toast served with poached pears and caramel sauce, plus their #yolkporn-worthy crispy eggs coated in panko crumbs and deep-fried, cosying up with sweet potato puree, ham hock and fennel salad.