When it comes to weekend get-togethers, going out for breakfast is the new Sunday roast. With coffee culture at its heart, Sydney is spoiled for choice. Here are the best breakfast venues in the Harbour City.
Two things you should know about the eastern-Mediterranean brunch offering at Barzaari: one, the plates ooze with exotic cheeses and two, save room for “breakfast dessert”. The best way to approach the new Sunday brunch service at this Marrickville gem is to gather some friends and order big from the share-plate menu. Make sure to get the creamy labne studded with cumquats and pistachios with fresh pita for dipping and the rockmelon with cured pork and majdouleh, an Armenian cheese that looks a lot like wool. Co-owner Andrew Jordanou’s Cypriot father used to heat his coffee by covering it with hot sand; Jordanou uses a similar technique – burying his pewter cups and heating the sand over a gas flame – for a thick, Greek-style brew. It goes down a treat with the enormous baklava served with walnut ice-cream. One more thing to know? Set aside a few hours – this multi-course breakfast is a long, lazy affair.
65-69 Addison Road, Marrickville; (02) 9569 3161
The heartbeat of the Inner West, this café-cum-picklery is a favourite of many Sydneysiders (get there early to beat the queue). Run by husband-and-wife team James Grant and Alex Elliott-Howery, Cornersmith started with a small spot in Marrickville and has expanded to include a picklery up the road and another eatery in Annandale. With food that’s fresh, exhilarating, ethical and sustainable – and free of the heaviness of some “big breakfasts” – it’s changed the way we think about fuelling our bodies at the start of the day. Local small-scale makers and growers supply many of the goods for a menu that changes regularly and is second to none. Spicy eggplant and heirloom tomato combine with ricotta on sourdough. Labne and honey smother new-season figs. The ploughman’s plate features corned beef, pickled egg, cheddar and apple chutney. And the apple and watercress salad quells the rich duck-liver parfait. Smashing!
314 Illawarra Road, Marrickville; (02) 8065 0844
The Grounds of Alexandria
A family favourite thanks to resident animals Kevin Bacon and Goldy Horn, The Grounds of Alexandria has a paddock-to-plate philosophy that means much of the produce is grown in the adjoining gardens or served fresh from the in-house bakery. Light bites include seasonal fruits and toast with homemade jams or go the whole hog (sorry, Kevin) with the Chef’s Brekkie Pan.
7A, 2 Huntley Street, Alexandria; (02) 9699 2225
Three Blue Ducks
They did it at Bronte then took Byron Bay by storm. And those charming young ducks are at it again: in 2016, the five co-owners joined former MasterChef winner Andy Allen to open Three Blue Ducks in what was the Kitchen by Mike warehouse space in Rosebery. They’re not trying to challenge the gastronomic world but their mission is to raise the standard of everyday eats – and they’re knocking it out of the park. With outdoor seating, communal tables, the attached homeware store Koskela and food kissed by a big old wood-fired oven, what more do you need to kick off the day? Try the hay-smoked salmon kedgeree with slow-cooked egg; the vegetarian breakfast poké of avocado, kimchi and seaweed; or the stack of corn fritters crowned with guacamole.
1/85 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery; (02) 9389 0010
Image: Nikki To
Bread & Circus
With people knocking elbows at long wooden tables, the communal vibe at Bread & Circus is front and centre. The menu – which changes daily – has a focus on vegetarian and vegan options. The Foxy Autumn Porridge, with caramelised banana, toasted coconut, blueberry, pistachio and a dollop of organic clotted cream, might just be enough to sway the unconverted.
21 Fountain Street, Alexandria; 0418 214 425
By night, this slender, rowdy bistro with exposed brick and elbow-to-elbow seating is the seafood restaurant we’ve been yearning for. The just-out-of-the-water fish is cooked with care and accompanied by a few ingredients that let the hero of the dish shine. But as much as we adore dinner at Saint Peter, the brunches have reached cult status (so make a booking). Guided by the same ethos, Josh Niland shows why he’s one of Australia’s best seafood chefs. Pambula sea urchin arrives with housemade crumpets. Small, sweet Kinkawooka Shellfish mussels are served in an omelette. Tasmanian octopus head is given the Scotch-egg treatment. And a soft-boiled egg and spinach-like fat hen greens sidle up to salt-baked Petuna ocean trout. A stunning start to the day.
362 Oxford Street, Paddington; (02) 8937 2530
The Boathouse Balmoral Beach
Capitalising on its sun-drenched harbourside surroundings on the lower North Shore, The Boathouse Balmoral Beach is the place for a laid-back but stylish breakfast experience, topped off with a cup of Sydney’s best coffee – a unique blend created by the team (yep) of baristas. The modern menu stars green (pesto!) eggs and ham, as well as buttermilk scones with jam, cream and fresh strawberries.
