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The best kid-friendly cafés in Melbourne

Fed up with tuts every time you park your pushchair at a latte dealer's? Here are cafés that are happy to see you...

Photograph: Graham Denholm

Having kids might mean that your sleep patterns change, but it doesn't mean that your tastebuds will. Thankfully, kids don't necessarily sound a death knell for brunch. Check out these family friendly cafés that don't compromise on coolness or quality just because pint-sized patrons are welcome.

Once you're done, why not get some fresh air and work off the hollandaise sauce at one of Melbourne's awesome outdoor playgrounds? While we're discussing such matters, it's probably worth your while checking out some of Melbourne's family-friendly pubs, in case you're in need of a beverage more than breakfast.

Family-friendly cafés in Melbourne


Go West Eatery and Tuckshop

Jason M Jones’s Rockbank café Go West is L-shaped and spacious – handy for steering prams. The kid-friendly menu (ranging from $5 for simple pastries to $22 for the parma) features the ‘cheesy toast’ with béchamel sauce and substantial lunches (macaroni cheese, lamb gnocchi) – this is comfort food poshed up and done well. There's an awesome adventure playground nearby as part of the Woodlea housing estate, but don't dash off before you pick up a housemade musk stick for the drive home. 

Kid’s comment: “Mum, can I eat those pink sticks for breakfast tomorrow?”

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Birdie Num Nums

An old favourite in the North. The shady courtyard is fabulous for eating in on those bright Melbourne mornings. There’s plenty of room for the kids to roam and on weekdays the courtyard is almost a mum-bub exclusive zone. The sand pit is perfect for playing in and is replete with lots of plastic toys for the kids to manhandle. The kids’ menu is reasonable and the ham and cheese toasty fingers are perfect for little hands. For the grown-ups, the food is tasty café fare.

Kid’s comment: “A café with an outdoor space means I get to move around. Yay!”

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Carlton North

Smith & Deli

Smith & Deli brings a less than authentic yet no less delicious vegan Jewish deli to a Fitzroy side street. The sister venue to Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse's Latin-inspired restaurant Smith & Daughters, there are plenty of kid-friendly sandwiches and toasties on offer to takeaway for lunches at the park. Smith & Deli’s take on the classic ham, cheese and tomato toastie that’s so buttery and cheesy, you’ll forget it’s vegan. Bagels, which can come with a schmear of flavoured cream cheese, are made fresh in house. 

Kid’s comment: “How do soy beans make milk?”

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The Farm Café

The name may conjure up visions of babies sprouting from giant pea pods, or of some unsavoury sweatshop affair, but we checked, and found that the Children’s Farm is 100 per cent science fiction and cruelty free. It never ceases to amaze us that a mere hopscotch throw away from Abbotsford Convent, you can be suddenly in the countryside facing off with a pig called Typhoon. The café doesn’t boast a huge menu, but what they do have gets a million brownie points for using produce they can reach from the kitchen door, and for actually being seasonal, rather than just hijacking this catch phrase du jour.

Kid’s comment: “That chicken tried to eat my sausage roll!”

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Cowderoys Dairy

OK, so the inside can be packed out but there’s a good reason for this. If you can get a seat the food is delicious: dippy eggs in individual serving trays are a winner for adults and kids alike. If you’re struggling to sit down or you’re only here for coffee and cake, then this venue is next door to a council play area. You can let the kids have some play without you standing next over them, while keeping an eye on them from the outdoor balcony. Or the hoop-swing fits an adult bottom. Just saying…

Kid’s comment: “Tons of things to play on keeps me interested, and there’s soft stuff to fall on to stop Mum panicking.”

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St Kilda West

Happy River Café

Perfect for a big family get together. The wide-open grass at the front, complete with blankets and rugs makes for a lovely, lazy feel. It provides the best bit of picnics (lying down, getting crumbs everywhere) with café service, meaning you don’t need to worry about washing up. Plus the yummy food and fresh cakes served by watchful staff mean you don’t need to leave the blanket!

Kid’s comment: “The best bit? The tree on the grass out front is climbable!”

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This is a very family-friendly restaurant and it means there’s somewhere to eat good Italian, with the kids, in the evening. Open from 5pm onwards you can get your brood into restaurant dining practice knowing that the other patrons won’t want to kill you, or your kids. The menu caters for all tastes and sizes of appetites. But the star turn is that the staff bring dough to the table so the kids can make their own pudding pizza. It miraculously returns to the table cooked and covered in chocolate for dessert.

Kid’s comment: “Where else do I get to play with my food and everyone’s happy about it?”

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South Kingsville

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