Melbourne cafes, patisseries and coffee shops have a particular knack for turning tiny spaces into endearing homes. If you haven’t explored some of Melbourne’s best hole-in-the-wall hotspots, here’s a list to get you started.
The atmosphere is electric at Parco, once a substation and now an all-day breakfast and lunch haven on a traffic island near Argyle Square in Carlton. Try the breakfast banh mi, or the Thai duck salad, and don’t leave without a charming oversized business card, featuring sketches by a Japanese artist. Make sure you do a quick sweep of the front counter display for house-made sweets and fresh pastries from Dench.
Hidden away in the historic Nicholas building, Cathedral Coffee is an intimate nook and outpost for Cathedral Coffee Roasters. It fuels a steady stream of creative types with either Ethiopian single origin or Acevedo espresso roast. People watch from a perch by the window or linger over a $6 gozleme or chicken schnitzel roll, and $5 bacon-and-egg rolls or frittata. Appease your 3pm craving for sweetness with a miniature selection of sweet treats.
Switch Board Cafe
Melbourne is great at transforming the tiniest spaces into a daily ritual for locals, like this hole-in-the-wall cafe that used to be a switchboard. If a seat is free, grab it and get more than a coffee to go. Switch Board Cafe has made a virtue of its diminutive size by focusing on easily prepared snacks, like toasties and bagels. Settle in for a unique dining experience.
Chuckle Park Bar & Cafe
A few strides will take you past Chuckle Park Bar & Cafe. A charming laneway space, expect a no-fuss outdoor design and a tiny caravan dishing out simple bar food. Alongside wine, beer and classic cocktails, you can nibble through toasted sandwiches and antipasto boards.
Agathé Pâtisserie Petite
The South Melbourne Market institution, Agathé Pâtisserie has quietly opened a second store in the Royal Arcade. Nestled underneath a stairwell, the tiny shop has treats delivered by bike from their South Melbourne bakehouse. Sweet goodies on any day may include matcha croissants, custard hearts and escargot. Good luck choosing just one.
On the corporate end of Melbourne’s bustling city, Patricia doesn’t do much besides coffee. Luckily that’s all most bleary-eyed workers are after. The menu has just three options: white, black or filter coffee. It saves having to put your thinking cap on until later in the morning.
Jungle Juice in Centre place
It’s difficult to miss Jungle Juice, despite the café’s slim entrance and cosy interior. Follow the trail of juice-wielding office workers, and you’ll find a spot that blends some of the best. Stop by for lunch and you’ll also be rewarded with some of the best bagels in the city.
A compact bar in Presgrave Place, Bar Americano is a standing room-only spot. Sleek dark wood complements white-tiled walls, while bartenders serve top-quality cocktails alongside steaming espressos. It’s the ideal no-frills post-work drink spot, or a good one to drop by early Saturday evening.
Cup of Truth
Wedged into a corner of Campbell Arcade, Cup of Truth truthfully has some of the finest takeaway coffee in Melbourne. A small pastry-lined glass cabinet and coffee machine encompasses the majority of the space. A no-frills venue below Flinders Street Station, there’s just a handful of bar stools facing the café. Expect a smile with your morning latte.
La Creperie on Swanston Street
It’s impossible to get much smaller than La Creperie on Swanston Street. The tiny, renovated old newsstand barely accommodates two employees. Dishing out some of the best crepes in Melbourne, order a homemade salted-caramel crepe and be forever pleased.