Here is just a taste of the variety of cafes serving great coffee and breakfast across the nation’s capital.
If you want…Breakfast and brunch
Rye Café, Braddon: Sit inside the cool, Scandi-inspired space or grab a table on the terrace and settle in for some people watching over Five Senses coffee, chai, tea or the gunfire: a long black with rum. Expect sophisticated takes on standards such as bircher muesli and baked eggs, plus Nordic flavours including smorrebrod open sandwiches.
The Cupping Room, City: This coffee hotspot keeps racking up the accolades for its uncompromising quality. Headed by world champion barista Sasa Sestic, The Cupping Room is synonymous with caffeine best practice and offers all-day breakfasts and exotic brunches with vegan and gluten-free options. Try its coffee blends or selection of reserve teas.
Local Press Café, Kingston: Build your breakfast with ingredients such as avocado, bacon and cured salmon at this lakeside health hub. Or try its seasonal dishes, such as the beetroot and caraway loaf with asparagus, brussels sprouts, vegan cheese, hazelnuts and cashew crumble. Juices are freshly pressed and served in recyclable bottles by staff as cheerful as the colourful knitted tea cosies.
Silo Bakery and Cafe, Kingston: This favourite draws a crowd so be prepared to wait for a table. If you're taking away, peruse the selection of baked goods in the glass cabinet. Eating in? Breakfast highlights include welsh rarebit and pumpkin doughnuts with berry compote and chocolate mascarpone.
If you want…A caffeine hit
ONA Coffee House, Fyshwick: The original café by Canberra’s beloved brand is also its roast house. Sit inside by the open kitchen or outside beneath the colourful graffiti mural. Try a specialty brew and order the bacon and egg roll, eggs and toast your way or a daily special. The kids’ menu includes waffles and toasties.
Kyo Coffee Project, Braddon: Coffee fanatics will love the pour-over brews but the espresso and milk classics are exceptional, too. In the courtyard of an architect-designed complex, this hip café has an Asian-inspired menu that includes a kimchi toastie and bento breakfast.
Barrio Collective, Braddon: It’s more than a hole in the wall, less than a standard café but the coffee here is just right. Perch on one of the stools and enjoy a seasonal blend with house-made nut milk. More of a tea aficionado? There’s plenty for you, too, including a chaga chai.
Coffee Lab, City: If you need a mid-shopping pick-me-up, this Canberra Centre café is the goods. As well as making a mean latte, it offers all-day breakfast and a kids’ menu designed by someone who gets young tastebuds. For a serious kick, try the cold brew by Canberra’s coffee specialists, Bellerophon.
If you want…Lunch
Pollen Cafe, Acton: Nestled in the Australian National Botanic Gardens on the lower slopes of Black Mountain, Pollen is for lunching outdoors. Grab a table on the café’s deck and take in the birdsong while perusing the menu, which includes dishes such as poke bowls, chicken chimichanga and pumpkin and rosemary fritters. The kids will love the battered fish bites with chips and mini pancakes with maple syrup.
Bookplate, Parkes: One for the bibliophiles – this eatery, set inside the National Library of Australia, offers a satisfying spin on café fare. Choose from options including a gourmet Wagyu burger, pulled pork tacos or a salad of roast pumpkin and grilled zucchini. Book an inside table to admire the stained-glass windows or request a seat on the terrace in warmer months.
Morning Glory, NewActon: This is Asian fusion at its best. Delivered by the XO crew (see page 48), Morning Glory offers a menu that mixes flavours with superb results – think Hainanese chicken with roti, salsa, avocado and chilli relish.
Poachers Pantry, Springrange: Want to try kangaroo prosciutto? Just 30 minutes from the CBD, you'll find a range of smoked goods available to purchase from the farm shop. For an indulgent experience, visit the restaurant from Thursday to Sunday and tuck into the tasting-menu lunch.
If you want…Family-friendly dining
Brodburger, Kingston, Dickson & Fyshwick: This burger joint actually encourages diners to skip the queue. Simply order online and time your arrival at one of three locations at Canberra Glassworks, Coop at Soho or Capital Brewing Co for when your meal's ready to go. The menu has something for everyone, from the meaty Deluxe to the OMV (Oh My Vegan) and mini options, too.
Sammy’s Kitchen, City: If you need proof that Sammy’s Kitchen consistently churns out delicious fare, just check out the crowds. The restaurant's extensive Chinese and Malaysian menu ensures this place is always buzzing with diners. Nosh on hawker-style noodles and kampong curries or choose from the chef’s favourites, including Mongolian fillet steak or Shantung chicken.
Snapper on the Lake, Yarralumla: Nestled beneath the Canberra Southern Cross Yacht Club on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin is a fish and chip shop that serves up spectacular lake views. Nab an outdoor table or set up a picnic blanket on the grass under the trees and relax with a box of crumbed, battered or grilled fish and chips. Salads and chicken burgers are also available.
Dickson Dumpling House, Dickson: The menu is huge, so buy yourself some time and start by ordering da bao for the kids (it’s a steamed pork bun that is easily shareable) then find a dish for even the fussiest member of your troupe. With over 150 options, everyone will go home happy.
If you want…A sugar fix
Doughnut Department, City: There are doughnuts and then there are doughnuts. The hand-cut offerings here are big enough to share and come in a rotating variety of flavours that are always inventive, including lime and mint glaze, dulce de leche with toasted almonds and matcha mascarpone
Space Kitchen, Phillip: On weekends, you may find the surrounding streets to be a little quiet. But step inside and you’ll find a café that's buzzing. Patrons crowd around the counter to choose from confections so over the top, even sugar fiends meet their match.
Sweet Bones, Braddon: It’s Canberra’s go-to place for deliciously sweet vegan delights. Get here early to grab a cinnamon scroll and coffee to go or settle in for a blueberry pancake stack with organic maple syrup and house-made coconut cream. Don’t leave without bagging a couple of cake pops for the road.
Frugii Dessert Laboratory, Braddon: Indulge in artisanal gelato, sorbet or fancy ice-cream on a stick at this minimalist, industrial spot. Flavours are as exotic as cardamom and frankincense but salted caramel is the firm favourite. Claim a seat at the shared table and warm back up with Toby’s Estate coffee.