In the late afternoon the city is in a strange limbo. Cafes are closed, lunch specials are over, bars aren’t yet busy.

Ellie Dean is the manager at Australian fashion label Manning Cartell’s Emporium store. As someone who's used to navigating the late lunch break, we asked Dean for her tips on how to make the most of a workday pause right when most people are about to head home.

4.30pm – “I might run up to EARL and grab a sandwich, because they’re pretty easy to eat on the go,” Dean says, giving a nod to the Emporium branch of the lunch counter that redefined Melbourne’s sandwiches. “The lamb harissa sandwich is amazing. Plus everything they have there is made on-site. Every morning they’ll cook the lamb or the pork.”

4.40pm – Food aside, late afternoon often calls for a caffeine boost. At work, her go-to is Cafenatics, which serves Code Black’s chocolatey 3065 blend. “It’s quick, easy and the staff are super sweet,” she says. “Plus it has just been bought by Manchester Press, so it’s got bagels as well.”

Come winter, Chokolait is another favourite pick-me-up. The chocolatier’s signature hot chocolate comes in three styles, from the classic Italian style to Thick to Drink and even Thick to Eat, which you'll need a spoon for. “It’s amazing, proper hot chocolate with milk chocolate and just a little bit of milk,” she says. “I treat myself to one every week.”

4.45pm – It’s just a short walk to the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth streets, where Dean will often sit and watch the crowd pass on sunny days. With winter approaching, she’s just as happy to grab a window seat in Emporium and look down over the city.

4.52pm – Window shopping is another key tactic for keeping warm during winter afternoons. bassike on Rankins Lane is a favourite of Dean’s for its unisex pieces. “They’re good kind of ‘basics’,” she explains with a laugh. “A little more oversized and relaxed, but they still feel really amazing when you’re wearing them.”

Aesop in Emporium is another go-to, even just to sample the body balms, as well as the nearby Acne store and Commes des Garcons pop-up.

5pm – Dean’s final piece of advice? Even if your friend hasn’t arrived yet, by 5pm, it’s time to head to the bar.

EARL Canteen
Emporium Food Court
Level 3, 287 Lonsdale St
(03) 8609 8145

Emporium Food Court
Level 3, 287 Lonsdale St

Store 342, Level 3, Emporium
287 Londsdale St, Melbourne
(03) 9662 4235

1-3 Rankins Lane
(03) 8677 5702

Store 142, Level 1, Emporium
287 Londsdale St, Melbourne
(03) 9639 0457

Shop 22, The Strand
250 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne
(03) 9650 0201

Commes des Garcons Pocket
2 Rankins Lane
(03) 9670 1607

This article is presented by Emporium. If you often find yourself in the city with a few minutes to spare, head here to see everything on offer in the Emporium cafe court.