While road-trippers might have once passed through Newcastle on their way to enjoy lunch in the Hunter Valley, the city is now seen as a vibrant food and drinks hub in its own right.
Whether you’re trying to impress a first Tinder date, catching up with an old school friend or buying lunch for the kids just steps away from the beach, there are cafes serving everything from artisanal coffee to avo on toast that are worth ducking into. After hitting the beach, here are some of the best cafes in Newcastle.
Best for coffee
The caffeine culture in Newcastle is strong and the third-wave coffee revolution has well and truly swept the city. If you want to mix it up a bit and try a different place for coffee each day of your Newcastle stay, take your pick between Good Brother Espresso Shop and Xtraction Espresso in Newcastle East, Darks Coffee Roasters, a bolthole in Broadmeadow, Praise Joe in Tighes Hill and Corner Lane Espresso in New Lambton.
Best for breakfast
Linger over a sit-down breakfast of French toast or fritters at Vincents at the Coliseum, which is located in the heritage-listed 1920s’ Coliseum, home to Newcastle’s largest antique centre. Grab a Buddha Bowl from Mockingbird, which attracts a clean-living boho crowd to the hip strip that is Beaumont St, and the atmospheric Talulah Bar where the classic breakfast roll – a Newcastle essential – with thick-cut bacon, and a fried organic egg, has somewhat of a cult following. Most Sundays, you can pick up wholefoods from Newcastle City Farmers’ Market and build your own breakfast picnic.
Best for brunch
Simple done well is the Blue Door Kiosk mantra. Located on Merewether Beach, Blue Door Kiosk has an all-day menu as long as your arm. We recommend busting out a few laps at Merewether Ocean Baths before tucking into the Byron Bowl, a Blue Door take on eggs Benny. You can also go nuts and order the big breakfast at East End Hub, a short walk away from the surf at Newcastle Beach. For an authentic slice of Novocastrian life, visit the artfully scuffed The Autumn Rooms for veggie-forward dishes such as brekkie greens.
Best for lunch
The Signal Box is a sleek, chic eatery housed in a 19th century building that was part of Newcastle Railway Station. Enjoy crispy Pukara Estate lamb ribs and a glass of Hunter Semillon for lunch at the cafe and restaurant overlooking the newly developed Market St Lawn precinct. For a taste of Tokyo, hire an electric bike and head to Susuru, Newcastle’s first ramen and gyoza café. The Three Monkeys is another neighbourhood fixture known for its food and fire-engine-red façade. You must also block out some time to crack open a few cervezas to enjoy with fish tacos at Antojitos (which means ‘little cravings’), a Californian-style taqueria housed in a converted Chinese fruit shop.
Best for views + vibes
Walk-ins are welcome at Merewether Surf House, occupying prime real estate on Merewether Beach. Head to the café for ‘the swim club sandwich and chips’ which you can enjoy at a leisurely pace on the promenade after you’ve churned out a couple of Ks in the pool. Nobody will bat an eyelid if you’re coated in sand when you order lunch at Estabar opposite Newcastle Beach. The Edwards (once a laundrette) and now a café by day and bar by night, is run by Chris Joannou (ex-Silverchair) so expect rock ’n’ roll vibes. The laundrette’s original iron presses and washing machine drums are featured in the fit-out.
Best cafes for cake and bread
The acclaimed patisserie, Covered in Crumbs, in Mayfield, stocks just-baked breads and pastries. Canvas the display cabinet in the cafe, housed in an old Art Deco building, and then order the biggest slice of bundt cake you can handle. Lovers of good sourdough should also sniff out Baked Uprising, tucked away in a converted mechanic’s warehouse in Maryville, where the bread is fermented to perfection over three days. Pekárna (meaning bakery in Czech) is the place to go for baked European treats.
Best for fish and chips
The Kiosk Newcastle Beach specialises in toasties, bowls, burgers and fish and chips. Embrace the laidback Newcastle Beach vibes and partake in a Kiosk classic: beer-battered fish and chips with a lemon wedge and tartare sauce. Mayfield Canteen is a modern take on an old-school milk bar and has some of the best takeaway food in town. Order the crumbed fish burger with chips on the side. And order fresh local flathead to enjoy with marina views at Shipyard Café & Takeaway in the prestigious Honeysuckle precinct.
For more great travel tips and itineraries read our Ultimate guide to Newcastle holidays.