The eccentric south-eastern suburbs of Balaclava and Ripponlea have made a name for themselves with some of the most unique (and sometimes peculiar) cafes in Melbourne. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re after a Bloody Mary with breakfast, are in need of vegetarian options, or just want a quiet coffee to enjoy your Sunday morning.
The spacious industrial interior of Glass Merchants fits perfectly in Balaclava. Hidden just off Carlisle Street, Glass Merchants is easy to miss but once you’re in, the all day brekky menu and coffee will keep you coming back. From the classics of smashed avo to their own twist on an egg and bacon roll, the menu here is to die for and reasonably priced with a meal and coffee setting you back around $20. It’s the garage style interior design that really sets Glass Merchants apart, making this cafe perfect for a relaxed coffee or group breakfast.
Lot 3 is marketed for the commuter crowd. Located at Ripponlea station, its American style menu will keep you intrigued; think bagels, mac and cheese, and simple but delicious sandwiches. Open from 11am till late, the cafe is something completely different brought to you by the former owners of Ripponlea’s famous three-hat restaurant, Attica. This venture is based entirely on simplicity and whilst it isn’t licensed due to the building being council owned, the menu and shakes on offer are enough to get anyone through the day.
Spout is a classic Ripponlea hub for brunch at the weekends. Known for its Shakshuka and Middle Eastern twist on Melbourne classics, Spout’s rustic and pared back interior lends a chilled atmosphere. The Allpress beans have customers coming back for the caffeine alone, while the menu has a little something for everyone, from challah French toast to their own take on eggs Benedict with pastrami.
A Ripponlea classic, Hawk and Hunter offers a delicious menu which caters to everyone, from vegetarians to little kids and meat lovers alike. The mashed avo is a crowd pleaser with a little bit of a middle-eastern twist. The cafe aims for a homely atmosphere, and the warm and inviting staff definitely make visitors feel that way. The children’s play area makes this cafe perfect for parents who want to enjoy a coffee whilst watching the little ones.
Ripponlea Food and Wine’s menu is the highlight of this quiet hidden gem just across from the station. The sweet potato rosti with smashed avo and maple cured bacon is a standout, although making a decision may take a while with so many divine takes on classic brunch options. The decor and staff add to the simple and relaxed atmosphere, perfect for a lazy Sunday enjoying breakfast while you people watch on the window sill benches.
Tucked away across from Balaclava station, Common Ground is perfect for a quiet coffee. The cafe doesn’t have a massive capacity so it’s not recommended for a big brunch, although the size adds to the charm and serene atmosphere. The simple menu is affordable and has some great stuff on offer. Common Ground is perfect for anyone who has study or work to get done while enjoying a great coffee and the lovely service on offer.
Las Chicas is an old favorite in Balaclava, with an amazing menu that ranges from the essentials to unique sweet treats like banana bread with cappuccino foam. This is a must visit for any brunch lover in Balaclava. Best for catch ups with friends rather than a quiet coffee, the atmosphere here is buzzing. With friendly service to match, Las Chicas has earned its reputation on Carlisle Street.
Hidden in an alleyway behind Carlisle Street, Monk embodies everything that a Melbourne cafe in Balaclava should be: it is quirky, unique, and has a warm, inviting atmosphere. The vegetarian menu is amazing and offers meals distinctive to Monk, setting this one well and truly apart from the crowd. You will probably have to wait for a table at weekends but it’s worth it for the quality food and coffee and the wonderful staff to look after you.
Miss Ruben’s has staked its claim as the best pastrami on the block. The breakfast menu does offer some other delicious treats, but you can’t do better than the brekky ruben for a real Miss Ruben’s experience. The staff are friendly and this café offers a menu unrivalled on Glen Eira Road.
More well known for $10 pizzas and half price cocktails Sunday and Tuesday nights, Treehouse is open for breakfast everyday with a menu that rivals their pizza selection. This joint venture by Greg and Georgia Poliwodzinski is a friendly and intimate cafe-bar with sophisticated interior decor and a brilliant menu. Treehouse is more than just great in the evening, it has also proved itself as one of Balaclava’s hotspots in the morning.