While road-trippers might have once passed through Newcastle on their way to wine and dine 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 date, catching up with an old school friend or buying lunch for the kids just steps away from one of the many glorious beaches in Newcastle, there are cafes serving everything from artisanal coffee to smashed avo on toast that are worth ducking into. Here is where to go when you’re on the hunt for the best cafes in Newcastle.
1. Good Brother Espresso Shop
Best for: Asian-style pancakes with rocket, tofu, pickles, avocado, vegan mayo and miso dressing.
The caffeine culture in Newcastle is strong. And the third-wave coffee revolution has well and truly swept the city. You could mix it up a bit and try a different place for coffee each day, but you can also live like a local and make cameos at Good Brother Espresso Shop. The tangerine-tinted cafe has exposed brickwork, pendant lighting, and seating inside and out. Break out your Doc Martens; the cafe is in Newy East, where all the cool kids live.
Address: 40 King St, Newcastle
2. Xtraction Espresso
Best for: Coffee and bagels stuffed with salmon, dill and capers.
There’s a fraction too much extraction going on here. But that’s the name of the game. Get the Craver app so you can grab your latte to go from Xtraction Espresso where you will generally find customers snaking out the door. Like the city itself, Xtraction is an industrial-chic space with original flooring from its previous incarnation as a butcher shop. It’s got a lot of character. Beans are from Veneziano Coffee Roasters in Richmond.
Address: On the corner of Bolton and King St, Newcastle
3. Darks Coffee Roasters
Best for: Signature toasties such as the Cuban, with pulled pork, ham, pickles, mustard and cheese.
The team behind this bolthole in Broadmeadow are Newcastle’s most awarded coffee roasters. As well as supplying a lot of cafes with beans, the crew at Darks Coffee Roasters crew also run barista courses on the dark arts teaching its cafe partners how to steam milk and draw little frothy patterns in the foam.
Serious coffee fiends should hot-tail it to The Darks Container.
Into decaf? Don’t bother the baristas at Darks Coffee Roasters. Go to a Starbucks instead. But do head here if you are looking to find one of the most perfect cups of coffee in Newcastle.
Address: In the McDonald Jones Stadium car park, 294 Turton Rd, New Lambton
4. Praise Joe
Best for: The iconic pistachio cake.
Thank the deities for Praise Joe in Tighes Hill a local cafe run by Hayley Sinkinson and her partner Phillip Gameson. The couple both deserve a shout-out because they make you feel like royalty. Maybe that’s because Phillip cooked for the late Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle and Hayley worked for the prince of pâtissier Adriano Zumbo. Let that sink in for a hot minute. And then leg it to the cafe for toasted sangas.
Snag a spot at Praise Joe for a seriously good feed. (Image: David Griffen Photography)
Address: 8/20 Elizabeth St, Tighes Hill
5. Corner Lane Espresso
Best for: A Portuguese tart and piccolo.
This humble little cafe stays true to its core: selling great coffee from the 1963 Faema president lever machine. Ask locals to spill the beans on the best place for coffee in Newcastle and chances are they will send you to Corner Lane Espresso in New Lambton. It’s one of the best places to go to siphon up espressos made using small-batch beans. The cafe has also sprouted offshoots in Adamstown and Orchardtown Road, and has its own roastery.
Corner Lane Espresso is a local haunt for one very good reason: the coffee. (Image: Hunter Hunter)
Address: 1/15 Alma Road, New Lambton
Best for: Grabbing a smoothie and a Buddha bowl post-surf.
A mockingbird is named for its ability to speak multiple languages – and the Mockingbird cafe communicates across the linguistic divide through the language of food. Sporting a fresh mullet? Rock it down to Beaumont St where you will find a clean-living boho crowd convening on the hip strip. The cafe is also a local favourite for its low food miles and classic canteen-style decor. Linger over a sit-down breakfast of French toast or have a peck at some corn fritters.
Address: 131 Beaumont St, Hamilton
Best for: Pig out on the classic breakfast roll – a Newcastle essential – with thick-cut Darby St bacon.
