Brunch in Melbourne is a competitive sport. Which café or restaurant in Melbourne’s CBD will win gold with the most unique and innovative breakfast dish?
Melbourne locals love to brunch. Each suburb has its favourites, such as The Kettle Black in South Melbourne and Darling Cafe in South Yarra. But when you head into the CBD, it’s hard to choose from the overwhelming selection of eateries. Here’s 10 fantastic breakfast and brunch options in Melbourne’s CBD.
Higher Ground describes itself as “not quite a café, not quite a restaurant”. Waiting to dine at this eatery is the norm, but the imaginative dishes on Executive Chef Nate Wilkins’ menu are worth the wait. One such dish includes avocado seed cracker with macadamia feta, mojo verde, poached eggs, and toasted and fresh seaweed. Higher Ground is also known for its industrial chic interior, with high ceilings, varied seating arrangements and exposed brick walls. Enjoy your meal with a cup of coffee from Melbourne’s Square One Coffee Roasters.
Located on Flinders Lane, Cumulus Inc. is one of the most popular restaurants in Melbourne’s CBD. Fortunately, it’s open from breakfast until dinner daily. Its breakfast menu includes both big and small dishes, like homemade crumpets with whipped ricotta and rooftop honey. Plus, from Monday to Friday you can tuck into the Cumulus Inc. Breakfast: a boiled egg with toast and spreads, yoghurt, organic orange juice and either coffee or tea. Cumulus Inc. bakes made-to-order madeleines, which take 15 minutes and can be filled with either lemon curd or Nutella.
“Serving up mouth-watering artisan breads, handcrafted pastries and their very own ‘First Love Coffee’ brand, Rustica is the destination for every food-loving Melbournian.” Rustica has locations in Fitzroy, Hawthorn, and in the CBD at both Melbourne Central and Rialto Towers. Try and choose between the breakfast menu — designed by Head Chef Tristan White — and the pastry cabinet filled with sweet and savoury options. Rustica’s breakfast board is one dish you must try, as it features house-made granola, sweet labne, salmon croquette, crushed avocado and poached egg on sourdough; and you can add cold press juice for an extra $1.50. Don’t leave without a loaf of freshly baked bread to enjoy later.
Located in a heritage-listed former telephone exchange building, Operator25 is a bright space with an all-day brunch menu that has global influences, thanks to the diverse kitchen team. There’s the Ube Waffle, which includes purple sweet potato waffles with white chocolate sauce, poached pears, jack fruits, coconut and black sesame ice cream. Other options include the Filipino BBQ pulled pork benedict and Singapore-inspired kaya French toast. On the drinks menu, sample coffee from Code Black, the kaya matcha latte and the earl grey white chocolate.
Favoured by both visitors and city workers alike, Hardware Société is another brunch spot in the CBD that often has a line out the door. The cosy café on Hardware Lane has a French-inspired breakfast menu. Popular dishes include the baked eggs, pork belly and fried eggs, and fried brioche with meringue, passionfruit curd and chocolate Chantilly. However, the favourite is undoubtedly the lobster eggs benedict on a charcoal bun with citrus hollandaise – a combination that’s hard to resist. Hardware Société also has a cabinet filled with fresh pastries.
Grain Store is a cosy café with innovative breakfast and weekend brunch menus. Led by Chef Ingo Meissner, all produce used at Grain Store is organic and all dishes are free of additives. Tasty breakfast options include pumpkin rice pudding, lime coconut ricotta pancakes, and sugar-cured tiger prawn and chorizo omelette. After 11am, you can sample the chocolate chip cookies and milk for dessert, which are delightfully baked to order.
Bowery to Williamsburg is the definition of a hole-in-the-wall café, with limited seating inside. Located down Oliver Lane, its name pays homage to the Bowery subway station in New York City. You can expect to find several American favourites on the breakfast menu at this popular café. This includes bagels – from local supplier 5 and Dime – with an assortment of spreads. Plus Southern fried chicken and waffles, lox and potato latkes, and the Good Morning Cubano sandwich. To accompany your brunch, why not sample a Texas Bloody Mary or some homemade mint lemonade?
Open seven days a week, Manchester Press is known for one thing: bagels. The breakfast menu at this café on Rankins Lane features an assortment of closed and open bagel dishes. A highlight on the menu is the blueberry bagel with bacon, banana, mascarpone, maple syrup and popcorn. Manchester Press also serves a take on the ‘avo smash’ (an Aussie favourite), with an avocado and feta smash open bagel. During the cooler months, warm up at Manchester Press with a Koko Deluxe peanut butter or Nutella hot chocolate.
The European is home to three venues opposite Parliament House on Spring Street. It mixes the traditions of rural France, Italy and Spain – hence the name. Although The European is famous for its wine list, its breakfast and brunch menu is just as luxurious. There’s a continental option, or you can opt for the hot smoked salmon dish that comes with poached egg and caviar. Meanwhile, their Huevos Madrileños includes baked eggs with black pudding and chorizo.
1932 Cafe & Restaurant is located in the arcade of the Manchester Unity Building, one of Melbourne’s renowned architectural landmarks. The building’s 1930 Art Deco appearance inspired the cafe’s interior as well. 1932 Cafe & Restaurant offers a seasonal breakfast menu and a selection of cakes. Dishes include the Pumpkin & Eggs with poached eggs, pumpkin hummus and hazelnut dukkah. The Manchester Breakfast Board is only for the hungriest of patrons as it includes eggs, chorizo, bacon, vegetables and toast. You can also participate in a breakfast tour of the Manchester Unity Building.