• Tommy Cotton

My Favourite Cafes for Food

We take our coffee and brunch seriously in Melbourne. I guess I don't break the mould in that way, since I love me some coffee and mid morning feasts. I get out a lot, and enjoy writing at cafes in the city, and I figured that over the past few years I've accrued a decent list of spots for coffee, food, and atmosphere. So, why not share them with you? Here are my five favourite cafes in Melbourne CBD.

1. Grain Store, Flinders Lane.

It's difficult to beat this place for food. The french inspired brunches change seasonally and never disappoint. It, of course, serves the Aussie speciality smashed avo, but I tend to go for their seasonal meat dishes, whatever chips they're serving, or some sort of benedict (last time I went it was a pork belly variation ... Amazing!)

If you head there in the arvo, do yourself a favour and grab the baked-to-order cookies and milk. Regret is impossible.

2. Captains of Industry, Somerset Place

Captains is cool. One of the more hipster places about town, with absolutely no snobbery. Service is always friendly and chilled. It's housed upstairs in an old building, and a bit hidden from passers-by; you'll have to venture down Somerset Place, off Little Bourke Street, and then up a set of stairs to find it. It's well worth it, though, for the simple but great breakfasts and toasties they do. There are old antique machines of all sorts sitting about the place. It also houses a barber and a craftsman who makes wallets, shoes, and other leather goods.

On the food front, I'd recommend the Knuckle Sandwich, or the three-cheese toastie.

Grab yourself a seat at the windows and look out over Elizabeth Street, but just don't take all the seats, as this is one of my favourite places to write ... haha

3. Higher Ground, Little Bourke Street

The atmosphere here is amazing, and perhaps the best out of any cafe I've ever been to. The high ceilings and airy light of the building that was once a power station for the city are a must if visiting the city.

The food is perhaps the only that is on par with the atmosphere. The home made lamb sausage is a personal favourite. It is a higher-end brunch experience, but won't break the bank by any stretch.

Tip: the wait on weekends will be long, so get there early, or have a snack before you go. You can also order take away coffee while you wait from the outside area.

Higher Ground is also open for dinner Thursday - Saturday, and they continue their coffee service, of course.

4. Hardware Society, Katherine Place

This is one of, if not the most, popular cafes in the city. It's main shop used to be up on Hardware Lane but they recently moved to Katherine Place on the west side of the city. It was a good move, as the new space is bigger and nicer. The food is the same exceptional experience.

I'd recommend the lobster benedict and homemade gluten-free brownie ... but really anything is delicious.

They are open late on Fridays, too, which is always a bonus

5. Brick Lane, Guildford Lane

This one gets in simply for its brilliant approach to Melbourne staples. It's in a quaint little laneway on the northside of the city (where there are another two great cafes, the Cat Cafe, which is as it sounds, and Krimper, which just missed the cut). There are pot plants throughout the laneway, with bluestone underfoot.

The atmosphere is clean, but it's the food that gets this place in. The smashed avo is close to my favourite, the benedict superlative, and the fritters just plain delicious.

The bread is one of the standouts in almost all dishes, and their rolls are always fresh and scrumptious.

And there you have it, my top five cafes to eat at in the city. It was difficult narrowing it down to five, so here are some honourable mentions: Operator 25, Krimper, Manchester Press, and Hash. They should be enough to keep you busy for a while ... and that's just in the CBD ...

Stay tuned for my favourite cafes for just coffee.

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