We're in Melbourne for the 2013 World Barista Championship, our first visit to this splendid city. How do you write a guide for a city if you've never been? Easy. We polled a dozen Melbourne residents and frequent visitors with excellent taste on their very favorite places to eat, drink, and have a coffee in the city. Read more features like this one in our Melbourne Sprudge Guides hub!
Breakfast, colloquially shortened to “breaky” or “brekkie” across Oz, is a matter of great cultural importance in Melbourne. You thought Portland and New York City were cool brunch towns? Melbs is utterly besotted with and captivated by breakfast foods, and you'll see residents of this fair city getting down on brunch from Ascot Vale to Fitzroy, and everywhere in-between.
What's the difference between a brunch place and a breakfast place? We haven't the foggiest, because even Melbournians will tell you that the line between a good breaky and a proper brunch is blurry at best. (Brunch probably involves booze, and starts later, but we digress…) Some of Melbourne's best restaurants and cafes are breakfast food joints first and foremost, blurring the cultural divisions even further, but one thing is crystal clear: breaky is Melbourne's favorite meal of the day, and it'll be yours too while you're here.
Locals, did we leave out your favorite spot? It might be over in our Melbourne coffee guide…sorry mate, but again, the lines are blurry! Feel free to pass along more recommendations via @Sprudge on Twitter.
Duchess of Spotswood (87 Hudsons Rd, Spotswood) – The top answer for nearly all of our responders, home to what one breaky-minded American has unabashedly called “the greatest breakfast of my life, and one of my three favorite meals ever.” Dang, bro. The Duchess is located a little ways outside of the city, but by all accounts worth the trek. The menu is traditional English, with lots of smoked fish and pork, and you'll probably see lots of coffee people here throughout the week of MICE.
Pillar of Salt (541 Church St, Richmond) – Kissing cousins to Top Paddock, and located just down the block on Church Street in Richmond, the sublime little Pillar of Salt came first and is enormously well-regarded for their breakfast options. Richmond is full of attractive, charming young Melbournians, so that may be reason enough to go, but a delicious looking food menu and 5 Senses coffee certainly sweetens the pot. Pop in and pretend like you live just 'round the way.
The Premises (202 Bellair St, Kensington) – House blend espresso from Seven Seeds, regularly rotating filter coffees from Proud Mary and Market Lane, and a worldly influence on the menu, with items like their “Kensington Eggs” – two poached eggs, goat cheese tzatiki, and eggplant puree – or a classic pulled pork BBQ sandwich with pickled watermelon.
Bluebird Espresso (134 Johnston St, Collingwood) – Three different kinds of baked eggs, multiple takes on muesli, and a B vitamin supplement placed right at the top of their menu. Bluebird also has a full range of lunch sandwiches, all available for a very reasonable $12.5, with tasty sounding stuff like a lamb burger, classic BLT, or smoked Tasmanian salmon with capers and dill.
De Clieu (187 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy) – There's no official website for De Clieu, and that may be part and parcel with what Broadsheet Melbourne describes as the cafe's “elegant simplicity” and sense of space. De Clieu is tiny and cute, and their menu is a locavore's paradise of stuff like pork neck, avocado quinoa toast, and corn fritters, which keep popping up on menus we look at across the city. De Clieu serves coffee from Seven Seeds, and is one of the few places in Melbourne you're likely to find a French press.
Monk Bodhi Dharma (202 Carlisle St, Balaclava) – As a roastery, breaky joint, and dinner location, there seems to be a great deal of multi-tasking going on at Monk Bodhi Dharma, but by all accounts they pull it off – this spot came recommended by several of our poll respondents. But we're including Monk Bodhi because of the care and consideration they take for folks with dietary restrictions on their menu; all of their breaky offerings are vegetarian, with gluten free and vegan options to boot. Melbourne is very progressive when it comes to accommodating dietary restrictions, but this cafe goes a step further than most.
Hammer & Tong 412 (412 Brunswick St, Fitzroy) – Fitzroy is cooler than cool, and Hammer & Tong fits right in. Their brunch menu is playful and eclectic – see the “fried chicken wings w mango, grapefruit, candied chilies, crisp shallots, avocado & lime” – and they're open clear through til dinner. The interior here personifies the whole Melbourne industrial modern thing quite nicely, and it's a great place to sample coffee from Dukes, a roaster located in the nearby suburb of Windsor.
Two Birds, One Stone (12 Claremont St, South Yarra) – Another top gear 5 Senses breaky zone, with a lazer-focused coffee menu that offers just three options: “milk, black, or filter.” Lunch is served all day here, so if you need a steak sandwich with beetroot chutney, bacon, and horseradish at 9am, they won't judge. Their menu changes all the time, but a sample list posted online included fancy ham hock baked beans with goat curds and rocket on toast, which sounds just cursedly sublime, right?
Twenty & Six Espresso (03051/594 Queensberry St, North Melbourne) – They're serving up Proud Mary coffee here at this North Melbs breakfast spot, lauded by Broadsheet for having “some of Melbourne's most creative and impeccably presented breakfasts.” This would be like getting called New York's best cocktail bar, or Portland's best outdoor patio, or Wisconsin's best Bloody Mary – it's a high compliment. There are apparently lines on the weekend, which is what happens when you're doing something right. We'll be stopping in.
Cheerio (323 Lennox St, Richmond) – This cafe is a high-flying collaborating between two well-known Melbourne coffee types, Charlotte Devereux and Chris Handley, who've got experience at Seven Seeds and Wall Two 80 shared betwixt them. The breaky menu here is relatively small, but people freak out about the porridge, and the interior design looks really gorgeous. Plus it's in Richmond, which we're pretty sure is where we'd want to live if we ever lived here…which is starting to sound like a better and better idea…
Loop back 'round to our Melbourne info portal, why don't you? Good on ya!