To make it to the top, a Hunter Valley cafe needs to be the kind of place that’s run by a brigade of talented next-generation young chefs and the industry legends that have mentored them. We’ve found just that.
Here in the Hunter, breakfast and lunch are regarded as two of the most important meals of the day. A shot of dark-roasted espresso brewed to order here. A vego breakfast board there. Or decadent lunch designed to help you power through your epicurean itinerary. Here’s our guide to the best cafes in the Hunter Valley for breakfast, brunch or lunch.
1. Bikesmith Espresso Bar
You will find a motley crew of MAMILs (Middle-aged men in Lycra) ogling the bike accessories over countless rounds of espresso at the Bikesmith Espresso Bar.
Get your daily brew fix at Bikesmith Espresso Bar. (Image: Destination NSW)
Coffee-loving bikepackers are also catered for with merch including everything from mini espresso machines and compact coffee grinders to grab-and-go cold brews. This bicycle shop and cafe is the absolute bomb for those who are passionate about indulging their love for both pursuits. Put some air in your tyres with a few sweet treats.
Bikesmith Espresso Bar was built for the love of coffee and cycling. (Image: Destination NSW)
2. Lovedale Smokehouse Cafe
Triple M listeners voted Lovedale Smokehouse Cafe ‘Best cafe in the Hunter Valley 2023’ and we’re all ears. The family-owned business is so pet-friendly it even has a dedicated menu for dogs. If you’re looking for a casual feed, the menu at the Lovedale Smokehouse features meats cooked low and slow over fire such as ribs, brisket and burgers.
Feast on ribs, brisket and burgers at Lovedale Smokehouse.
The casual cafe has a convivial atmosphere thanks to the crowds who roll in for a casual bite. Order a Philly cheesesteak burger for yourself and a doggy donut with a puppacino for your four-legged friend.
Dine al fresco at Lovedale Smokehouse.
3. Leaves & Fishes
Leaves & Fishes is a local institution. Sit in the bustling dining room, which is saturated in sunshine, and order Szechuan spiced chicken wings with pepper caramel or lightly battered fish with chips, tartare sauce and lemon.
Leaves & Fishes is a countryside eatery housed in an old boathouse. (Image: Nikki To)
Veg-loving locals also come here to lunch on the healthful salt-and-pepper-fried silken tofu with miso slaw and lighter salads, such as pineapple and cashew salad, that err on the side of fabulous. The rustic eatery is housed in an old boathouse on the site of a former fish farm. It overlooks what is now a pretty pond, making it one of the most popular family-friendly cafes in the Hunter Valley.
Explore the range of homewares for sale whilst enjoying a delicious meal. (Image: Nikki To)
4. Common Grounds
This cute little cafe in the main street of Morpeth is a must-stop. Located alongside the Hunter River, the cafe has literally got The Goods (a blend by Glee Coffee Roasters), which is served alongside daily specials such as sweet fruit-filled muffins and a knock-your-socks-off breakfast wrap with spicy chorizo, bacon, spinach and scrambled egg. Weighing in on the best breakfast in the Hunter Valley debate is fraught; but we stand by Common Grounds as a worthy addition to your list.
5. Muse Kitchen
Muse Kitchen remains one of the most talked-about cafes in the Hunter Valley. What matters at this modern bistro, open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner (only on Saturday nights), is that the ingredients are hyper-local and seasonal and speak for themselves.
Embrace chef Richmond Rodrigues’s keep-it-simple philosophy with a croque monsieur or avocado and green pea smash with haloumi and preserved lemon and poached eggs alongside a perfect piccolo using beans from Darks Coffee Roasters.
Pick a European bistro-style dish at Muse Kitchen. (Image: Nikki To)
6. Cafe Enzo
Do everything in your power to secure a booking at Cafe Enzo when you’re heading to the Hunter Valley. It’s one of the best Hunter Valley cafes for breakfast for a multitude of reasons.
Cafe Enzo is renowned for serving good coffee. (Image: MJK Creative)
For starters, the romance of the region is keenly felt in the courtyard, which has a magical Midsummer Night’s Dream vibe; it’s located within the confines of the ultra-charming Peppers Creek Village; and it has the most Instagram-ready artfully presented breakfast board on offer. Pamper yourself and book a stay in Enzo Cottage so you can bookend your day with a beautifully styled cheese platter.
Order a hearty brunch board at Cafe Enzo. (Image: MJK Creative)
7. Wholefoods Market & Cafe
Balance out all those hedonistic Hunter experiences with breakfast at The Wholefoods Market & Cafe in Maitland, which has been a beacon for devotees of organic produce since it was established in 1997. There are endless diversions on offer here, from the fermentation classes at the Inner Health Centre to the display cabinet filled with biodynamic Urban Mill baked goods. Stay focused on your baked egg shakshuka and then fill your eco bag with organic produce and artisan goods.
Stock up on fresh produce and organic products at Wholefoods Market & Cafe.
8. The Breakfast Room at The Mill
Why visit Hunter Valley wine country for just one day when you can spend a few nights? You can eat and sleep at Estate Tuscany or just belly up off your own bat to The Breakfast Room at The Mill, where executive chef William Townsend has curated a menu designed to make that first meal of the day a special one.
Start your day right at The Breakfast Room at The Mill.
Go the whole hog and order the Tuscan breakfast of grilled bacon, pork chipolata, wilted spinach, slow-roasted Roma tomatoes, Estate baked beans, butter-poached mushrooms, sourdough and hash brown.
