Hawthorn is full of surprises and has really blossomed into one of Melbourne’s suburban foodie hot spots. As a Hawthorn local, I love that so many quality Hawthorn restaurants are just a stone’s throw away. Glenferrie and Auburn Road are renowned as the heart of the action, but there are plenty of hidden pockets in this ever burgeoning suburb that deserve some extra attention. From a specialist coffee roastery on Burwood Road to hidden cafes on tree-lined streets, there is something in Hawthorn to satisfy the fussiest of taste buds.
Where to get a caffeine fix…
Axil Coffee Roasters on Burwood Road is the place to come for a quality brew. The cafe has a converted warehouse feel, filled with shiny polished concrete and breeze blocks. Its starkness is warmed up by a touch of greenery from a vertical garden lined with terracotta pot plants and a friendly smile on a Monday morning. Axil is not just a cafe – it doubles as a roastery and cupping/training facility. Owned by award-winning barista David Makin and his partner Zoe, these guys certainly know their stuff. There’s also a sumptuous all day breakfast menu to enjoy – my pick is the red velvet pancakes with cream cheese ganache, raspberries and black sesame ice cream.
Another great option for coffee is Liar Liar on leafy Kinkora Avenue. Here the coffee is strong, smooth and full-bodied – just how I like it. Initially opened by the crew behind Three Bags Full, this specialist coffee joint offers a wide range of blends and single origins. Unfortunately with all things good, comes crowds especially on the weekends when things can get a little crowded! The alfresco tables at the front are the perfect spot to soak up some morning sunshine. Or if you’re in a rush, take away a coffee and one of their freshly baked pastries before some shopping on Glenferrie Road.
Over in Hawthorn East, Lights in the Attic is one of the suburb’s newest cafes and coffee roasters. They pride themselves on fine foods, quality coffee and a relaxing atmosphere. The bright and airy cafe is the perfect spot to enjoy their own signature dark roasted blend by Atomica Coffee
Where to get a quality brunch…
After an early Sunday morning at the Camberwell market, stop by the stylish Porgie & Mr Jones and relax with a quality brunch. Here you can expect one of the best smashed avocado in Melbourne served with thyme buttered mushrooms and feta, organic noisette breads and delectable sweet treats. Porgie is full of cute nooks and crannies – you can soak up the sunshine under the ornamental pears in their cosy courtyard out back, or sit in one of their eclectic lounges or sunny front-window benches inside.
Across on Burwood Road is the lovely Green at St Columbs – a relatively new social enterprise cafe serving great quality coffee and food. The cafe, run by the Jesuit Social Services, offers work experience, mentoring and training for the long-term unemployed in the hospitality industry. The grounds are incredible, housing a beautiful bluestone church. On a sunny day, try to nab one of their outdoor tables on the green overlooking the church. The Green prides itself in only using organic, single source suppliers. What a great venture.
The new kid on the block is Bawa Cafe on Burwood Road, the latest project from the guys behind Barry, Pillar of Salt and Three Bags Full. Light and airy throughout, Bawa serves some great all day brunch options as well as Dukes coffee. My pick is the chia pudding – a picture perfect bowl of coconut, passionfruit, rosewater, mango, berries and pistachios. Perfect for summer!
What Finders Keepers doesn’t have in size, it makes up for in quality. This popular cafe on Riversdale Road has a great range of brunch goodies like chilli scrambled eggs, baked eggs and the rather famous ‘healthy wake up’ smashed avocado. They serve some of the best coffee in Hawthorn – by Veneziano.
Priding themselves on being a ‘free range cafe’ Muharam Cafe sure knows how to serve a mean breakfast. On the breakfast menu, there’s a rather lovely honey and cinnamon house made granola and a biiggggg breakfast with all the trimmings. The ultimate breakfast showstopper however is the red velvet pancakes teamed with cream cheese, strawberries, blueberries and a pot of decadent warm chocolate sauce. Need I say more? The cosy interior extends to a decked courtyard out the back, complete with a vertical herb garden.
And don’t forget Sardi Cafe on Church Street – a long term brunch favourite amongst Hawthorn locals. This neighbourhood cafe, almost resembles a milk bar on outside, but venture within and you’ll find a super cute cafe. The all day breakfast menu, is especially good for the health conscious with superfood infused concoctions like the acai smoothie and the superfood breakfast bowl.
Where to dine…
For something a little different on a Friday evening, try the ‘Friday Night Flights’ concept at Crabapple Kitchen where you can enjoy a holiday from the comfort of their own dining room. The travel inspired menu features small tastes from the most exciting food destinations around the globe. You could be foraging in Scandinavia one week and enjoying Spanish tapas the next. The five course menu is priced at a really reasonable $45 per head. If this isn’t your cup of tea, they also have a well executed breakfast and lunch menu that changes seasonally.
If Japanese is more your cup of tea, make a bee line to Izakaya Jiro. This no fuss Japanese restaurant is named after the owner and head chef who specialises in traditional and authentic Japanese dishes. The restaurant houses a Yakitori Sake bar and also the Yakiniku (do it yourself charcoal BBQ) upstairs! Don’t miss the house made gyoza (Japanese dumplings), wa fu steak and grilled hokkaido scallops.
Where to get a sweet fix…
The Counter on Auburn Road is a hot spot for Hawthorn locals. True to its name, their counter is always full of a tantalising array of freshly baked pastries, bread and salads. It’s almost impossible to sneak past the café’s window display without being tempted in by its gourmet goodies. Seats are limited inside but there is a cosy courtyard to retreat to at the rear. Pick up one of their take home packs for a relaxing night in if you can’t be bothered cooking.
Where to get a drink…
Look for the red star on Burwood Road and you will find one of Hawthorn’s most popular locals – Beer De Luxe. They offer an exceptional craft beer list from all around the world. If you’re feeling indecisive try one of their famous tasting paddles. Whether you’re after a beer or two in the bar, some old-fashioned pub grub in the dining area or a place to soak up the sunshine on the open air deck, Beer De Luxe is a good spot to come for all occasions.
Or try one of Hawthorn’s good ol’ local pubs like the Geebung Polo Club or the Glenferrie Hotel. The Nevermind Bar and Gibson’s Wine Bar is worth a detour too.