Australia’s cool little capital has established itself as a real café society so we were hard-pressed to pick our 10 favourites. Nevertheless, we persisted: these are the top choices. By Diane Streak. 

Local Press Cafe

Stripped-back wooden tables and floral cushions add charm to this lakeside health hub on the Kingston Foreshore, where vegans and carnivores are both amply catered for. The vegan fruit and nut waffle has a naughty touch with vegan Nutella, while the cheesy croque madame toastie embraces free-range ham from Boxgum Grazing.

81 Eastlake Parade, Kingston; (02) 6162 1422

Coffee Lab

With its corner location, large windows and hanging gardens suspended from wooden crates, this is a fun and affordable lunch stop with a good selection of meals for kids. Nothing like a golden oldie to set you up for the day: Pialligo bacon and eggs with a twist of spicy tomato jam and smidge of Swiss cheese on soft bun.

26 Narellan Place, Canberra; 0419 129 957

The Cupping Room

The Cupping Room keeps racking up the accolades for its uncompromising quality. Bespoke coffee blends, such as Black Betty and Raspberry Candy, fly out the door in fragrant, steaming cups. Prefer something cooler? Get your daily fix with an iced coffee, injected with liquid panela syrup.

1/1-13 University Avenue, Canberra


This inner-south brunch mecca goes above and beyond in the food department but it’s the eye-catching style – high ceilings, big wall murals, a log-lined coffee bar – that also keeps locals coming back for more. The must-order drink is the peanut butter smoothie, a creamy concoction of the nut butter, banana, dates and almond milk, and as for meals, take your pick from the shakshouka, rostis or a hearty breakfast burrito.

Shop 7, Deakin Court, Deakin; (02) 6162 2027

Penny University

This buzzing joint is an intriguing mix of students, business people and families, with seriously quirky décor – think anthropomorphised animal art. The sign above the entrance proclaims “This is where the magic happens!” and part of that magic is the wildly creative food that keeps customers guessing. There’s actual green eggs and ham (a pea-and-herb scrambled free-range eggs on chargrilled sourdough and doubled-smoked ham).

15 Kennedy Street, Kingston; (02) 6162 1500

Breizh Café

Crepe fans are spoilt for choice at Breizh with authentic French galettes made-to-order, crowned with a plethora of sweet or savoury toppings. For those sticking to the sugary side of life, there’s also a dazzling array of cakes and pastries. In a nod to its Breton roots, the café offers whiskeys from Brittany.

2/15 Edgar Street, Ainslie; (02) 6156 0346

Mocan & Green Grout

The menu may change as often as Canberra’s weather at Mocan & Green Grout but what doesn’t vary is the quality of the fair-trade coffee and inventive (always fresh) food. Where else have you seen an “afternoon” menu designed especially to keep post-lunch stomach grumbles at bay before a full dinner? Choose from nibbles such as oysters or olives, or a more substantial pickled mushroom parfait.

19 Marcus Clarke Street, New Acton; (02) 6162 2909

Gus’ Place

This sprawling, European-style downtown venue was a stalwart of Canberra’s café scene long before the cool factor hit the nation’s capital. A recent makeover has seen it come out swinging in a crowded café market as old fans and new converts mob the outdoor seating, lapping up on their lattes on a Saturday morning.

Shop 8 Garema Arcade, 68 Bunda Street, Canberra; (02) 6248 5729

Teddy Picker’s

Having plonked itself in the burgeoning Constitution Avenue area, which is in the midst of a building boom, Teddy’s is well placed to serve up its adventurous offerings to public servants and professionals snapping up the adjacent off-the-plan apartments. The interior is all sharp angles and soaring walls with a central cantilevered bookshelf carrying a combo of retro and quirky objects, while the all-day menu covers the necessary bases: eggs on toast, hotdogs, burger and parmi.

65 Constitution Avenue, Campbell; 0459 599 657

Top image: The Cupping Room 

SEE ALSO: Where to Brunch in Canberra





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