The 8 Best Cafes in Carlton for Breakfast, Brunch or Lunch

by Kate Stewart

Searching for the Best Cafes in Carlton

I’m on a mission to discover the best cafes in Australia. This time, I’m where it all began, visiting the fabulous cafes in Carlton.

After a really hard couple of years of COVID. Cafes are doing it tough. You can walk through any town in Australia and see cafes who have had to close their doors.

I want to help in any way I can. I have decided to dedicate my blog to finding the best Cafes in Australia and shine a light on them. It’s time to get out and support these wonderful cafes. I have already uncovered fabulous cafes in Geelong, amazing cafes in North Sydney and brilliant cafes in Richmond. Now, I’m in Carlton.

Australia’s obsession with coffee was born in the 1950s when a large wave of Europeans arrived on Australian shores. Serious about good coffee they settled in Carlton.  In the '60s and '70s, Lygon Street was filled with communal, European-style cafes run by Italians and other post-war immigrants. It's thanks to these people, we now have so many amazing Australian coffee roasters, like Industry Beans and Vertue Coffee Roasters.

European cafe culture has since spread to the rest of Australia and transformed into something uniquely Australian. But Carlton's original spirit still remains.

I want to go right round this beautiful country of ours and narrow in on regions, cafes and coffee roasters to find exactly where the best cafes are.

Where is the best espresso bar? There are so many in Carlton. Who serves up a killer piccolo latte? Do cafes in Carlton have a better recipe for chai latte than cafes in Surry Hills? What’s the answer to the age-old question; cappuccino verses latte. Who serves the best bubble tea in Carlton?

I'm so excited to tell you about my all-time favourite spots for coffee and food in Carlton.

Did you know that Carlton has the largest Greek Population outside of Greece?

The Line Up

Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters


Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters


Located at 114 Berkeley Street Carlton is Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters. It would be no surprise to any Australian, when I say Melbourne is full of great coffee spots. Still, there are some that sit above the rest. Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters is undeniably one of the best cafes in the city. The service here is exceptional. Housed in a spacious warehouse with loads of atmosphere, this beautifully fitted out cafe serves up brilliant coffee and delicious food.

Seven Seeds is always busy. It’s not uncommon to have to wait for a table. Melbourne Uni is a block away, so students often drop by while they kill time between classes. If you find yourself in the CBD looking for coffee. Check out Seven Seeds Coffee Roasters. You won’t be disappointed.

The menu at Seven Seeds is also strong. Popular dishes include brioche soldiers and soft-boiled eggs, French toast and a delicious double-patty Wagyu burger.

They also have their own version of my favourite brunch, the always delicious eggs Benedict.

Vertue Coffee Roasters


Vertue Coffee Roasters Carlton


Located at 8 Raffa Place in Carlton. Vertue Coffee Roasters has some of the best Melbourne coffee. It’s named after a handbill, circulated in London in 1657, talking up the medicinal properties of coffee.  Hence the different spelling of "virtue".

The food menu is innovative. Yes, you can get plain toast with spreads, or toy soldiers for the kids. But the focus here is unusual dishes. The Harissa Scramble is fabulous. Its house made harissa sauce, harissa scrambled egg, sourdough grain toast, fried shallots and Vietnamese mint. The Inca Salad is great if you’re looking for something light. Its organic quinoa, chickpea, battered cauliflower, cranberry, cashew cheese, shredded kale, baby carrot, pomegranate, capers, smoked almond, toasted pepita and grilled peach. But the Red Velvet Blueberry Hotcakes are my absolute go-to at Vertue Coffee Roasters. They are always so good. They come with black sesame and finger lime ice cream, salted chocolate caramel, ginger crumble, apricot gel and chocolate sesame shard.

Each dish comes with a suggested drink pairing. Vertue Coffee Roasters is a fabulous experience and well worth a visit.

Assembly Carlton


Assembly Carlton


Located at 60 Pelham Street Carlton. Assembly Carlton care about bringing their customers delicious, interesting and meaningfully sourced products. Everyone is welcome at Assembly. The team is always confident they can serve you something you’ll love.  As well as coffee and tea, you can find a thoughtful selection of brewing equipment and lifestyle products that you can learn about, take home and love.

Penny Farthing Espresso Bar


Penny Farthing Espresso


Located at 206 High Street Northcote. Penny Farthing’s approach to vintage is appropriately nostalgic. Navigating a fine line between cool and warmly earnest. Locals love it for its simple food, good coffee and a courtyard filled with workers on their laptops or those soaking up the sun.

