This is our edit of Melbourne’s best new cafes from the past 12 months, updated monthly.

Some are highly invested in serving excellent food and following the latests coffee trends, while others are just trying to become great neighbourhood catch-up spots.

Here’s where we’re going for coffee this December.

Related Pages
Best New Restaurants in Melbourne
Best Cafes in Melbourne
Best Coffee in Melbourne
Most Beautiful Cafes in Melbourne

Gathered Cafe and Eatery

Gathered is located in a cavernous space that was once a wool factory. With two walls of tall, steel-framed windows and a stripped-back fit-out, this stunning space breathes new life into the converted-warehouse-as-cafe concept. The menu is concise and veg-heavy (but not vegetarian). There’s an Ottolenghi-inspired salad bar; a beetroot smash served with smoked salmon; smoked-butter scrambled eggs; and a humble – but exceptional – egg and bacon roll with Sriracha mayonnaise and stretchy mozzarella.

90 Maribyrnong Street, Footscray

Via Porta

Via Porta is one of the prettiest new cafes to open recently. This Mont Albert cafe-deli incorporates earthy palettes, stone floors that echo Italy’s cobbled laneways, and sweeping benches in the grocery area. It even took out the Best Café Design award at the 2019 Eat Drink Design Awards. If you dine-in here, choose from dishes such as Scotch egg with shaved brussels sprouts or a classic cheese omelette. Taking away? There are baked goods (influenced by France and Italy) and sandwiches to take home with your deli fare.

677 Whitehorse Road, Mont Albert

Lokall

Toasties are having a moment in the sun, and Lokall’s three-cheese open toastie – which combines cheddar, mozzarella and Grana Padano with gooey bechamel – is already a contender for the best in town. The other sandwiches on the menu shouldn’t be ignored though, especially the chicken katsu sando and the vegan cheese and broccoli number. These sandwiches (and more – there’s a Saturday brunch menu) are all served up in a beautiful space. This large corner spot (which seats 100, with 40 outside) has floor-to-ceiling windows and a clean, sleek fit-out.

582 Swan Street, Burnley

Small Axe Deli

When Small Axe Kitchen opened in Brunswick a few years ago, we were taken with Kirsty Tate and Adam Pruckner’s approachable but refined take on Sicilian soul food. The breakfast pasta also became a cult hit, so much so that in 2018, we included it as one of the recipes in the Broadsheet Italian Cookbook. Safe to say, we were happy to hear about the opening of Small Axe Deli. It’s the younger sibling that lives just a few blocks away, on Sydney Road. It’s a cosy space with a seven-metre-long terrazzo bar, and floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with Italian products – both local and imported – to take home. If you’re eating in, dishes are light and fresh, and there’s a solid panini range. There’s also a selection of ready-made, take-home meals.

1/625 Sydney Road, Brunswick

Theodore's

This new Brunswick spot is a response to the lack of flexibility that owners (and new parents) Lily Stokes and Henry Brooks encountered when looking for spots to socialise at with other young parents. Brunch at Theodore’s gets served until 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays and feels like a bit like a continental breakfast buffet: there is house-made yoghurt, seasonal fruit, pancakes and syrup, and fried eggs. Between Thursday and Saturday dinner’s offered too. The focus there is on fast service so parents can get home and get the kids to bed.

4 Saxon Street, Brunswick

Nine Yards

This one comes from a posse of co-owners who, between them, are responsible for some of Melbourne’s most popular cafes in recent years: Left Field, Plain Sailing, Port of Call, Tall Timber, Coin Laundry and Touchwood. It’s little wonder South Melbourne’s Nine Yards feels so fully formed so soon after opening. The theme here is Australiana. In the fit-out that manifests in floor-to-ceiling eucalyptus-green cabinets, terracotta-pink columns and native flora positioned around the room. On the menu, that means plenty of native ingredients, including pepperberry and Kakadu plum. There’s even damper served with butter and bush honey.

228-230 Dorcas Street, South Melbourne

Cantina Carolina

Joe Mammone’s had a busy 2019. Open a rooftop rendition of Bar Carolina that’s somehow more refined yet manages to sneak in homages to Kentucky Fried Chicken on the menu? Tick. Close CBD institution Sarti and refresh it as Marameo? Yep, he did that too. Cantina Carolina had a more low-key opening than Tetto di Carolina and Marameo, but it’s no less impressive. Because why shouldn’t South Yarra dwellers be able to have a bowl of spaghetti alla chitarra with their 7am espresso? This is pasta as public service. The rest of the menu – from sweet bomboloni to substantial lunch options – is equally worthwhile.

48 Toorak Road, South Yarra

Maker & Monger

For four years, Maker & Monger’s Prahran market stall was overwhelmed by crowds clamouring for Anthony Femia’s cheeses (and the toasties he was making with them). Demand had outstripped supply, so Femia decided to expand. Maker & Monger hasn’t moved very far though – its new permanent home is in the market’s heritage harvest hall. Favourites such as the All-American grilled-cheese toastie (two American cheeses, onion and parsley) are still available, but there’s now a larger menu that includes a ham and fondue number and Reuben made with Wagyu. Perhaps best of all, you can now have a glass of wine with your fromage.