Newcastle, it’s your time to shine. Talulah epitomises everything that makes Newcastle great: it’s informal, it’s dynamic, it feels like home. The cafe is a local favourite for its walls covered in an eclectic array of artworks that it sells minus a commission. Talulah stays true to classic specialty coffee techniques and is a triumphant story about an idea for a community hub that percolated into a reality. Great place to get up to speed with the local gossip.
Address: 52 Glebe Road, The Junction
8. Blue Door Kiosk
Best for: Dreaming of Bali over a nasi goreng.
Simple done well is the Blue Door Kiosk mantra. The cafe has an all-day menu as long as your arm from its venue at Merewether Beach. We recommend busting out a few laps at Merewether Ocean Baths – it’s one of the best things to do in Newcastle – before tucking into the Byron Bowl, the Blue Door take on eggs Benny slaps. The brand also has venues in Honeysuckle and Hamilton.
Address: Cnr Watkins St & John Parade, Merewether
9. The Autumn Rooms
Best for: Although it’s named for autumn, the menu changes with the seasons. The chicken burger is hard to beat.
Enjoy scrumptious seasonal fare at The Autumn Rooms. (Image: Sophie Tyler Photography)
For an authentic slice of Novocastrian life, visit The Autumn Rooms, an artfully scuffed cafe with veggie-forward dishes such as the iconic brekkie greens. The cafe is one of the most darling cafes on Derby St. And it’s our go-to for getting a noisy slice of Newcastle life.
Indulge in a decadent treat from the menu. (Image: Sophie Tyler Photography)
Join shaggy-haired surfers and coffee tourists riffing around rustic tables and ordering coffee that is served in dozens of different ways. There is also a sister cafe in Stockton.
Settle into a cosy nook inside The Autumn Rooms. (Image: Sophie Tyler Photography)
Address: 127 Darby St, Cooks Hill
10. Ms Mary
Best for: The Ms Mary High Tea (available Friday to Sunday), which the lady herself would have loved as a great excuse for a catch-up.
Ms Mary on the ground floor of Crystalbrook Kingsley was named in honour of one of Newcastle’s pioneering early settlers from the early 1800s. Like Ms Mary, the café is social and warm, embracing the region’s artisans and farmers.
Delight in drool-worthy meals at Ms Mary. (Image: David Griffen Photography)
Dress up and bring your hot date to the café, which evolves throughout the day from a morning meeting spot to a place for a lunch date and TGIF chill.
Address: Level 9/282 King St, Newcastle
Best for: The classic toastie with free-range ham, kassoundi, cheese, poached eggs.
Nobody will bat an eyelid if you’re coated in sand when you order lunch at Estabar opposite Newcastle Beach. Build on your surf buzz drinking in the salty air and ocean views on the esplanade overlooking Newcastle Beach.
You will want to make friends with the impossibly cool staff, who always have great recommendations up their sleeves. On a hot sunny day, order a kombucha brewed from the fruits grown at nearby Pillidge Farm Maitland. It’s practically heresy not to order a toastie.
Head to this beachfront cafe for seriously refreshing housemade kombucha. (Image: Destination NSW)
Address: 61 Shortland Esplanade
12. Goodfriends Eatery
Best for: Pork bahn mi
Goodfriends Eatery has a beautiful, earthy interior fitted out with floral arrangements of dried ferns, cotton stems and pampas grass that creates an oasis in which to escape. Its menu is mostly plant-based and packed with fresh, seasonal ingredients. Salads are popular, as well as an array of in-house baked goodies. Head in early to get your hands on muffins, croissants, banana bread, and one of the cafe’s famous scones. The coffee is just as good as the food, with Seven Miles Coffee Roaster supplying the beans for the brew. Stop by on a weekend to take advantage of the cafe’s bottomless batch brew offer for all the caffeine you can handle in one sitting.
Address: 144 Union St, Newcastle
13. The Signal Box
Best for: Slow-roasted Pukara lamb shoulder pappardelle with Mother Fungus mushrooms.
Enjoy hearty meals at The Signal Box. (Image: Destination NSW)
The Signal Box is a sleek, chic eatery housed in a 19th-century building that was part of Newcastle Railway Station, which has powered the city in one way or another since its inception.
The Signal Box used to be part of Newcastle Railway Station. (Image: Megann Evans)
The iconic spot also brings people together for the month-long celebration of Good Food Month which chronicles the creativity of the city’s restaurateurs, bakers, baristas, brewers, winemakers and chefs.
