The Best Cafe in South Melbourne in 2022

by Kate Stewart

Searching for the Best South Melbourne Cafes 

South Melbourne is one of my all-time favourite suburbs. The best cafe in South Melbourne is going to be hard to find because the area offers such a rich variety of amazing options. South Melbourne is located on the cities doorstep, but it has a very individual feel. It is one of Melbourne’s most vibrant corridors of food, drink and activity.

There really is something special about almost every South Melbourne cafe. Maybe its South Melbourne’s proximity to the city, the beach or perhaps the delicious smells emanating from the South Melbourne Market. It just has a different feel from cafes in South Yarra, cafes in St Kilda and cafes in Melbourne CBD

Whether you are after a latte, cappuccino, flat white, mocha, espresso, or something else entirely, there is always somewhere close-by that will suit your needs. Cafes in South Melbourne just offer great coffee, delicious food, and a relaxing atmosphere that is so hard to beat.

The Main Attraction 

South Melbourne lies between the riverfront Southbank precinct to the north, and the bayside suburbs of Port Melbourne and Albert Park to the south.

In South Melbourne you really can't beat the main attraction – The South Melbourne Market. It really is an institution. Locals and people from surrounding suburbs flock to the market every weekend to get the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats and breads. By the time you have wandered around, tasted 100 delicious food samples and lugged you bags up-and-down every isle, you are going to need some great coffee and a delicious breakfast.

The area’s solid cafe contingent keeps the al fresco strips humming during the day. As the sun lowers and hours stretch into evening, bars and restaurants come to life. The hidden laneways of South Melbourne are some of my favourites. Look closely and you will find funky wine bars on every corner.

In this charming, leafy suburb. There are so many great cafes to choose from. Here's the best of a brilliant bunch.

Cafes in South Melbourne         

Proper & Son

Proper and Sons Cafe South Melbourne

Search 'Cafes South Melbourne', and Proper and Sons will be at the top of your list. Located at the Coventry Street end of South Melbourne Market’s Food Hall, Proper & Son love to focus on fresh produce from the South Melbourne Market. Owner Eugene Lavery wanted to open a South Melbourne Cafe that truly made the most of what was on offer at the market.

Meals at Proper & Son are honest to the ingredients but inspired in their flavour combinations; whether it’s a sage, onion and cranberry chicken stuffing, or the combination of rosehip and mint in one of their house-made drinks. The menu changes weekly based on seasonality, but you can always find slow-cooked meat, fresh salads, rolls and quality coffee from Toby’s Estate Coffee Roasters.

Bricklane Bagels

Bricklane Bagels Cafe South Melbourne

What would be on your ultimate breakfast bagel? According to Bricklane Bagels, it’s all about simple ingredients and allowing the bagels to do the talking.

There are 15 topping options on offer, from the very simple (butter, vegemite, peanut butter and jam), to the more decadent. You can order classic New York inspired smoked salmon and pastrami combos. Or my go-to which is a Melbourne staple of avocado, tomato, feta and basil. The Nutella and cream cheese option with strawberries and toasted almonds is also pretty great.

Dairy-based cheeses can even be swapped for vegan cream cheese or vegan feta. Their delicious coffee comes courtesy of Melbourne-based Axil Coffee Roasters.

Market Lane Coffee South Melbourne

Market Lane Cafe South Melbourne

If you're searching for 'Best Coffee South Melbourne', Market Lane is your cafe. A great coffee always improves my weekend shopping experience. My perfect mix is two parts shopping to every one coffee. Or maybe it’s one part shopping, two parts coffee.  This Market Lane might technically not be within the walls of the South Melbourne Market, but it’s so close that it may as well be. You can step out of the fruit and veggie section of the Market, dash across Coventry Street and look for the dusky blue shopfront of Market Lane.

Like the other five Market Lane cafes across the city, this one offers a small range of pastries and home-brewing equipment. But it’s really all about the coffee. Seasonal blends and single origins roasted at the Prahran Head Quarters are served as espresso or filter.

It’s guaranteed to make your market visit better and keep you coming back for more.

The Kettle Black

The Kettle Black Cafe South Melbourne

I don’t feel quite right calling The Kettle Black a cafe. Yes, it serves all the classics. But it aims for something more considered than anything I have previously experienced before lunch. With dishes that have ingredients such as house-fermented yoghurt, King Island crayfish and Flinders Island wallaby, it seems more like a breakfast restaurant than a café or coffee shop.