The all-day food menu at Penny Farthing Espresso combines cafe staples with exciting seasonal offers. The avocado smash is wonderful. Its whipped feta and avocado smash with fresh basil and mint, served on toasted sourdough with a poached egg and a side of chilli oil. The Breaky Burrito is also amazing. Its scrambled eggs, spinach, onion relish, spicy beans and cheddar with jalapeno, chipotle mayo and Mexican spicy dust. If you are in a hurry the Chicken Waldorf Ciabatta is a fabulous lunch on the run. Its chicken, apple, celery, walnut and mayo mix with rocket and roasted capsicum.

There is also an amazing drinks menu which brings together some of the best. There is fabulous coffee from Industry Beans, delicious smoothies and plenty of cold brew and hot choccy’s.

Espresso Alley

Espresso Alley Carlton


Located at 4 Separation Street Northcote is Espresso Alley. Established in late 2011, Espresso Alley has a calm, quiet atmosphere and a subtle Middle Eastern influence. Baked eggs are spiced up with harissa and finished with feta. The sumac yoghurt and za’atar mushrooms and scrambled eggs are next level amazing. On weekends you’ll find locals enjoying a Melba organic coffee out the front in the sunshine.

Vincent the Dog


Vincent the Dog Cafe Carlton


Located at 34 Drummond Street Carlton. Vincent the Dog is a dog friendly cafe with a wonderful courtyard, great coffee and awesome food for dine-in or take-away. Housed in a former bottle shop, this unassuming Drummond Street address houses a light-filled, minimalist space.

The coffee is outstanding. It’s roasted by Code Black Coffee Roasters to Vincent the Dog’s unique specifications. There’s also a rotating selection of single origin coffees on offer.

From early morning through to lunch, Vincent the Dog satisfies locals and visitors alike with a number of Asian-inspired dishes, alongside great brunch staples. There is also a section dedicated to waffles for all of us waffle lovers out there. As well as a handful of specialty bagels.

The halloumi and avocado bagels are amazing. They include spinach, tomato and cream cheese. I also love the Strawberries and Cream Cheese bagel.  When I am after something a little larger. I go for the Vietnamese Noodle Salad with mint, pickled veg, lettuce, fried onions, peanuts and cucumber. Add some spring rolls, you won’t be disappointed. Vegan and gluten free options are also available.

For those wanting to take away, there’s a small but delicious range. You can choose from sweet or savoury bagels, or an assortment of delicious pastries from Cobb Lane.

Market Lane


Market Lane Carlton


Located at 176 Faraday Street Carlton. Market Lane Carlton is a little coffee shop in one of my favourite pockets of Melbourne. Opened in January 2013, this is Market Lane’s third coffee shop in the city.

The size of their Carlton Cafe is what makes it so special! This small space with limited seating, creates a lovely sense of intimacy and community. People gather both inside and out, to wait for their takeaway coffee, or sit and enjoy their coffee in the sun with a croissant or Bombolini from Baker D. Chirico. I have spent many a day catching up with friends who live close by. There is such a lovely sense of community that you can feel surrounding the Market Lane coffee shop.

Market Lane sell coffee beans for home here. As well as brewing equipment and homewares, and of course, delicious espresso and filter coffee to savour on a lovely Melbourne day.

With a single focus on roasting, blending and brewing coffee. Market Lane Coffee is definitely one of Melbourne’s best Coffee Roasters.

DOC Espresso


DOC Espresso Carlton


Located at 326 Lygon Street in Carlton is DOC Espresso. If you are after authentic Italian coffee and cuisine in Melbourne, you head for Lygon Street.

DOC Espresso started out serving coffee, Italian hot chocolate and bomboloni. It’s now transformed into one of the most delicious pasta and focaccia bars in Australia. Open seven days a week, they offer a fresh selection of breakfast focaccias and piadinas filled with such scrumptious fillings as prosciutto San Daniele and Pugliese buffalo mozzarella.

For breakfast the Bircher Muesli with blackberries, strawberries, grapes and crumbled dry banana is fabulous. While for lunch I can’t go past the Spaghetti Al Pomodoro. Its Molisana Spaghetti with San Marzano tomato, basil and parmigiano.

DOC also now have the DOC Delicatessen next door, as well as DOC restaurants in Drummond Street Carlton and in Mornington.