Vegan, paleo, gluten-free, kid-friendly, creative – whatever your brunching tastes (and needs), Ballarat delivers, and its experienced baristas serve up a mean coffee to boot.
The Goldfields city of Ballarat promises beautiful streetscapes with storied, heritage buildings and a glut of cultural assets. But it also boasts a surprisingly strong local cafe scene that’s come of age in the last decade. Here are seven of the best to sample on your next Ballarat jaunt.
There’s something that feels a little bit visionary about the set-up at Clothesline Cafe. A renovated old weatherboard home on a corner block among residential streets, this aesthetically pleasing and impossibly cool venue belongs among the pages of an issue of Wallpaper* magazine. There’s caramel leather banquette seating, walls painted in a smoky grey, angular ceiling lights, and an impeccably landscaped courtyard. The menu too is an inviting ode to the unconventional: ham hock with romesco, a poached egg, native dukkah and charred onion; prawn omelette with shiitake relish, enoki mushrooms and chives; and hot smoked trout with a brown butter emulsion, roe, avocado, apple and sourdough. You’ll find coffee from Melbourne roastery Code Black here too.
The visionary set-up at Clothesline Cafe.
Address: 202 Humffray St S, Bakery Hill VIC 3350
Fika Coffee Brewers
Open since May 2015, cosy little Fika Coffee Brewers is run by local Matt Freeman – a barista with experience at revered Melbourne cafe and roastery ST. ALi under his belt. Come for the coffee (white, black, filter or single-origin espresso) and stay for the small but perfectly formed selection of brekkie and brunch options (boysenberry glazed doughnuts from local outfit Vegas & Rose, pastries, or one of the six toasties).
Cosy little Fika Coffee Brewers is run by a local.
Address: 36A Doveton St N, Ballarat Central VIC 3350
Eclectic Tastes Cafe and Pantry
Perched near the shores of Lake Wendouree, Eclectic Tastes has been winning local hearts with its range of patisserie since 2016, from berry muffins and cheesecake to pecan tarts, and vegan apple cake. But it also does a good job of showcasing the best Victorian produce and products, such as handmade sourdough crumpets from Melbourne maker Holy Crumpets, served with whipped ricotta, freeze-dried raspberries and honey from Backyard Beekeeping Ballarat, and the scrambled eggs with shaved truffle from Central Highlands truffière Black Cat. And once you’ve consumed as much as physically possible from the brunch and patisserie selection, you can also pick up a few gourmet treats for the road from the likes of pralines from Melbourne chocolatier Koko Black to biscuits and other baked goods from Phillippa’s Bakery. Those who follow a gluten-free, paleo or vegan diet are also welcomed at this Ballarat cafe and pantry.
Eclectic Tastes has been winning local hearts since 2016.
Address: 2 Burnbank St, Lake Wendouree VIC 3350
Smoothie bowls, vegan matcha pancakes, gluten-free waffles with fresh pistachios: Yellow Espresso is developing something of a name for itself as a go-to for vegan and health-skewed eats. But gluttons with a taste for more decadent dishes won’t leave disappointed either; old faithfuls such as eggs benny and avo on toast are also on offer. And discerning coffee drinkers can also enjoy a satisfying brew, with beans sourced from independent Melbourne-made Axil Coffee Roasters.
Vegan and health-skewed eats at Yellow Espresso.
Address: 13 Sturt St, Ballarat Central VIC 3350
Websters Market & Cafe
On Ballarat’s historic Webster Street, housed within a heritage corner store, lies Websters. Having built up a loyal following of regulars, this Ballarat cafe serves up a solid all-day brunch menu with all the classics, alongside coffee from famed Melbourne roastery Industry Beans. The indecisive bruncher can have it all with the breakfast board (think honey and cardamom yoghurt with nuts, seeds and seasonal fruit, plus smashed avo and goat’s cheese on sourdough with a poached egg), or you can keep it simple with a panini, toastie or bagel.
Webster’s is on Ballarat’s historic Webster Street.
Address: 61 Webster St, Ballarat Central VIC 3350
Hydrant Food Hall
The menu at Hydrant Food Hall changes seasonally and features some really rather inventive dishes beyond the clichéd avo on toast. Think potato chive waffle with confit duck, fried egg and chilli onion jam, or basil scrambled eggs, capsicum salsa, parmesan, croissant and fresh herbs. Heck, even the humble house porridge is jazzed up beyond recognition, featuring smoked honey syrup, ginger-infused coconut chips and shards of caramel crisps. The team is also able to cater to lots of different dietaries, from dairy-free to nut-free and gluten-free.
Kids aren’t left out of the equation here either. In fact, we’d be surprised if the grown-ups weren’t a bit partial to the Little Firefighters Menu themselves (hello fluffy hotcakes with vanilla ice cream, maple syrup and sprinkles, or rainbow-coloured pancakes with marshmallows and maple syrup). For little ones hyped up by a sugar high, there’s also a children’s activity play bag ($2.50) available to keep them occupied.
The menu at Hydrant Food Hall changes seasonally.
Address: 3 McKenzie St, Ballarat Central VIC 3350
King of the humble toastie, Hūsker Dū has turned the practice of jamming cheese and other tasty morsels between two slices of sourdough bread into an art form. House favourites include the tuna melt, the pepperoni, and the three cheese. Beyond toasties, the coffee shop’s limited menu changes almost daily, so expect the unexpected, from cheddar, zucchini and goat’s cheese muffins, courtesy of Ballarat Bakery Vegas & Rose, to tomato soup, and morning buns. The cafe’s baristas pour a mean brew too, made with beans from Martin Street Coffee Roasters.
Husker Du is king of the humble toastie.
Address: 8 Shepperd St, Ballarat Central VIC 3350
For more great travel tips and itineraries here is the Ultimate travel guide to Ballarat.