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Deli display at Napier Quarter
Photograph: Graham Denholm

The best breakfasts in Melbourne

The abundance of choice when it comes to breakfast options in our city can be both a blessing and a curse – so let us help you

Jade Solomon
Written by Jade Solomon
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Aaah, breakfast – the sweet (or savoury) reward for getting out of bed after snoozing your alarm a few too many times. It's a platform of endless possibilities: a catch-up with an old friend, a brekky date, a wholesome family outing or even a hangover cure on a Sunday morning. 

We take the ritual of breakfast very seriously in our city, with the Melbourne café scene developing a cult-like following over the years. Like an unspoken collective mission, Melbournians are always on the hunt to find a really good one. So when overcooked eggs and soggy toast just won’t cut it, these are the places worth making time for, worth lining up for, and worth spending your hard-earned cash on. 

Love a sweet breakfast? These are the best pancakes in Melbourne.

Melbourne's best breakfasts

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Carlton North

It’s the attention to detail, quality produce and highly considered seasonally rotating menu that makes this cosy Carlton North café stand out from the pack. Behind an unassuming blue façade on Rathdowne St, Florian is humbly bringing breakfast back to its roots. 

What elevates the breakfast at Florian is the obvious care taken with each ingredient on the plate. The gravlax is an old faithful that rightly holds a permanent spot on the menu. What looks like a simple dish, proves to be a masterpiece of balance and refinement. Glossy, thickly sliced gravlax and toast that is, without sounding trite, perfectly toasted. A luxurious jammy egg, pillowy light ricotta, all rounded out with crunchy, peppery radishes and a few sprigs of tarragon. While the menu is not huge, it is still difficult to choose just one – but you really can’t go wrong.

Best for: a place to indulge in a wholesome, slow-paced morning – with guaranteed great food, attentive and friendly service and a side of interesting people watching. 

Eat this: whatever seasonal speciality catches your eye. 

Perks: an unmissable pastry (from Austro Bakery), which makes for the perfect breakfast entrée or breakfast dessert (or both). The cinnamon and dark chocolate bun is an oversized scroll of golden goodness, studded with chocolate pieces and generously rolled in sugar and spice.  

  • Restaurants
  • Collingwood
  • price 2 of 4

This Japanese concept store in Collingwood is as charming as the food is delightful. Cibi is warm and welcoming, and consistently serves exceptional quality Japanese inspired breakfasts – such as the OG Japanese breakfast plate or miso baked eggs. The craftsmanship of the chefs is evident in each simple ingredient, such as the Cibi rice blend, which serves as the perfect base for many of their dishes. The quality of the produce is undeniable, with fresh grilled fish and crunchy seasonal vegetables elevating each dish.

The owners of Cibi, which means ‘little one’, set out to remind us that there was a time when we were all cibi - young, naïve and adventurous. Stepping into Cibi is like a return to our innocent former selves; where curiosity is encouraged as you explore the delicate Japanese homewares, the lush plants in the nursery, and the curated selection of Japanese grocery ingredients, all housed within the same charismatic warehouse that makes you never want to leave.   

Best for: a place to leave your worries at the door and be comforted by nourishing food that is good for your soul.

Eat this: the traditional Cibi Japanese breakfast plate which comes with grilled salmon, tamagoyaki egg omelette, seasonal vegetables, Cibi rice blend and miso soup.

Perks: Meg’s Grandma’s Miso Soup tastes like a warm hug and feels like it could cure all ailments. 

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Monk Bodhi Dharma
  • Restaurants
  • St Kilda

Monk Bodhi Dharma has been serving predominantly plant-based food since way before it was cool. This tiny hole-in-the-wall in a literal car park embodies the spunk of Balaclava, all while serving food that is honest, satisfying, good for you and good for the planet. 

The menu is varied and interesting and we don’t say this lightly, almost every dish is excellent. The Umami Mushrooms with goats cheese (or vegan alternative) are rich and decadent. The Banana Dharma Pancakes with dulce de leche ice cream will put a pep in your step for the rest of the day. The toastie with pan-fried potato, chilli mayo, pickles and rocket, will have you existentially questioning your previous held belief that a toastie sans cheese was in fact no toastie at all. 

Best for: satisfying a variety of dietary requirements, without having to sing and dance about its vegan-friendly-ness. The food holds its own so well that you never realise you’re missing anything.

Eat this: the Hungry Jimbo. Thick slabs of crunchy, Vegemite-laden polenta bread, capped with mountains of sliced avo, sprinkled with goats cheese (or almond feta) and bejewelled with roast cherry tomatoes and glistening red chili oil.

Perks: this place serves up some serious quality coffee from their own in-house grinders, as well as a healing house-brewed chai for those needing a little rejuvenation in liquid form. 

