21 cafés in Melbourne’s CBD area that are totally next level and you should include in your itinerary

You know what’s one city that Starbucks can’t survive in? Melbourne.

This is because the city is known for coffee so good, locals won’t go to Starbucks – which is really how you know they’ve got their bar set really high.

What this means is that you could just as easily take a stroll along Melbourne’s CBD area and pick any café and it’s likely to be pretty decent. But we should set our bar high too, by cherry-picking and choose the best of the best, because Melbourne’s got so much to offer!

Check out these 21 cafés in Melbourne’s CBD that you need to put on your bucket list.

1. Addict Food and Coffee

Source: broadsheet.com

Rustic looking, minimalist-chic with pops of colour with the hanging pots of plants from above, Addict Food and Coffee isn’t a place that is only known for its clean, healthy, yet tasty grub, but also for its clean, photogenic interior.

Specialising in healthy, modern food with a twist – it doesn’t matter what dietary restrictions you may have – this place covers it all from vegan, vegetarian, and even gluten-free food.

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Try out their interesting breakfast eats like their Chia Pudding, which comprises of smooth, but mild coconut cream, refreshing mango puree, huge chunks of peach, and crispy puffed buckwheat, the crunchy icing on the proverbial cake.

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Want something more substantial? Try their wholemeal buttermilk pancakes with poached rhubarb, blueberries, rhubarb syrup, whipped mascarpone and compressed rhubarb, which is just as good as it looks and sounds!

Another thing you definitely shouldn’t miss? Their coffee. Strong, robust and busting with flavour, we hate to say this, but you probably wouldn’t be able to go back to your regular cuppa Starbucks coffee after this.

Opening hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 4pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 240 Johnston St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia


2. Son In Law

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This is where you can expect the craziest, most Insta-worthy foods to be served onto your table.

Menu highlights would include their Thai Milk Tea with Fairy Floss (AUD14) of whichever of your favourite cartoon characters from Pikachu, to Doraemon, to even everyone’s favourite, a unicorn.

Other highlights would be their Chocolate Magic Ball with Crepe Cake (AUD16). Impeccably tempered chocolate in the shapes of Despicable Me minions, Totoro, or even Winnie The Pooh, each cake is layered with strawberries, crushed Oreos, vanilla ice cream, and served with your choice of three flavours – milk tea, coconut pandan, and Nutella (and deflate the cute lil’ things with your own hands after).

Want something more savoury before you start on your desserts? Give their zingy, Spicy Deep Fried Chicken Ribs (AUD14) a whirl.

Opening hours: 5.30pm – 10.30pm (Mon – Fri), 12pm – 4pm, 5.30pm – 10.30pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 56 Johnston St, Collingwood VIC 3066, Australia


3. Breakfast Thieves

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Serving up modern Aussie food with an Asian twist, despite their rather limited menu, it is full of innovative flavour combinations and dish titles, we guarantee you won’t even feel stumped on what to order.

Try out The Breakfast Chain, which consists of yoghurt with granola, soft-boiled eggs, as well as an almond crumble for a hearty, fulfilling, and of course, an aesthetically pleasing breakfast meal.

Other must-tries would include Uncle Foo’s Fiery Crab Burger which should appeal to all the crab lovers in us, as well as their coffee, which has almost anything you can think of from sweet and creamy espressos, to even floral coffees.

Opening hours: 7.30am – 4.30pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 4pm (Sat – Sun), last orders at 3pm

Address: 1/420 Gore St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia


4. Auction Rooms

A rustic-chic café with a sunny courtyard, sip on a cuppa coffee of the day and munch on their inventive breakfast foods.

Stand-outs would be their Crème Brulee French Toast with Crispy Pancetta, their signature Pressed Pork Shoulder with slow poached egg and bone marrow, and the popular Breakfast Board of Grilled Chorizo with croquette, soft boiled egg, served with iced coffee.

Want something sweet on the side? Try their Brioche French Toast with Milo anglaise, snickerdoodle crumb, strawberries, coffee mascarpone, topped off with a generous amount of chocolate shards.

Opening hours: 7am – 5pm (Mon – Fri), 7.30am – 5pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 103-107 Errol St, North Melbourne VIC 3051, Australia


5. Brother Baba Budan

Named by a food reviewer as “one of the best places for coffee”, this humble little store on Little Bourke Street is an absolute crowd puller.

And you know what people say – do as the locals do. Or in this case, queue where the queues are long.