Sit down for brunch at The Signal Box.
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.
Dine at The Signal Box. (Image: Destination NSW)
Address: 155 Wharf Rd, Newcastle
Best for: Fried chicken ramen and wagyu cheese gyoza.
Get your fill of Japanese comfort food at Susuru.
Hire an electric bike and head to Newcastle’s first ramen and gyoza cafe for a taste of Tokyo in this lively place with Japanese graphics and a metro aesthetic. Owner Taiyo Namba has Japanese heritage and Susuru puts two of Japan’s favourite comfort foods in the spotlight: ramen and gyoza.
Soak up the good vibes inside this open and airy space.
Susuru means ‘slurp’ in Japanese and Taiyo says slurping the broth is key to enjoying ramen. The gyoza are also handmade by Taiyo’s mum who turns out hundreds of the dumplings per day.
Address: 140 King St, Newcastle
15. The Three Monkeys
Best for: A porkie pig toastie or Moroccan eggs.
The Three Monkeys is another neighbourhood fixture known for its coffee, food and fire-engine-red façade. It’s one of the OG cafes to shake things up in Newcastle. And it’s like a portal into a hipster’s world. The cafe takes up most of the square footage of an old terrace with a dinky courtyard out back and tables on the pavement for people-watching. More than two decades after opening, the cafe has retained its unflappable cool and is a leader in spreading the gospel about good coffee and good vibes.
Address: Darby St, Cooks Hill
Best for: Tacos de pollo topped with tomatillo salsa, salsa de aguacate, pickled onion and pico de gallo.
Block out some time to crack open a few cervezas to enjoy with fish tacos at Antojitos (which means ‘little cravings’). The Californian-style taqueria is housed in a converted Chinese fruit shop and it’s where to go to hunt down carnitas, pollo asado, and Baja-style fish tacos. Wander past and you will be lured by the aroma of garlic and chilli. The restaurant is co-owned by Eric Flores who grew up eating Mexican-American street food in Northern California. What began as a casual market stall has now morphed into a warehouse-sized restaurant inspired by the mercados in Mexico.
Address: 11 Steel Street, Newcastle West
17. Merewether Surf House
Best for: Kingfish crudo and market fish with braised leek and cauliflower puree.
Walk-ins are welcome at Merewether Surf House, occupying prime real estate on Merewether Beach. Head to the cafe 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.
Settle in for a long, leisurely lunch by the ocean.
The family-friendly beach bar offers 270-degree views and is a multi-faceted space that includes a low-key kiosk, beach bar and restaurant. The restaurant, Italian, is on the top level and boasts panoramic views over the beach and headland beyond.
Beach views from Merewether Surf House.
Address: 5 Henderson Parade, Merewether
18. The Edwards
Best for: The Eddie’s cheeseburger and chips.
The Edwards (once a laundrette) and now a cafe 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. It’s open all week for lunch and dinner and hums with a kind of 90s grunge energy.
It’s a spirited institution that lures a diverse range of locals. Some come to gossip, others to make friends, drink Akasha Brewing Co. beers, dance to live music or just be part of the #westend buzz. Oh, and The Edwards is also one of the best places in Newcastle for a beer, a burger and a boogie.
The good-time vibes are as good as the food at The Edwards.
Address: 148 Parry St, Newcastle West
Best for: An Uprising sarnie stuffed with poached chicken, pesto and slaw.
The acclaimed bakery Uprising stocks just-baked breads and pastries. Canvas the display cabinet in the cafe and then order a beef, stout and onion pie; it’s one of the best in the country.
It’s all about the carbs at Baked Uprising. (Image: Tyson Mayr)
Lovers of good sourdough should use their loaf and pick up some sourdough from Baked Uprising, tucked away in a converted mechanic’s warehouse in Maryville, where the bread is fermented to perfection over three days. The bakery also has an outlet in Harris Farm Markets in Cooks Hill.
Sourdough and pastry lovers are well taken care of here. (Image: Tyson Mayr)
Address: 21/25 Downie St, Maryville
Best for: Pulling up a chair and toasting the scene in Newcastle with a caramel windmill pastry on the side.