9. The Deck Cafe
Locavores will love The Deck Cafe, tucked away amid a tangled knot of forest bushland overlooking a dinky little dam in Lovedale. Expect to find seasonal delicacies on the breakfast menu here alongside coffee using Piazza D’oro beans. Half the fun of a visit here in the early morning is watching the sun rake through the trees and listening to the birdsong.
The success of this cafe has a lot to do with chef Matt Dillow’s attention to sourcing quality ingredients. Keep it simple and order French toast with fresh strawberries and Chantilly cream and maple syrup or one of the all-day brekkie options such as a B&E roll.
The Deck Cafe is situated beside a little dam in Lovedale.
10. Worn Out Wares
The Wow Flower family is behind Worn Out Wares, a cafe that is a colourful blend of flowers, coffee, food and a carefully curated range of bags, baskets, books, candles, chocolates, cake and beautifully bespoke bundles for everyone from bubs to blokes.
Stop by Worn Out Wares for artisan-made gifts and a meal. (Image: Nikki To)
Whether you’re a budding botanist, a flower-lover, a caff-fiend or simply in need of some serious retail therapy, Worn Out Wares is the place to go to ooh and ahh. Although the family-owned store has been a stalwart in Singleton for almost two decades, it has evolved over time to include almond milk turmeric lattes alongside crumpets with passionfruit curd.
Worn Out Wares offers a tranquil spot to enjoy a coffee. (Image: Nikki To)
11. Mr O Kitchen Espresso & Grocer
Mr O is the go for coffee by Glee Coffee Roasters and an all-day breakfast menu with options such as loaded bagels with peanut butter and banana, a Hungerford ham toastie and a guilt-free brekkie bowl. You will find local creatives consorting in the cafe, which has played a central role in the invigoration of Cessnock’s eat street. The latte art is next level, as is the fact you can pick up some healthy organic snacks for the drive back home. Closed on weekends.
12. The Conservatory
The joy of settling in for a long, lazy breakfast at The Conservatory at voco Kirkton Park Hunter Valley cannot be underestimated. The light-filled dining room at this atmospheric IHG hotel leans into the Australian countryside and the entire menu is typically inspired by ingredients that can be sourced within a 50-kilometre radius.
The Conservatory is famous for its refined breakfast offering and high tea.
The breakfast buffet here is a civilised affair: sit at a table close indoors to enjoy the best of the hot and cold options from the menu while drinking in views of the rose garden and craggy spine of the Broken Back Range.
The elegant dining space at The Conservatory.
13. The Icky Sticky Patisserie
We will never reach peak profiterole, which the pâtissiers at The Icky Sticky Patisserie are all too aware. This lovely Lorn patisserie draws crowds on their way to the Hunter Valley for signature baked treats such as the pistachio tarts loaded with raspberries and white chocolate or the pretty passionfruit meringues.
Complete your picnic with baked treats from The Icky Sticky Patisserie. (Image: Maitland City Council)
The counter at this popular patisserie is filled with pastries that have been coiled and laminated into crisp pastry treats that are puffed in the oven and glazed until golden. The Icky Sticky Patisserie is only open Monday to Friday between 7.30am and 2pm.
Don’t forget to try Icky Sticky’s signature coffee. (Image: Destination NSW)
14. Garden Terrace Cafe at Hunter Valley Gardens
The Hunter Valley Gardens has been used as a muse for the casual Garden Terrace Cafe, which celebrates its leafy outlook over the Oriental Garden, one of the prettiest pockets within the 14-hectare grounds.
Visit Hunter Valley Gardens for a weekend away.
Feast on the sensuous pleasures of the manicured Hunter Valley Gardens, which continue to capture the imagination of landscapers and green thumbs from around the land. The Garden Terrace Cafe is a top spot for morning tea or lunch in Hunter Valley Wine Country.
The Garden Terrace Cafe is a serene spot to start or end the day.
15. Cocoa Nib
Cocoa Nib is, hands down, one of the best places for a cup of tea or coffee in the Hunter Valley. This is in part due to the fact you can pair a hot beverage with award-winning hand-crafted chocolates from this outlet at Keith Tulloch Winery in Pokolbin.
Grab yourself a cup of coffee at Cocoa Nib. (Image: Destination NSW)
The coffee blend of choice here is one sourced from Silverskins Coffee, a micro roastery based in nearby Newcastle. Order a cappuccino at Cocoa Nib and it will arrive showered with shavings of 60 per cent dark chocolate made from renowned French chocolate Weiss. The hot chocolates here are next level, obviously.
Get a bonbon box of colourful artisan chocolates to take away. (Image: Destination NSW)
Find a tranquil spot on the sun-splashed terrace at Emerson’s Restaurant to enjoy a nourishing plate of smashed avo on toasted ciabatta with roasted mix seeds and Binnorie labna.
Consume a healthy salad plate at Emerson’s. (Image: Destination NSW)
This humble Hunter Valley eatery is always buzzing with visitors who are about to launch into their day bouncing between cellar doors. The Lovedale cafe looks out over the Adina Vineyard property, which is pure Hunter Valley.
Find a tranquil spot on the sun-splashed terrace at Emerson’s Restaurant. (Image: Destination NSW)
Pancakes with berry compote, honeycomb and Chantilly cream is another consistently good option for breakfast in the Hunter Valley.