Offering the usual range of Espresso, Shorty, Long Black (AUD4) and cold brews of Iced Latte (AUD4.30), Affogato (AUD6), and Iced Mocha (AUD6.50), and even floral coffees, like their Gathaithi, what people love about the coffees here is its strong, robust flavours, but also how balanced it is.

Bitter but not in a sharp, unpleasant manner, it is unintimidating to even people who don’t regularly drink coffee.

Opening hours: 7am – 5pm (Mon – Sat), 8am – 5pm (Sun)

Address: 359 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia


6. Chez Dré + Bibelot

A French patisserie with a classic Aussie twist, expect all things sweet and indulgent under one room – think artisanal desserts, gelataria, a coffee bar, a chocolate shop, a high tea salon and a book shop all in one, and savoury breakfast foods right next door.

Desserts, books, and a French patisserie with all-day savoury breakfast foods? Consider us sold.

For breakfast foods, like freshly baked brioche buns, head on over to Chez Dre, and when you’re done, and ready for dessert, head on over to Bibelot for some premium AF dark cacao gelato.

Opening hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 4pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 285-287 Coventry St, South Melbourne VIC 3205, Australia


7. Cumulus Inc.

Opened all the way till 11pm unlike most Melbourne cafés, Cumulus Inc.’s got you covered all through the day, be it hearty breakfasts, power lunches, or late-night dates.

Dig into a refreshing but light plate of Tuna Tartare, or Asparagus, macadamia, soft egg & sorrel, or go all the way with an entire lamb shoulder.

Flanked with an open-air kitchen, you’ll never be bored waiting for your food. Or to fill up the awkward silence during a date.

Opening hours: 7am – 11pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 11pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 45 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia


8. Darling Café

Love love love your acai bowls? Get a dose of healthy, delish goodness here at Darling Café at AUD16.50.

Beautifully and artfully presented, and featuring bananas, apples, chia seeds, caramelised bukinis, coconut flakes, and fresh berries that are fresh and full of flavours, start your day right with their Organic Acai Bowl.

Other stand-outs would include their Hazelnut Fudge Doughnut-Waffles with Deconstructed Nougat, Pressed Chestnut & Crème Fraiche, Purple Honey & Mascarpone, a twist on the Aussie classic, the nougat, and its Sticky Date Pancakes with Butterscotch Ice-Cream, Seasonal Fruits, Palm Sugar Caramel, & Malted Crumble, AUD17 each.

Are you drooling yet? Because we sure are.

P.S. How could you say no to pretty, vegan, gluten-free drinks like this?

Opening hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon – Sun)

Address: 2 Darling St, South Yarra VIC 3141, Australia


9. Dead Man Espresso

A place that serves a mean cup of espresso that’ll be certain to have you coming back for more, Dead Man Espresso also serves up food to go along with their excellent coffee. Some even have alcohol in them, if you need that extra oomph in the morning.

Thick, creamy espresso mixed with tonic and orange? Sign us up!

With an ever-changing menu that changes according to the seasons, you’ll be guaranteed to see a different selection of food even if you make a repeat visit to Dead Man Espresso.

Look out for exotic eats like their Zeally Bay organic toast with cevre, grapefruit, toasted almonds and radish salad, and their Beef Cheek Salad which is… exactly what it says it is.

Opening hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon – Sun)

Address: 35 Market St, South Melbourne VIC 3205, Australia


10. Grub Fitzroy (Grub Food Van)

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The complete polar-opposite of the industrial, minimalist-chic clean cafés that line the streets of Melbourne, Grub Food Van serves up seasonal, eclectic food items in a ramshackle but charming little greenhouse.

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Look forward to eclectic meals like Smoked Eel and Jamon Croquettes – salty, cheesy, saffron-y with the hint of smokiness all through the eel meat, you’ll want to be ordering seconds of this.

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Other stand-outs would be their Grub Ramen (AUD18) with pork belly, soy egg, steamed greens, noodles, mixed with a healthy dose of chili oil that’ll set your taste buds with a good amount of heat.

Bringing the kids along with you? If your kids get bored waiting for the adults to drink the coffee or beer, Grub Fitzroy even has a table tennis table to play a game of ping-pong.

Opening hours: 9am – 6pm (Tues – Wed), 9am – 10pm (Thurs – Fri), 8am – 10pm (Sat), 8am – 6pm (Sun), closed on Mon

Address: 87-89 Moor St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia


11. Top Paddock

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A hipster café with an inventive brekkie menu, start your day right with their specialty Blueberry and Ricotta Hotcake (AUD21) with berries, maple syrup, seeds, and cream that is just as tasty as it is pretty.

(And yes, this is the place that started the Ricotta Hotcake trend in Melbourne!)

