You know how some cities just seem made for an early rise? Sydney is one of them, and because of this, morning meals are perhaps the most revered of them all. Choosing which café you’ll head to with your dog and your paper is a rite of passage for anyone who lives in Sydney for a spell, but even if you’re just in town for a brief visit, it’s worth avoiding the breakfast buffet that comes with your room package and trying one of the countless spots that make the first meal of the day their primary focus. Café culture is huge here. Brunch, not so much. (For a country that’s known to love its drinks, the relative unpopularity of mimosas and Bloody Marys before noon on weekends continues to mystify me.) Try to arrive early and head to one of the following five restaurants; they’re buzzing any day of the week. And once you taste the dishes they’re whipping up at the crack of dawn in the kitchen, you’ll understand why.
This cozy corner café on a pretty corner in Redfern serves awesome breakfasts and soul-reviving coffee. Grab a newspaper and order a hearty meal. I’m a fan of its baked bean breakfast, which comes with toast soldiers, a UK creation that’s almost stupidly simple in execution—strips of toasted bread, perfect for mopping up any last bits of your day’s first meal.
Nelson Road Tuckshop
The fading ‘tuck shop’ holds a special place in the hearts of Australians who lived through its heyday. Historically, they’re retail shops that sell various dried and fresh goods, but the folks at this corner joint in Bondi Junction kick it up a notch. Try the curried eggs, served cold (sort of like the gooey insides found in the deviled variety) with pumpernickel bread, kale, hot smoked salmon, and pickle.
Sydney’s breakfast culture starts and ends at bills, which pioneered a whole-scale revival of the morning ritual in the early 2000s by offering thoughtful, fresh food in a clean and respectable setting. No sloppy eggs and baked beans here; its signature dish is the can’t-fail ricotta pancakes, but the sweet corn fritters (served with roasted tomato, spinach, and bacon) are just as satisfying. It has locations in Surry Hills, Darlinghurst and now Bondi.
This pretty little gathering spot in Redfern is part of a complex that houses the well-heeled Garden Life plant proprietor and an upstairs yoga studio, so there’s an undeniably Zen vibe about the whole thing.
It doesn’t get much better than a morning stroll down the grand boulevards of Annandale, a beautiful suburb in Sydney’s inner west. And Revolver is a funky little corner café with a cheeky vibe. Sit at the window seats and order the ‘old-school cheeseburger.’