Pekárna (means bakery in Czech) and it’s the place to go in Newcastle for baked European treats and strong coffee. Owner Petra, who was born in the Czech Republic, began Pekárna as a pop-up stall at the local markets before finding a bricks and mortar space on Brunker Road. Novocastrians are hooked on Petra’s pastries. The Bee Sting is hugely popular: it’s a custard-filled pastry topped with toasted honey almonds.
Address: 277 Brunker Rd, Adamstown
21. The Kiosk
Best for: Partaking in a Kiosk classic of beer-battered fish and chips with a lemon wedge and tartare sauce.
You can’t help but fall in love with Newcastle when you rock up at The Kiosk Newcastle Beach after dusting the sand off your feet.
Swing by The Kiosk for a quick snack by the beach.
The low-key kiosk is the embodiment of the Newcastle way of life, specialising in toasties, bowls, burgers and fish and chips.
A feast of your choosing awaits at this Newcastle gem.
It’s the place to be when you’re looking for a stellar espresso or to sit at a table in the sunshine working on your start-up.
Address: 42 Shortland Esplanade, Newcastle East
22. Arno Deli
Best for: Handpicking items for a picnic.
Arno Deli is a modern take on an old-school European Italian deli and bar and has some of the best lunch options in town. Think premium cheeses, meat, wines, and artisan produce sourced from around the globe. There’s barely enough room to swing a salami in the cupboard-sized deli, but that’s part of its charm. Ooh and ahh over the cabinet filled with top-tier French cheeses, Spanish ham, Italian meats and order a panino to go on a specially crafted schiacciata (Italian focaccia).
Address: 181 King St, Newcastle
23. Slingtown Espresso
Best for: Toasties loaded with jerk chicken and crispy slaw with pickled jalapenos and cheddar.
Suspension has changed its name to Slingtown Espresso. But what committed caff-fiends need to know is that the coffee game is as strong as ever here.
Refuel at Slingtown Espresso.
Ask the barista to sling a few batch brews your way and take up a position on the deck with turmeric and cardamon spiced porridge with roasted nuts and fresh fruits. Slingtown is an ode to arty Islington, one of Newie’s most well-loved and artfully scuffed up suburbs.
With coffee this good you’ll want to linger for a while.
Address: 3 Beaumont St, Islington
Best for: A kerbside pick-up of coffee on your way out of town at the 186 Parry St outlet.
Sherwood knows it’s fabulous. That’s why it opened eight outlets in Newcastle. The OG is in Parry St and it’s a smart space from which to do business, banter with the barista, pick up a bag of beans and settle in for the smashed avo on toast; it deserves its own sonnet. This iconic Aussie breakfast is served pelted with a mix of nuts, feta, chunky pesto and a drizzle of lemon. It’s that good.
Order up the smashed Avo on toast at Sherwood for a real treat.
Address: 67 Parry St, Newcastle West
25. The Press Coffee and Book House
Best for: Bukowski toastie of char-grilled broccoli on a bed of zesty tahini paste and topped with cheese.
The Press Coffee and Book House is not a straight-up coffee shop. It is, instead, a carefully curated space, known as much for its cafe culture as its vinyl and books.
Sip coffee while reading a book at The Press Coffee and Book House. (Image: Time Out)
Head here if you’re hankering for a coffee after a swim in the local ocean baths where you might run into members of the Banned Book Club (BBC), who will happily bang on about the next edgy title they’ve been tasked with.
The cafe, which also facilitates open mic nights, live music and a pop-up restaurant, is very much part of the fabric of Newcastle, and emblematic of the city’s laid-back creative community vibe.
Address: 462 Hunter St, Newcastle
26. Moor Newcastle East
Best for: Shakshuka. It’s insanely good. Moor please.
Moor serves contemporary fare with a hybrid Asian and Middle Eastern accent. And for that, it’s found a devoted group of followers. There are no shortcuts here: everything is made from scratch. The shakshuka, soft eggs in a Middle Eastern-spiced tomato sauce served in warm pita bread and labneh is fresh and herbaceous. It’s also prettily presented and downright delicious. Head to the Eastside cafe post-surf as it’s near to Newcastle’s main beach.
Address: 33 Hunter St, Newcastle