  • Bars
  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy
  • price 1 of 4

This pint-sized neighbourhood espresso and wine bar, manages to strike a fine balance between cosiness and elegance in a considered and clever way. Napier Quarter champions the artisan while providing a sanctuary of comfort, wonder and delight on a quiet corner tucked away behind Brunswick Street.  

It is an all-day affair at Napier Quarter; early morning pastries, midday brunches, evening snacks and late-night wines. However, the breakfast really holds its own here. We love this menu because unlike most other cafés where one must painstakingly choose just one dish, here, the menu (which changes often) is built mostly of small snacks that are designed to be ordered together. Toast or fresh baguette with butter and preserves. Two boiled eggs with chives. Pickled vegetables. Cured meats or cheeses. The simple seasoning and astute additions to each small plate demonstrate a great deal of refinement, and the utmost respect for impeccable produce. 

Best for: lovely, long, leisurely, late breakfasts that may or may not turn into an early afternoon glass of wine or two. 

Eat this: the Anchovy Toast. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. 

Perks: the adjoining guesthouse is the perfect home away from home for an indulgent staycation or a place to recommend to out of towners to experience Melbourne living at its absolute best.

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Mile End Bagels
  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy

As they say, a bagel a day keeps the doctor away. Scientifically proven perhaps not, but bagels are good for you – good for your soul, your happiness, and your general enjoyment of life. 

Bagels reign supreme at Mile End Bagels with outposts in Fitzroy and Brunswick. Not just any bagels, but Montreal-style boiled in honey water and cooked in a wood-fired bagel oven (the first of its kind in Australia). The menu ranges from stunningly simple (chive cream cheese on a sesame bagel), to traditionally delightful (smoked salmon, dill and caper cream cheese, tomato and onion), to decidedly different (beetroot, avo, cashew nut cream cheese and rocket). Look for the bright pink BAGELS sign, if the lengthy queue isn't obvious enoug. 

Best for: big bagels and big flavours to satisfy big appetites and big expectations. 

Eat this: the Brisket Pastrami bagel with cream cheese, pickles and hot ‘n’ sweet mustard. 

Perks: the ooey gooey Japanese style cheesecake from Only Cheesecake (check them out on Instagram @only.cheese.cake) which is available at the counter until sold out (better be quick).

Falco Bakery
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Collingwood

Because breakfast doesn’t have to be complicated. Small-batch bakery Falco reminds Melbournians that good bread is really the essence of life. The menu is simple – toasts, pastries, pies and sandwiches. In a complicated world, let breakfast at Falco be your antidote to the demands and challenges of everyday life. 

With a resume including stints at Tartine in San Francisco, and Melbourne bakery beacons Tivoli Road and Loafer Bread, it is no wonder that Head Baker/Co-Owner Christine Tran is bringing some of the best bread in Melbourne to Collingwood. Whether you are queueing up for a loaf of bread, a peanut butter and miso cookie, or the inimitable egg salad sandwich, those in the lane snaking down Smith St share a collective, unspoken understanding; the wait, no matter how long, really is worth it at Falco. 

Best for: celebrating local. As they say at Falco, Sourced locally, baked locally, enjoyed locally.

Eat this: bring along a group willing to share and order various pies, sandwiches and toasties amongst yourselves – it is simply too difficult to choose just one. 

Perks: often rotating specials entice you to keep coming back for me – like the buffalo chicken pie, which at the time of writing, was sending Falco fans bonkers.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cremorne

While waiting for a table at a restaurant is probably something that annoys your dad, and can admittedly make for a frustrating start to a Sunday morning, it is undeniable that a long queue, like the inevitable one outside Top Paddock on any given weekend, reaffirms your choice of café. Plus, the adrenaline rush when your name is called makes securing a table just that little bit sweeter (yes, okay, maybe we need to get new hobbies). 

Top Paddock is an indisputable breakfast institution. With a great vibe, considered and classic breaky dishes and a commitment to sustainable and organic ingredients from local producers, it’s hard to go wrong. Multiple coffee machines around the café speak to the serious manner in which they approach their coffee at Top Paddock. Heck, you can even order a filter flight or a barista’s breakfast (espresso, flat white, and a batch brew – we’ve got the caffeine shakes just thinking about it). 

Best for: a lively yet comforting space, with lush greenery, sweet tunes, a cool crowd and some of Melbourne’s best breakfast dishes (keep reading to discover the stand out dish). 

Eat this: while we usually try our best to stay away from ‘Instagram breakfasts’, in this case, the infamous blueberry and ricotta hotcake tastes just as good as it looks. Crispy golden edges, a fluffy light centre, crunchy toasted seeds and grains, topped with a cloud of double cream. You must order this dish, which makes for the perfect for a shared sweet treat for the table.  