The food at the Kettle Black has high aspirations, but the café / restaurant vibe remains relaxed. For espresso, there's a custom Darling Blend, or a rotating single-origin. On nice days, the coffee cart sits out the front, to stop takeaways flooding in and out.

KUU Cafe

KUU Cafe South Melbourne

Located at 190 Park Street, the KUU Café strays from the typical Japanese food found in Melbourne. You won’t find sushi rolls or okonomyaki here.  There’s an eclectic menu that experiments with Japanese and Western flavours, offering creative, wholesome meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The owners designed the menu and interior together. Bringing their love of Melbourne and Japan together under the one roof. White brick walls, wooden floorboards, pastel ceramic bowls and a splash of indoor plants create a light, bright, airy space.

The menu includes the Japanese Brekkie Platter for the hungry, which is two onigiri rice balls, two salads and a poached egg with white sesame hollandaise sauce, grilled salmon and a side of miso soup. A popular lunch item is the Taco Rice KUU Zen, which is made with brown rice, chicken mince, taco sauce, a fried egg, mozzarella, tomato salsa, avocado and a side salad.

KUU also has takeaway options and a deli section for those eating on the go. If you’re in a hurry, pick up a tofu or chicken katsu sandwich and a takeaway coffee. If you’re after something different, try the matcha green tea latte.

The Left-Handed Chef

The Left Handed Chef Cafe South Melbourne

Located at 108 Bank Street, the Left-Handed Chef feels more like my grandparents living room than a cafe. It’s something about the grandfather clock, antique photo frames and the fabulous handmade tea cosies hugging teapots.

For many years the Left-Handed Chef was a breakfast-focused cafe. And yes, the Chef is actually left-handed. But back in 2019, they decided to change things up. Now the main attraction is dinner.

Israeli heritage is evident in most of the dishes. The hummus bowls, pita pockets or large share platters are my favourite.

Every falafel is shaped and made to order, and they are delicious.

For something sweet at the end of your meal, classic options such as baklava and rugelach are the most popular options.

Wynyard Cafe

Wynyard Cafe South Melbourne

Located in a dead-end laneway and sharing a space with distinguished retail outfit Made in Japan. Wynyard serves up some of the best South Melbourne coffee. Assorted baguettes and sandwiches line the display cabinet, along with tempting cakes and brownies. Gluten-free bread, house-made muesli bars and granola balls complement other gluten-free options on the menu. The coffee is from Sydney’s Single Origin Coffee Roasters. It’s smooth, strong and always makes me have a second cup.

Padre Coffee South Melbourne Market

Padre Cafe South Melbourne

If your looking for 'the best cafe South Melbourne', Padre Coffee will be high on the list. Located within the South Melbourne Market. This Padre Coffee store is an offshoot of Padre Coffee East Brunswick and Queen Victoria Market. This tiny little cafe is a haven for busy shoppers and coffee lovers alike. Featuring serious specialty coffee to consume on site and an impressive range of freshly roasted beans to take home.

All coffee roasting is done at the Brunswick East Head Quarters and, on any given day, there may be as many as a dozen carefully chosen single origin and blended options to pick from. The very friendly staff will happily guide you through the options and share tasting notes on some of the more obscure offerings, such as the Mexican Angel Albino or Nicaraguan Los Nogales.

With just enough space to spread out the weekend newspapers, the open-sided shopfront offers a fabulous vantage point for taking in the sights and sounds of the busy market.

With coffee being the focus here, food is kept minimal with just a small selection of good quality sweet and savoury pastries on offer. It's the perfect option for a post-shop coffee hit.

The Crux & Co

The Crux & Co Cafe South Melbourne

Located at 34 Albert Road, the Crux and Co has been designed to be homely and relaxing. There’s a strong French influence in the menu, but with a culturally diverse team back of house, you’ll find culinary traditions from South America, Italy and Korea making appearances as well.

Unassuming from the outside, The Crux and Co’s long interior space seats 110 people all the way through to the commercial-sized bakery at the back.

All the pastries and desserts are made on-site. You can find decadent macarons, eclairs, escargot and croissant varieties, as well as the recently popular crogle - a croissant-bagel hybrid. They are all next level amazing!

Coffee is a custom, robust blend by Five Senses Coffee Roasters. Other drink selections are chai by Chai Boy, two flavours of Mörk hot chocolate and organic tea by Ovvio.