Best Cafes in Brunswick

Updated 1 week ago

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Brunswick has a rough-around-the-edges charm. On and around the mixed-business strips of Sydney Road and Lygon Street you'll find the perfect long black in a converted warehouse, a satisfying breakfast in a more cosy eatery or a snack from a family-run bakery. Here are our favourites.

  • This Canberra-based coffee roaster has made a real name for itself on the east coast. Visit this outpost and you’ll understand why. At any time, there are at least 20 outstanding coffees listed on its “freezer menu”.

  • From the team behind Small Axe Kitchen, this spot has a seven-metre terrazzo bar and floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with Italian cold cuts, cheeses, pickles and take-home meals such as gluten-free lasagne.

  • Even though it opened back in 2009, this cafe and roastery is still one of the most popular cafes in Brunswick. The interiors are spacious, with comfortable chairs and cosy booths. And the food is adventurous, but it won't veer too far away from anyone's comfort zones. The coffee is, predictably, excellent.

  • Carlton’s Ima Project Cafe – the city’s standard-bearer for Japanese breakfast – is now a day-to-night cafe and izakaya, serving dishes like kingfish chirashi and shokupan slathered in mentaiko (cod roe).

  • This cafe and roasting house is one of Melbourne’s most established brunch spots. But even after all these years, it’s still at the very front of the pack. Dishes are still delicious and creative, the coffee’s still great and the space is still slick.

  • A melting pot of the culturally diverse inhabitants of Brunswick.

  • Pasta for breakfast? This homely cafe, set in a 100-year-old building, serves up impressive Sicilian-inspired dishes. Go for breakfast pasta served with pork cheek and a slow-cooked egg; chargrilled sardines; or hearty meatballs. Plus, enjoy coffee from nearby Code Black, as well as easy-drinking Italian and Australian wines.

  • Find creative and elevated pan-Asian-inspired brunches, coffee roasted in-house and 97 seats. Go for peach and coconut rice pudding, nourishing poke bowls, or a hearty Korean chicken burger with kimchi fries.

  • It’s attractive enough, but this cafe is less about flashy Instagram-ready food and more about simple things done well.

  • The best doughnuts in Brunswick.

  • There’s nothing minor about this little weatherboard cafe-conversion.

  • Order some breakfast and play table tennis while you wait.

  • This bread and pastry outfit supplies some of the best cafes in Melbourne. Head here if you want to go straight to the source.

  • Brunswick’s sweet spot for specialised cakes and macarons.

  • A heritage-listed landmark with a satisfying brunch menu, Proud Mary coffee and free wi-fi.

  • A sustainable eatery that embraces Melbourne’s artistic community.

  • With only the word Green on the window – Green Refectory is a slim, spirited space where food is the hero.

  • Don’t let the name fool you – this is much more than a little corner store.

  • An affordable Middle-Eastern bakery, cafe and grocer.

  • All-day dining at this Thai-infused cafe on Sydney Road.

  • Blending elements of Melbourne cafe, European wine bar and Tokyo-style “listening bar”, this buzzing spot hosts vinyl-only DJs five nights a week, with no cover charges. It’s one of the best places in town to hear recorded music.

  • The Brunswick branch of one of Melbourne’s most-loved coffee roasters. Take in the warm, wood-panelled interiors with a cup of seasonal blend or single origin coffee, alongside pastries from Austro Bakery. There are also coffee beans, at-home brewing gear and ceramics to take home.

  • What started as a home-grown coffee project in Aaron Wood’s backyard is now a dedicated roastery, coffee shop and wholesaler. Come for a single-origin espresso or filter, and grab some beans, merch and brewing gear to take home.

  • A coffee “cellar door” from the founder of Monk Bodhi Dharma. Here, brews might range from $5 to $200-plus, and they’re all served black to let the beans shine.

  • The team behind Good Days is serving up excellent banh mis, pillowy bao and pastries. Come for chewy baguettes stuffed with xiu mai (saucy Vietnamese meatballs), crunchy porchetta and turmeric fried fish. Plus, Vietnamese iced coffee and nitro tea.

  • The couple behind it lived in Copenhagen for three years, and wanted to bring their love for Danish bread to Melbourne. Find sticky-sweet cardamom buns and an artisanal loaf as big as a cushion – served with a hearty helping of hygge.

  • Order up at Walrus, a low-key spot inspired by America’s west coast diner scene. It boasts a menu of pancake stacks with whipped butter, crisp US-style bacon, pecan pie by the slice and more in a lo-fi, *Twin Peaks*-style fit-out.

  • Come for pour-over coffee from 10 different Japanese roasters and espresso from local suppliers. Pair your brew with yuzu cheesecake, emoji-perfect chiffon cake and prawn katsu sandos.

  • Find all the handheld brekkie classics from the Fitzroy original – including a cheesy stacks-on of hash brown, gooey fried egg and bacon. And if you’re after a hangover cure, add on a Korean pear juice.