2 The Esplanade, Balmoral Beach; (02) 9974 5440
No suburb does “chilled’” quite like Bondi Beach – and the longstanding Brown Sugar is quintessentially so. Go early to beat the rush for the chia, quinoa and coconut Bircher muesli or the vegie blackstone breakfast with English muffin, mushrooms, tomatoes, poached eggs and hash browns. There’s also a menu for the smaller members of the family.
106 Curlewis Street, Bondi; (02) 9130 1566
Kepos & Co.
Middle Eastern flavour is on the brunch menu at the smart Danks Street Casba development in the inner suburbs. Try the poached eggs with warm hummus, burnt butter and taboon bread or the labne, honey and cinnamon milkshake with a signature churro. Brunch is served on weekends only, so if you're looking for a delectable feed during the week, head to sister café Kepos Street Kitchen. You won't be disappointed.
5/18 Danks Street, Waterloo; (02) 9690 0931
Brickfields is an artisan bakery that produces exceptional breads, cakes and pastries that you can sample in the café. Wash down a humble bacon sandwich or an almond croissant with your coffee and you have one of Sydney’s best inner-city breakfasts. The traffic may be nonstop and noisy but no-one seems to care.
206 Cleveland Street, Chippendale; (02) 9698 7880
Image: Saskia Wilson
West Juliett attracts weekend queues for its simple, rustic food and home-baked goodies. While you turn around the haloumi egg roll with wilted greens and chilli marmalade aioli, junior can enjoy a boiled egg and soldiers. Tea-lovers will appreciate the strict steeping times.
30 Llewellyn Street, Marrickville; (02) 9519 0101
Bills Surry Hills
When everyone else was burning their toast at home, Bill Granger was serving his signature scrambled eggs and ricotta hotcakes to the early adopters – and his breakfasts are as popular as ever. The Hendrick’s breakfast martini with gin, marmalade and lemon will knock away any cobwebs.
359 Crown Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9360 4762
A huge warehouse space in inner-city Redfern means there’s plenty of room for groups and prams – and a great menu means there’s plenty of choice to keep you coming back. Try the Merchant (chilli fried egg with crispy bacon and pickled slaw on a warm brioche) for starters. Breakfast is served all day, every day.
613a Elizabeth Street, Redfern; (02) 9698 1111
What, no bacon? With a full breakfast of free-range eggs, roast mushroom, roast tomato, roast herb potato and homemade baked beans on organic sourdough, chances are meat-eaters won’t even notice it’s missing. This beachside café adored by vegetarians and their friends is vegan-friendly, too.
97 Gerrale Street, Cronulla; (02) 9523 7580
A combination of traditional Israeli food, European pastries and coffee makes Shenkin a must-stop in the search for Sydney’s best breakfast. Waffles and pancakes sit in harmony with burekas and labanne at this venue just down the road from popular Newtown. If you’ve worked up an appetite, order the Israeli Big Breakfast with avocado, salad, salmon and pita.
53 Erskineville Road, Erskineville; (02) 9550 5511
Lox Stock & Barrel
The food at Lox Stock & Barrel is Jewish-inspired and focuses on local, seasonal produce and balanced eating. Favourites include the zucchini omelette and avocado smash served with a side of the eponymous smoked lox. For those with a sweet tooth, the brioche French toast with rhubarb, raspberry compote, cinnamon and vanilla ice-cream should do the trick.
140 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi Beach; (02) 9300 0368
Serving breakfast from 8am to 3pm, Café Mint has a strong Moroccan bias and people come from miles around for the breakfast couscous with poached dry-fruit compote, honey yoghurt, pistachio and hot milk.
579 Crown Street, Surry Hills; (02) 9319 0848
Cafe Oratnek is the first solo venture of Kenny Takayama, former head chef at Bills Darlinghurst, is hidden behind the gates of a little terrace house close to Prince Alfred Park. The eclectic range of “On Toast” options includes coconut poached chicken with house chilli jam, cucumber and coriander. Eggs optional.
4 Pitt Street, Redfern; (02) 8394 9550
Fika Swedish Kitchen
If you could do a breakfast crawl, Manly would be a good place to start. The highlights are many but Fika offers something different. Its airy Scandi space provides the perfect surroundings for Nordic delights such as toast skagen: prawn, dill and lemon mayo with avocado on sourdough. Låt oss äta!
5b Market Lane, Manly; (02) 9976 5099
Top image: Three Blue Ducks