Alphington may be known for its proximity to bushlands, parks, and river trails, but it’s also an emerging culinary enclave that punches above its weight when it comes to cafe culture, drawing talent from inner-city stalwarts (such as Rockpool) seeking to make their mark ahead of the curve.

The clearest sign yet of the suburb’s sterling status is news that an upcoming housing development will be right next door to a recently announced dining precinct curated by Scott Pickett, the man behind South Yarra fine diner Matilda, Northcote’s acclaimed Estelle, and Lupo in Collingwood.

Here are five of our favourite food destinations in Alphington and Fairfield, each with their own distinct personality.

Hoppa and Joe
Situated on the ground floor of a commanding corner building along busy Heidelberg Road in Fairfield, Hoppa and Joe is popular with weekday commuters looking for a quick breakfast and coffee, and those seeking a lazy weekend brunch spot. Open from 7am to 3pm daily, it’s a neighbourhood cafe done right, exuding intimacy with just 35 seats (including some outdoor seating).

Expect robust morning fare with Instagram-worthy flourishes, such as the recent weekend special chili scrambled eggs, complete with twice-cooked pork belly, mixed Asian mushrooms, spicy chilli jam and eye-catching pickled lotus root. Lunch is fair game too, anchored by a slate of tradie-pleasing burgers.

457 Heidelberg Road, Fairfield

Benjamin’s Kitchen
Don’t mistake the cloud-dappled white decor of Benjamin’s Kitchen for a literal reflection of the menu, which absolutely bursts with colour. As with sibling eatery Taxi Boat – also owned by namesake founder Benjamin Ruan – this quaint gem boasts a spritely pan-Asian menu with a focus on small, shareable plates. Highlights include soft-shell-crab buns, garlic-lamb ribs, Thai fishcakes and Malaysian satay chicken. Plus it’s open for lunch and dinner (closed only on Mondays), so you’ve got twice as much opportunity to, as their slogan suggests, “come and dine among the clouds”.

758 Heidelberg Road, Alphington

Alphington Farmers Market
Springing up every Sunday from 9am to 1pm at the Melbourne Innovation Centre, this much-loved market was established following the relocation of the nearby Fairfield Farmer’s Market. Expect the same high-quality produce, whether you’re after raw honey, organic dairy or other local goodies. But don’t fill up on samples at the various stalls, because you can grab a tasty lunch of Turkish street food, or a sweet snack from Holy Crumpets. Just bring along a gold coin donation for entry and remember your reusable bags, because the market is (thankfully) free of single-use plastics.

2 Wingrove Street, Alphington

CH James
Just a couple minutes’ walk from Fairfield Station, CH James is named after the 19th-century philanthropist who brought the first horse-drawn tram to Australia. The cafe offers a menu of elevated classics from chef Daniel Dannock. Breakfast here is a no-brainer – thanks in part to the heroic eggs Benedict with smoked hock, cucumber kimchi and choron hollandaise – but keep in mind that lunch starts at 11am and offers plenty of healthy, seasonally inspired vegetarian options, as well as burgers, beer and great wine. But why choose one? Split the difference at brunch over a Bloody Mary.

86 Station Street, Fairfield

Fifteen Pounds
Past Fairfield’s train station lies this rustic, organic haven, replete with communal wooden tables and natural light. The breakfast menu includes a diverse range of options: there’s the pulled pork shoulder, a pumpkin smash, and generous takes on pancakes, baked eggs and waffles. Even the vegan-friendly beetroot-and-chia porridge feels indulgent, topped with strawberry gel, pistachio granola, strawberries and vegan lemon curd. The short but tempting lunch menu features meatballs, ocean trout and a stacked burger (the beef patty can be swapped out for tofu). As for the coffee, Campos’s ethical, fair-trade beans are a major drawcard – you might consider taking a different train just to stop there.

21–23 Railway Place, Fairfield

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Caydon Property.