Updated Oct. 12, 2014
Brother Baba Budan, 358 Little Bourke Street
This tiny, wonderful haven of perfect espresso has been called "the best coffee in town" (by We Know Melbourne) and we'd have to agree, especially since we are subscribers to their Seven Seeds coffee bean delivery service. Not to miss for coffee lovers.
St. Ali Coffee Roasters, 12-18 Yarra Pl
If you are staying in South Melbourne or can make the trek out to this up-and-coming area, you are in for a great coffee at St. Ali's. Plus, if you go at lunch time, the hamburgers are truly amazing.
Patricia, 493-495 Little Bourke Street
If you can find it, this little coffee shop will absolutely charm you. Tuck away in one of dozens of alleyways around the CBD, the lovely pastries and expert coffee will be a welcome oasis of calm.
The Hardware Société, 120 Hardware Street
Wonderful breakfast/brunch right in the heart of Melbourne CBD, but down an alley (as almost everything seems to be in Melbourne) for a quiet, charming oasis in the midst of the city. My favorite dish...baked eggs with chorizo.
Little Mule Cycle Co. and Cafe, 19 Somerset Place
Another darling cafe/restaurant down an alley in Melbourne's CBD. Loved the baked beans with eggs and the welcoming atmosphere which allowed for a very leisurely brunch, reading magazines and newspapers on their comfortable couch. Good coffee, too.
Chin Chin, 125 Flinders Lane
Be prepared to wait for a table. (Hint: Enjoying a fantastic cocktail downstairs at GoGo Bar makes the time fly by.) Then order as many small plates as you can stomach - carmelised sticky pork, crispy barramundi and green apple salad, kingfish sashimi...
Cumulus Inc, 45 Flinders Lane
Cumulus Inc. is a favorite for a group dinner or sharing small plates with well-made cocktails or interesting wines by the glass. Desserts are fantastic as well. Or pop upstairs (same address, Level 1) to Cumulus Up for more of a wine bar atmosphere with great cocktails and enough interesting nibbles to make sure you leave full.
Ombra, 76 Bourke Street
This small salumi bar offers a wonderful menu of cured meats, plus heavier, flavorful dishes such as pork jowl and desserts like bread pudding. Plus unique cocktails (like one made with a "prosciutto fat washed" spirit), beer and a good wine list make pairing dishes to drinks part of the fun.
Milk the Cow, 1/157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
One of our all-time favorite afternoons was spent sitting at Milk the Cow ordering flights of cheese with paired wines. Our years in Paris created an insatiable taste for good cheese, and this is the place to find it. Well worth a trip on the tram or quick drive to St. Kilda to try one of the over 100 cheeses and fantastic local and European wines offered here.
We'll keep adding to this post as we return again and again to Melbourne, so send your recommendations of favorite foodie spots and cafes.