The Best Cafes in Carlton

Updated 1 month ago


Melbourne is known around the world for its cafe culture, and Carlton is arguably where it all started. In the ’60s and ’70s, Lygon Street was filled with communal, European-style cafes run by Italians and other post-war immigrants (who also brought then-novel espresso machines along with them). It’s thanks to these people that we have local icons such as Seven Seeds and Market Lane today. Alongside them, relative newcomers like Good Measure and Fenton are also making their mark. While Euro cafe culture has since spread to the rest of the city (and country) and morphed into something else, Carlton’s original spirit remains. Stop and sip at the cafes on this list, curated by Broadsheet’s expert food and drinks editors.

  • The HQ of one of Melbourne's leading coffee roasters.

  • A takeaway-only outpost from another top roaster.

  • This paddock-to-plate cafe and bistro sources much of its produce directly from the owners’ Gippsland farm, and uses it to serve up hearty breakfasts, plus harvest dinners with local DJs and booze.

  • Coffee and focaccia, just like the old days.

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  • A contemporary take on the Italian espresso bar, from the duo behind Wide Open Road.

  • Dench pastries, Coffee Supreme lattes and al fresco dining, all in a former power substation.

  • Try espresso blends and herbal teas before you buy.

  • Find yourself a second home at this cool neighbourhood cafe by a team of hospitality veterans. It serves coffee and sangas during the day, then cocktails and snacks at night – all within a timber-clad space decked out like a north-side living room.

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  • The roller door goes up mid-morning at this sun-drenched Japanese eatery, and it’s worth getting in early to secure your picnic-ready bento box and Japanese-inspired gelato. Once you do, take your spoils across the street and enjoy in Lincoln Square.

  • A vibrant corner shop that combines a cafe, wine shop, deli and general store. Enjoy its dippy eggs and morning plates, or grab a bottle of wine and bouquet to-go.

  • Cult-followed lamingtons by a former Black Star Pastry chef. Alongside its playful range of lamingtons (think yuzu curd and cream; and fairy-bread popcorn), expect made-to-order onigiri, pork-katsu sausage rolls and miso-mushroom pies.

  • Half the fun is finding this converted stable, where coffee is roasted on site.

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  • Four ex-soldiers are behind this cafe, which sells coffee direct from Timor.

  • It's been here since 1977 and it's still going strong.

  • Filter, pour-over, espresso done three ways, and equipment to do it all at home.

  • It’s named after (but is far more likeable than) the worst character in ’90s golf comedy Happy Gilmore. Expect sangas brimming with hot-honey fried chicken biscuits and fish 'n' chip butties.

  • Stovetop coffee and inventive breakfasts.