Dense, heavy, and definitely much too big for just one person, even sharing this with your mates would probably have you leaving with a satisfied tummy.

Not a cheese fan? Try out their other pretty desserts like their Acai Bowl and Mango Coyo for more beautifully decorated, indulgent sweetness.

Opening hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 4pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 658 Church St, Richmond VIC 3121, Australia


12. Hardware Societe

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Despite the many world-class cafés that line the streets of Melbourne, Hardware Societe is a place with long, long queues and never short of eager customers – tourists and locals alike.

Must-tries would be its Baked Eggs in either a vegetarian roasted pumpkin or chorizo sausage version (for meat lovers!), the ingredients blend in perfect harmony, with the contrast of soft potatoes and toasted almonds to truly make the dish sing. Albeit rather small for its price at AUD19, apparently this dish is what people come back for, which has to mean a lot.

Source: danielfooddiary.com

Another must-try would be the Fried Brioche. Described by a food reviewer to be “fluffy like a soft pillow” and topped off with passionfruit crud, raspberry gel, lavender syrup, and fresh raspberries for a tangy-fruitiness that is oh-so-satisfying.

Source: danielfooddiary.com

Miss a tiny slice of home while in Melbourne? Give their Pork Belly and Fried Eggs a try. Soft, succulent pork and gloriously crunchy crackling on top that certainly gets our 100% approval, this is a dish you cannot miss if you love your pork.

Opening hours: 7.30am – 3pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 3pm (Sat – Sun), last order 2.30pm

Address: 120 Hardware Street Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia


13. Gold Drops Coffee & Tea

Source: broadsheet.com

Do you consider yourself to be the ultimate coffee fan? For a totally unique experience, you can try coffee in its al-naturale form where the fruit of the coffee is left to dry in the sun with the fruit of the cherry still on the bean, allowing for a rich, sweet, and intensely fruity flavour you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

Source: broadsheet.com

Just following your coffee addict friend but not a fan of coffee? GIve their specialty-brewed teas and Argentinian pastries a try – we guarantee you won’t regret it!

Opening hours: 7.30am – 4.30pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 2.30pm (Sat), closed on Sun.

Address: 183 Little Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia


14. Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters

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Having made quite a name on Instagram over their sky-high fairy floss hot chocolate (AUD7) served in a beaker, douse your hot chocolate onto the fairy floss, and watch as it melts away – perfect for the ‘gram! It also has a whopping 85% of Mork Chocolate, so get this if you really, really love your chocolates.

Source: danielfooddiary.com

Must-tries would be their Bircher Muesli for a gluten-free, healthy option. Featuring a medley of dried fruit, paleo seeds, cranberries, almond milk, and coconut yoghurt (AUD16.50), Build Your Own Eggs served on sourdough or multigrain (AUD10.50), and their Pulled Pork Benedict (AUD21.20), the perfect brunch meal that combines the best of breakfast and lunch.

Opening hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 4pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 113 Hardware Street, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia


15. Higher Ground Melbourne

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Situated within a heritage-listed former power station and characterised by exposed brick walls, sky-high ceilings, minimalistic décor, and a splash of colour from the potted greenery, this is probably one of the coolest cafés you’ll find in Melbourne.

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Stand-out food items to order would be their Roasted Mushrooms and Polenta (AUD15.50). Soft, almost porridge-like, with runny cheesy flavours and chewy mushrooms, the contrasts of the dish is heightened by a generous scatter of hazelnut and sourdough for a lovely nutty crunch.

Source: goodfood.com

Another must-try would be their Cauliflower Scramble (AUD21). With nicely just-cooked eggs on top of a chewy house-made flatbread and sprinkled with cumin-spiced roasted cauliflower, you’ll forget that this is even a vegetarian dish.

For desserts, look out for their Olive Oil Cake (AUD15) with juicy, tart blood oranges, and sorrel ice cream for a true, out-of-this-world experience.

Opening hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon – Wed), 7am – 11pm (Thurs – Fri), 8am – 11pm (SatA), 8am – 4pm (Sun)

Address: 650 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia


16. The Kettle Black

Source: danielfooddiary.com

A breakfast café which, while not the original maker of the multiple Ricotta Pancakes that has spawned in so many Melbourne cafés, has been rumoured to be the best ricotta hotcake amongst cafés worldwide.

It boasted the right amount of fluffiness and airiness and moisture especially since the bottom is drenched with the right amount of maple syrup.

Featuring ricotta, blueberries, pure maple, double cream, and seeds at AUD18, it is fluffy, has the perfect balance of airiness and moisture, and generously soaked with the right amount of maple syrup (without being soggy).