Perks: the enticing all-day cocktail menu is as good an excuse as any to swap out your latte for an espresso martini. 

  • Restaurants
  • Fitzroy

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: Hanging with Fitzroyalty 

Eat this: Korean Fried Chicken burger

Perks: A courtyard, vinyl and brekkie until 3pm.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Carlton

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: 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

  • Restaurants
  • Malvern

As sandwiches have been having a moment in Melbourne for a while now, technically Stan’s Deli’s 15 minutes of fame should have come and gone. But the fact that it hasn’t, is not only testament to the timelessness of the sandwich, but also to the bloody good way they get it done at Stan’s. 

While North-siders seem to be spoiled for choice with a sandwich joint popping up on every corner, Stan’s Deli brings the goods to the South with their New-York inspired, green-hued shop in Malvern. Sandwich specials change often but whatever you choose, make sure you get one of their signature salt ‘n’ vin hash browns on the side. We are thankful we live in a world where a fat sandwich is considered acceptable breakfast fare. 

Best for: unpretentious food, friendly service, a hangover cure or a quick catch up with mates.

Eat this: take your pick of sandwiches from the blackboard at the window, with a side of fries of course. 

Perks: the giant cookies and other baked goods from Georgie’s Grub (@georgiesgrub) make for the perfect post-sandwich treat. The recent weekend special, Sweet Toast Brownie, ingeniously incorporated leftover bread into brownies, reducing food waste in a delicious way.

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Take a quick trip to the Mediterranean without having to venture past the back streets of Richmond to Rowena Corner Store, for a distinctly different, and decidedly delightful breakfast experience. At Rowena Corner Store, they have been serving the local community for over 60 years. First established as a general store, Rowena Corner Store has continued to evolve over the decades, being owned by a number of families who added their own touch throughout the years, all while holding the Richmond community close to their heart. 

In a more than welcome break from smashed avo, the menu at Rowena Corner Store features tastes of Turkey with green cilbir eggs, Greek specialities like spanakopita, and a selection of BLTs (try the HELTA – haloumi, egg, lettuce, tomato and avo), sure to satisfy your wildest breakfast sandwich dreams.  

Best for: a trip down memory lane. Today, even after a recent fit-out, Rowena Corner Store maintains its nostalgic atmosphere, welcoming warmth, and continues its legacy as a beacon of community hospitality. 

Eat this: The Mediterranean Breakfast Plate. House made falafel, haloumi, tzaziki, Cypriot grain salad, eggs, olives and warm pita bread. 

Perks: getting to browse the beautiful selection of Mediterranean groceries while you wait for a table. 

  • Restaurants
  • Brunswick East

 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: Loading up on quality carbs

Eat this: The fruit toast with cultured butter

Perks: You can buy your week's worth of bread from the counter when you pay.

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  • Restaurants
  • Sri Lankan
  • Brunswick West
  • price 2 of 4

 

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: 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.

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne

 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: New York-style eatin’ 

Eat this: Chicken and waffles 

Perks: Sides worth ordering.

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  • Restaurants
  • Footscray
  • price 1 of 4

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 wild caught sardines with greens, ricotta, olive tapenade, poached egg, chilli and lemon. From the land, a veal katsu sanga with apple pepper chutney, cabbage slaw and pickled carrot. Not bad for what was previously a derelict car park.

Best for: Taking some of its cabinet sweets for the trip home 

Eat this: Wild-caught sardines with greens

Perks: Discovering the other wonders of Footscray, like the bustling food market and Vietnamese eats.

Pillar Of Salt
  • Restaurants
  • Richmond

Because sometimes you just need a reliable and convenient cafe to satisfy your basic brunch needs and fill your hungry tum. Pillar of Salt has been a longstanding member of the Melbourne breakfast scene for many years now, and for good reason. The coffee is good, the food is good, and the service is good. 

While it may not be the newest kid on the block anymore, the chefs keep coming up with new ways to make avo on toast interesting, while serving old faithful Melbourne brunch staples like the Californian Superfood Salad and chilli scrambled eggs. It’s as good a place to “work from home” over several bottomless batch brews, as it is to bring the kids on the weekend with a cute kids menu including pancakes and ‘chippies’.  

Best for: when the weather is nice, the courtyard is the perfect place to bring your pooch along for dog-friendly breakfast. 

Eat this: as the menu seems to change often, go for whatever inventive riff on benedict or bircher that’s on offer. 

Perks: if you have already had one too many lattes for the morning, Pillar of Salt offers an inventive selection of drinks to try, such as the golden turmeric or matcha lattes, a yuzu lemonade slushie, the Elvis Smoothie or a Bloody Mary (because why not). 

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