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 with them. It's thanks to these people that we have polished operations such as Seven Seeds and Market Lane today.

European cafe culture has since spread to the rest of the city (and the country) and morphed into something uniquely Australian, but Carlton's original spirit remains. Here are our favourite spots for coffee and food.

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

2 Argyle Place, Carlton

Ima Project Cafe


This Japanese-Australian eatery embraces “ugly vegetables” and local art and design. The breakfast menu might involve anything from baked eggs served in a miso sugo to porridge with poached pear, sesame and mitarashi (a sweet soy syrup). If you're planning on getting the lunch special, get in early – it sells out fast.

169 Elgin Street, Carlton

Seven Seeds


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

114 Berkeley Street, Carlton

Assembly Carlton


Try espresso blends and herbal teas before you buy.

60 Pelham Street, Carlton

Vertue Coffee Roasters


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

8 Raffa Place, Carlton
Book a Table

Heartattack and Vine


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

329 Lygon Street, Carlton

Market Lane Coffee Carlton


A takeaway-only outpost from another top roaster.

176 Faraday Street, Carlton

The Queensberry Pour House


Bottomless filter coffee and tasty eats.

210 Queensberry Street, Carlton

Wild Timor Cafe Carlton


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

251 Faraday Street, Carlton

St Charly


A lively brunch spot that takes inspiration from Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

306-308 Lygon Street, Carlton

Tiamo Coffee


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

303 Lygon Street, Carlton

Tanaka Co-Op


Take away toasties and sit-down cafe classics burnished with African flavours, made with produce from the kitchen gardens.

140 Rathdowne Street, Carlton

Vincent the Dog


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

348 Drummond Street, Carlton

DOC Espresso


Coffee and focaccia, just like the old days.

326 Lygon Street, Carlton
Order on Providoor



Stovetop coffee and inventive breakfasts.

100 Leicester Street, Carlton

Café Lua


Locals come here for the big, diverse menu.

169 Elgin Street, Carlton

Le Miel et la lune


Nab the best position near the large, street-facing open windows.

330 Cardigan Street, Carlton

Good Measure


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.

193 Lygon Street, Carlton