Best Breakfast in Sydney's CBD

Updated September 28th, 2021


The CBD has come a long way. We've now got access to buttermilk hotcakes topped with mascarpone, sourdough sangas stuffed with Thai salads, breakfast tacos, Italian pastries and some of Sydney's best coffee. It used to be that finding a good feed in the city centre was unthinkable before at least lunchtime. Now, breakfast in the CBD is a genuinely exciting prospect. Whether it's avo on toast at a new hotspot or congee in a decades-old institution, these are our picks for the best breakfasts in the CBD.

  • Helmed by a Michelin-starred chef, this multifaceted Japanese diner brings together a dining room, a cocktail bar and a chef's table under one elegant roof. Dishes are informed by Japanese tradition, French techniques and a root-to-stem philosophy.

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  • Welcome to the cafe zeitgeist: seasonal, minimalist, health-aware, produce-focused and made in-house. That's all thanks to Mike McEnearney, a chef who was playing with all the above concepts back in 2011 when he opened Kitchen by Mike in Rosebery. Like that now-closed original, this warehouse-like space revolves around daily salads, sandwiches and bigger meals often based on woodfired cooking.

  • This is where Noma chef and owner Rene Redzepi ate breakfast while he was in Sydney. Likely because it was a classic example of what Australian cafes do well: fresh salads, great coffee, good produce and a relaxed atmosphere. On the latter, this and Kitchen by Mike are the pick of the lot. Cross Eatery's high ceilings, wide table spacing and slick design make it a particularly good meeting spot.

  • The popular Melbourne roaster's first foray in the Sydney market is ambitious. Look at its coffee menu, which has a "cold brew bubble" made with coffee-soaked tapioca pearls and a sweet house-made soy milk, and an iced coffee with wattleseed and panela syrup. The food is just as interesting without being unrecognisable. The last seasonal menu had a coffee-rubbed burger patty, fruit salads served next to coffee panna cotta and oats with spirulina foam.

  • At night, this cafe-grocer hybrid serves some of the spiciest Thai in Sydney, but its day service mixes traditional flavours with cafe standards. From 8am try pan-baked eggs with smoked fish sausage or a big breakfast with a side of congee and a Single Origin coffee. Wait for brunch and you'll be in the only cafe in Australia serving pasta with wild ginger and Thai herbs, as well as Brickfields sourdough stuffed with holy basil stir-frys.

  • This coffee-roasting flagship is busy from the moment it opens until the end of lunch. The coffee here is darker than how it comes at most other places on this list, and the food is progressive; it mixes cafe expectations with a rotating list of seasonally-expressive creations.

  • From the same team that brought us industry-leading cafes Paramount Coffee Project and Reuben Hills. This miniature lobby cafe works with a lot of the same ideas: wide spaces, industrial materials, bright coffees and a menu that reflects the coffee-growing regions of the world. Like at its predecessors there are influences from the Americas, particularly with the achiote tacos, but at Hills Bros there are more Southeast Asian influences, with a nasi goreng and a brown-rice congee.

  • At the CBD venture from the team behind the classic Grounds of Alexandria, you can order anything from a grilled rainbow trout to a poached chicken and brown rice savoury porridge.

  • There are just a few options here, all of them Italian and all of them excellent. This place is from the folks who run Matteo Double Bay and it's reflective of it; it has all the Eastern Suburbs shine mixed with a bit of the CBD's aesthetic. It's also probably the only place in Sydney to eat an egg version of cacio e pepe (scrambled eggs, Pecorino, pepper and pancetta on bread). If you're a stickler for Italian traditions and you want just a coffee and a pastry, there's also a daily selection of house-baked goodies.

  • A tiny cafe with glossy interiors and succinct menu made and developed by the owner, Zach Hiotis. Due to the size of the cafe much of the offering is led by convenience – a $10 coconut pudding is smashable on the sidewalk, and the pork and egg burger has the structural integrity to last a trip to the office. Brews are courtesy of Veneziano beans and some of the most high-tech coffee gadgetry available.

  • Above Par is a sleek 60-seater bistro in the heart of the CBD, serving homestyle Levantine dishes from lunch and well into the evening.