An Eclectic Melting Pot
Just like its residents, cafes in St Kilda are a real mixed bag, in the most fabulous way. Unlike Cafes in Melbourne CBD, Cafes in Hampton and Cafes in South Yarra. There are the institutions that have served the community for decades, and plenty of sleek newcomers heavily armed with new school matcha lattes and health bowls. There is nothing like, a summers day, a spot outside under the Acland Street Palms, soaking in all St Kilda has to offer.
There are so many cafes in St Kilda and a lot of them are worth visiting. There are a few though that stand out from the pack. I want to find out what makes these places so special.
Melbourne’s Favourite Beachside Suburb
There’s always something special about a beachside suburb that creates a special atmosphere. Is it the open water views, the designer houses right across from the sand., or perhaps the cafes, bars and clubs so close to the seaside? It’s hard to put a finger on. But clearly I’m not alone because people have been flocking to St Kilda since it was established more than 100 years ago.
It really is Melbourne’s favourite beachside suburb. In summer, the beachfront is jam packed with locals and visitors walking, running, skating and riding along the waterfront. Beach lovers sail, windsurf, kitesurf or kiteboard in Port Phillip Bay.
The suburb has an abundance of bars and pubs pairing food with drink, from wine and cheese, to tacos and mojitos, and burgers with beers. St Kilda is arguably the live music capital of Australia where you can see a new up-and-coming or world class band every night of the week. With locals and tourists alike winding up and down Acland Street of a warm summer evening, the atmosphere can easily turns to party vibes on a weekend.
It’s a strange mix, a suburb where you can party all night, or get a thrill ride at the iconic Luna park but also chill and see a colony of native penguins at the St Kilda break wall.
Cafes in St Kilda
A lot of cafés claim to have a strong sense of community. Not many team up with community gardens to donate their green waste each week. Community and sustainability looms large at Sister of Soul. The team makes nut milks to complement the acidity of the award-winning blends from St Ali Coffee Roasters. The menu is also fully vegetarian with plentiful vegan and gluten-free options.
Located at 14 Cowderoy Street, Cowderoy's Dairy is located just a hop-step-and jump away from the hustle and bustle of busy Fitzroy Street. You can stroll beneath the beautiful trees and discover this little oasis cafe overlooking the park. Regularly full of young mums in active wear and their young bubs, Cowderoy's Dairy is a cafe meets old school milk bar. The little ones can choose from jars of mouth-watering cookies and lollies, while Mum or Dad picks up the milk and bread or stops in for a latte with friends.
Delicious Allpress coffee is on the grind, and the buttermilk pancakes with roasted pears, walnuts and mascarpone are so hard to go past. The little ones can enjoy a bowl of coco pops or some boiled eggs and soldiers. How good are soldiers? At 40 they are still the best!. Behind the wooden counter, sandwiches, frittatas, brownies and date scones are oh so tempting.
The warm wooden deck outside is the best place to sit and sip a coffee while the kids can run riot.
Matcha Mylkbar is a colourful vegan café located at 72 Acland Street. They serve bright-green burger buns, mushroom lattes and vegan eggs.
Made famous after it gained a significant Instagram following before opening. Matcha Mylkbar is known for its unusual menu items.
The egg white for the vegan eggs is made from agar-agar, a jelly-like substance derived from algae. It’s coloured by almond and coconut milk. The yolk is a soft puree made from sweet potato, coconut milk and linseed protein. The whole egg is then cooked in a sous vide bath and served with a sprinkling of matcha salt.
You can see so much matcha, a powdered green tea, throughout the menu. The mushroom latte is surprisingly not that mush roomy. It is worth a try if you have never had mushroom coffee before. It’s made with almond milk and sweetened with vanilla spice and agave. There’s only a subtle note of the chaga mushroom blend.
Alongside colourful bowls, fruit-topped for breakfast, or packed with grains and vegetables for lunch. There is pasta options and also a soy chicken burger which comes between almost neon green matcha buns.
The smoothie list really goes to town on the puns. Options include the Free the Nibs and the Wiz Kale-Leafa served in a skull-shaped glass.
Galleon Cafe is an amazing little cafe that’s been a local favourite for decades. An institution in St Kilda, Galleon Café is steeped in history and helped along by consistently good coffee, homely food and friendly service.
There is a laid-back energy that washes over you from the moment you walk through the door. Whether it’s the eclectic decor or the smiling staff, there is a feeling that you’ve stepped into a different place.
Established in the eighties with the flair of the fifties, lino-covered tables offset colourful murals and hand painted blinds in this eclectic space. Synonymous with the St Kilda of old, time has worn the Galleon down over the years, but the result is an interior that possesses an authentic feel of yesteryear.
There are always patrons sitting curbside on a sunny day at the Galleon, but it’s the weekends that are most busy. You might end up sharing a table, but you’ll likely be friends with your neighbour by the end of it. The menu is diverse and includes items such as a classic burger, scrambled tofu, pancakes and hot muffins, all of which are available throughout the day.
A decade after opening Gattica on Carlisle Street and then Hard Yak cafe in Hardware Lane, Sergio Grigor launched Garage Espresso to raving success.
The experienced barista’s certainly know their way around the coffee machine at Garage Espresso. Grinding Merlo beans all day long, the consistently crafted coffee is a standout.
The menu is made of fresh, seasonal and local food, with brands Woodfrog Bakery, Meredith goat’s cheese and Mount Zero pulses scattered throughout. Little ones are also well catered for too, with fun options such as melted cheese and Vegemite fingers and the ever popular egg soldiers.
Fresh pastries and cakes come steaming from the kitchen daily, and if you’re lucky you’ll visit Garage Espresso on the homemade cake and treat delivery day. They are next level fabulous. Chocolate, pear and hazelnut or bite-sized amaretti.
My mouth is watering just thinking of how delicious they are.
Harper’s Kitchen is a small cafe at 78 Inkerman Street. Harper’s is always a hive of activity with very friendly staff serving a handful of tables inside and out, as well as a long communal one down the middle.
Emphasis at Harper’s Kitchen is on having lots of fresh sandwiches and salads. Last time I was at Harper’s Kitchen, there was an amazing salad of brown rice, tuna, capers, beans and sumac, and an organic soba salad sitting alongside delicious looking baguettes and pides. There is also a generous and simple breakfast menu: eggs with the usual extras; avocado and ricotta on toast; porridge and the well-made coffee is Supreme. Bread from Port Melbourne’s Noisette tops off a cosy community cafe that clearly has local support for delicious so many reasons.
Located at 1414 Chapel Street, Hannah Café is lively in the morning and moody in the shaded afternoon light. Hannah serves its Proud Mary Coffee, breakfast and lunch classics against the sweet sounds of classic vinyl playing through the time machine record player. Its such a great place to get a coffee and relax with the vibrant and friendly staff and listen to some classic tunes. Having lived around the St Kilda area for 20 years, owner Jason Bates wanted to create a space that felt more like a second home than a cafe, complete with a few personal touches.
Hannah Café crafts a polished selection of breakfast and lunch classics with a few welcome twists. Who doesn’t like pink, peppered berries with your coconut pancakes, bursts of pomegranate in a bean-rich cassoulet, smoked trout instead of salmon, and octopus and purple congo potatoes in your salad?
Drawing in the locals with great coffee, food and a classy selection of classic tunes, Hannah is the perfect morning and afternoon hangout.