Shop 98, Prahran Market 163 Commercial Rd, Prahran

Rat the Cafe

It’s an interesting name, but thankfully this new Thornbury haunt is rodent free. Rat is an acronym for “root and tip”, the food philosophy where the whole vegetable is used and ingredient provenance rules supreme. The menu changes daily based on leftover ingredients – which are from nearby minimal-intervention farms. So yesterday’s unused sandwich bread becomes today’s French toast served with poached rhubarb. It’s in a humble corner spot. Inside, warm-white walls; outside, a cluster of bright-red tables.

72 Wales Street, Thornbury

Liminal

Liminal is the most ambitious cafe opening of the year so far. But we shouldn’t be surprised. It is, after all, the first cafe from the Mulberry Group since it sold genre-defining cafes Kettle Black, Higher Ground and Top Paddock. Liminal is just as show-stopping as those other spaces, but for different reasons. For one, the scope is more ambitious: more than just a cafe, Liminal also encompasses an eatery, a grab-and-go, a wine shop, a cheese store and a private dining room. Food is exciting too, whether it’s familiar (a hot rotisserie chicken roll with gravy) or more out-there (a mapo tofu noodle roll). The only problem? It’s not open on weekends.

161 Collins Street, Melbourne

Romans Original

This small Footscray spot does double duty as a bar and cafe. Regardless of the time of day, though, the atmosphere’s likely to be the same: friendly, comfortable, intimate. Thanks to its central spot less than 100 metres from the Footscray train station, Romans feels like it’s been around for far longer than it has. Get a sandwich with your coffee. A Meatsmith sausage patty served with fried egg and American cheese feels like a mature Macca’s brekkie; the meatball number comes in a crusty baguette, covered in chives and cheese.

50 Leeds Street, Footscray

Nigel

Nigel is a tiny cafe in a non-descript strip off Camberwell Junction. There are plenty of other cafes in the neighbourhood, but Nigel’s managed to set itself apart thanks to its high quality coffee, and its jaffles. Beans come from St Ali (owner Daniel Dick was formerly head barista there) and there are six jaffles to choose from. They include a classic ham and cheese, a Reuben, and a tuna melt – which is quickly becoming a runaway favourite.

Ground Floor 691 Burke Road, Camberwell

Egglab

Egglab – which mainly serves breakfast burgers, which mainly feature eggs –feels like a super-specialised version of an American diner. There are tiled floors and bar stool seating overlooking an open kitchen sporting a wide commercial griddle as its centrepiece. It’s not really the sort of place that encourages you to linger – it takes on average just under three minutes for your breakfast burger to hit your plate after you order it. You won’t have any reason to stick around, though, because as soon as you catch a whiff of your breakfast burger, you’ll scarf the whole thing down within seconds.

122 Johnson Street, Fitzroy

Pie Thief

Everything about Pie Thief – from the ’90s bowling alley-esque bright magenta and cyan walls and signage to having a party pie paddle and straight-up Milo on the menu – is designed to push your nostalgia buttons. But when it’s this well executed, does it matter? Melbourne is in the midst of a small-time pie renaissance right now, and we’re all the better for it. The lasagne pie’s received a lot of attention, but the vegan pumpkin and tofu-cheddar pie is another standout. A chicken parma sausage roll is also worth trying. There’s coffee by Code Black here, but you should order one of the old-school milkshakes, for your inner child.

297 Barkly Street, Footscray

Saint Dreux

This year, it feels like coffee in cafes has taken a back seat to the food. Saint Dreux comes courtesy of the team behind Slater Street Bench, so the coffee is inevitably good – but the reason you come here is for the sandwiches. Sorry, “sandos". With soft white bread, Panko-crumbed fried meat, mayonnaise and tonkatsu sauce, katsu sandos are a simple concept. But when they’re executed as well as they are at Saint Dreux, they’re truly noteworthy. Opt for the chicken or pork sando, or go for the Wagyu variant if you have $28 to spend on a small sandwich. It’s worth grabbing a castella with your coffee, they’re a small Portuguese-influenced sponge cake with Japanese flavours such as matcha and black sesame.

Level 2 St. Collins Lane 260 Collins Street, Melbourne

Oasis Fairfield

After more than 20 years of serving Murrumbeena, Middle Eastern bakery, cafe and grocer Oasis finally opened a second location, in Fairfield. After your shopping settle in at the cafe and order the shakshuka or a shawarma plate, or one of the Lebanese pizzas (chicken and spinach, lamb and feta, or a vegetarian version with extra za’atar). For coffee, there’s a La Marzoco in the corner that can pump out all of the classics, but we recommend the stove-brewed Turkish coffee, with the necessary accompaniment of a cube or two of Turkish delight.

96 Station Street, Fairfield

Holy Crumpets

Toast and English muffins are played out by now. Crumpets are the new dough-plus-toppings contender in town. And the doughy discs Holy Crumpets is toasting will ruin store-bought versions for you. The base crumpet recipe took owner Josh Clements six months to master. The results – made using whole-wheat and freshly milled stoneground flour – are chewy, crisp and moreish. Toppings include bloodwood honey from Gippsland or house-made jam. For something more elaborate, there’s a s’more-inspired option with chocolate, graham cracker and toasted marshmallow.

5 Little La Trobe Street, Melbourne
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