There are some cafés that make you feel at home from the moment you arrive, be it the welcoming staff or friendly chatter of the patrons. North Carlton Canteen, the latest addition to Lygon Street, is one such place.

Located on the border of Carlton North and Brunswick East and neighboured only by a scattering of florists and milk bars, NCC is bringing some much-needed café cheer to an otherwise unmanned Melbourne strip.

Whatever your vantage point – inside or out, lounging on the banquette or perched at the window overlooking the street – the experience has a similar cadence: an enjoyable repast by way of decent coffee and an appealing menu. Pumpkin and fetta fritters served with tahini, yoghurt, poached free-range eggs and rocket seem to be one of the more popular breakfast options. Other tempting dishes include omelette with asparagus, baby peas and sheep’s cheese, or for the sweet tooth, banana bread pancakes with fresh strawberries, whipped yoghurt and pistachio praline. The house toastie, with its basic but oh-so-effective premise of ham, tomato, Swiss cheese and Dijon crème fraiche, is the perfect fix for those in need of a Sunday morning pick-me-up.

Lunch offerings are just as enticing. The Wagyu burger on brioche bun or house-made pappardelle with creamy artichoke offer a substantial feed, while an assortment of paninis provide slightly more daytime-friendly fare.

But it’s NCC’s takeaway picnic boxes that give the place its edge. With prices starting at $30 – which will get you two paninis, two sweet treats and two bottled drinks – these portable spreads allow diners the chance to enjoy the café’s pleasures, even from afar.

North Carlton Canteen
1008 Lygon Street, Carlton North
(03) 9380 8063

Tues to Fri 6.30am–4pm
Sat & Sun 8am–4pm