It would be remiss to talk about Melbourne’s dining scene without mentioning coffee, which is tantamount to a religion here. Don’t even whisper the word “Starbucks”: authentic Italian espresso (complete with rich crema and nothing to do with syrup added, ever) is the only game in town. Here, four of my favorite cafés, where the quality of the beans is equaled only by that of the people-watching.
Caffé e Cucina
Nothing beats disappearing for a few hours into the warm embrace of this dimly lit cavern, where everything from the specials scrawled in chalk on the blackboard to the rakishly handsome waitstaff and the impeccable coffee is just so.
Degraves Espresso Bar
Down an atmospheric lane, the quirky little café draws a boho crowd (ennui-filled boys in skinny jeans and girls bundled in stylish coats) who drape themselves over the vinyl theater seats that stand in for chairs. The breakfasts are hearty and perfectly cooked, the coffee a dream.
Il Fornaio has been dubbed Melbourne’s sexiest bakery. Part of The Prince empire, this is the place for a morning-after caffeine fix that’s one of the best in town.
An iconic café that never seems to change (the same regulars are propped up at the bar every time I visit), this slickly run operation doesn’t mess with the formula that made it popular in the first place: honest Italian dishes, great coffee and ever so slightly cheeky waiters.
It may be trite to evoke Italy when describing a coffee shop, but there’s no other way to describe this classic, where elderly gents named Mario sit side by side with stylish young women in head-to-toe black. It’s quirky, ancient and always the same…and the coffee is nothing short of bellissimo.
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