Possibly one of, if not the hardest cafe to find in Melbourne, The Vertue of the Coffee Drink truly is a hidden gem. Tucked away in a lane behind a petrol station, the timber doors open to reveal a coffee bar that soon opens up into a sun-drenched dining area. The menu is refreshing; presenting a series of all-day breakfast dishes that reads like a mid- to high-end restaurant. You’ll find tea smoked salmon paired with cauliflower purée, polenta with eggs, green apple, and truffle oil. There’s also French toast spiced fruit loaf with poached pear, vanilla gelato, and amaretti crumble. The name may be a mouthful, but with food this good, you wouldn’t mind anyway.
Vertue of the Coffee Drink, 8 Raffa Place, Carlton, Australia, +61 380 606 987
If you’re yearning for a change from the usual breakfast and brunch options, Middle Fish just might be your best bet. Opened by Thai expat, Siriporn ‘Pla’ Liamthong, the place serves authentic Thai dishes amid an industrial-chic setting. The food menu is 10 pages long, with vegetarians and vegans being catered for as well. Take your pick from Thai-style omelets, rice soups, burgers, salads, curries, and rice and noodle dishes that pack a flavorful and fiery punch. Whether or not your stomach feels the same way about spice as your taste buds do, well, that’s another story altogether.
Middle Fish, 122-128 Berkeley St, Carlton, Australia, +61 393 481 704
Spoiler alert: expect the unexpected at NORA. While the bright and airy space is charming, the food is a true work of art. The menu is kept short and simple. It lists a handful of creative South-East-Asian-influenced breakfast dishes alongside their signature charcoal tarts and excellent coffee. The dishes may sound odd; ‘Churning of the Sea of Milk’, ‘Dear Mitchell,’ or ‘Flour Water Salt, anyone’ are among them. Don’t let their names fool you though; they taste much better than they sound.
Nora, 156 Elgin St, Carlton, Australia, +61 390 418 644
Well-known for its specialty coffee, the brews offered at Campos Coffee will please even the fussiest of coffee enthusiasts. Lest you think coffee is the only thing on the menu, their food offerings look and sound appetizing too. The burgers are crowd-pleasers, as are the breakfast plate, Reuben sandwich, and paella. Wash down your meal with a hot cuppa and you’re all set for the day.
Campos Coffee, 144 Elgin St, Carlton, Australia, +61 393 477 445