With the seeds and nuts adding an additional dimension to the moist, soft hotcakes and blueberries infused throughout, sweet tooths will be finding themselves in their own Ricotta Hotcake heaven.

Source: danielfooddiary.com

Another recommended food item would be their Chili Scrambled Eggs with Cured Flinders Island Wallaby, Feta & Leaves (AUD18), which was creamy, and just the right amount of spice infused in it.

Opening hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 4pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 50 Albert Road, South Melbourne VIC 3205, Australia


17. Industry Beans

Self-identify as a coffee snob? You’ll love this place. Doing basic coffees like your flat whites and blacks, and even aeropresses – they’ve got everything under the sun covered.

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But that’s not all – complete your experience with their Coffee Rubbed Wagyu Burger (AUD23) or Coffee Braised Short Rib (AUD24) for that full-bodied coffee experience.

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Have you seen anything quite this delicate looking and wayyyy too pretty to eat? We have, but this really takes the cake.

A warmed coconut chocolate cake with cherry ganache and rum infused butterscotch, this has the perfect blend of fruitiness, chocolatiness, and a strong punch of alcohol to pull the dish together, perfect for winter. Having desserts that they rotate in between the seasons, each dessert is perfectly curated to suit the season.

Wanna be impressed? Check out their spring-themed desserts for a feast for the eyes.

Opening hours: 7am – 4pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 4pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 345 Little Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia


18. Café Lafayette

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An unusual café that overlooks to the gorgeous view of the oceanside, this is the perfect café to go to in the summer.

Must-tries would be their Matcha Hot Cakes (AUD15.50), which is a blend of berry compote, honey comb, vanilla mascarpone, red bean crème, and crushed pistachios – which add a crunchy, earthy dimension to the soft, fluffy matcha pancakes. Perfect for any matcha-lovers!

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Apart from some good ol’ coffee, other must-tries would most definitely be their Freakshakes (AUD7.50), which is pretty self-explanatory in and of itself. You know a milkshake’s pretty darn crazy when it’s layered with donuts, a generous amount of whipped cream, and has marshmallow sticks stuck to the side.

Opening hours: 7:30am – 3:30pm (Mon – Fri), 8am – 4pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 55 Beach St, Port Melbourne VIC 3207, Australia


19. 8bit

Famous for its scrumptious, yet deliciously sinful burgers, hotdogs, fries, and shakes, and everything your parents warned you not to indulge in as a kid, prepare for some greasy indulgence at 8bit.

Give their signature hotdogs a try – their Smoked Frank, a blend of grilled onions, pickle relish, ketchup, mustard, and spring onions, if you want to stay classic, and their Fatal Fury hotdog, which features a mix of chili and cheese kransky, cheese sauce, chilli beef, jalapenos, and spring onions for the ultimate chili-cheesy kick.

Finish off your meal with one of their gigantic shakes and you’re set.

Opening hours: 11am – 11pm (Mon – Sun)

Address: 231 Swanston St, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia


20. Brown Bagels

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Specialising in all things bagel-related and described by happy reviewers on Yelp as “one of the best bagels in Melbourne”, the bagels are described to be fresh-tasting, and toasty and crunchy on the outside, but fluffy and soft on the inside with a good bite and chew, which really, is more than what we already get from in Singapore, with a host of, often, hard as a rock, un-chewable bagels. And not to forget mentioning cold.

With Korean-inspired filling like pork bulgogi, or regular Western filling like chicken breast, ham, spicy chicken, and many others, the fillings may sound ordinary, but are oh-so-satisfying.

Opening hours: 7.30am – 4pm (Mon – Fri), closed on weekends

Address: 330 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia


21. Manchester Press

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Probably the only café on our list that garners queues in the CBD even on weekends, Manchester Press is another place that is all about the humble bagel.

With bagels described as being ‘out-of-this-world’ by a food reviewer, this is how you know the bagels here are next level.

With a huge variety of bagels to pick from, one of their stand-outs would have to be their Blueberry Cheesecake Rainbow Bagel. A blend of sweet vanilla cream cheese with blueberries and lemon – it is the perfect combination of creaminess, a hint of sweetness from the blueberries, and a slight touch of tartness from the lemons.

Sold out? Try this alternative savoury rainbow bagel.

Not keen on rainbow-coloured bagels? Try out their classic Mixed Berry Bagel, which has blueberries infused throughout.

Opening hours: 7am – 5pm (Mon – Fri), 9am – 5pm (Sat – Sun)

Address: 8 Rankins Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia