Melburnians love to boast about the swish and hip cafés tucked away in various laneways and corners of the city. For the slightly-introverted Adelaide, we take those words in stride without even trying to defend ourselves. After living here in Adelaide for nearly thirteen years (on and off), I can confidently say that there are some really great places in Adelaide to chill out, whether for a decent bite to eat or for just a coffee and cake. Besides the great Cibo Espresso chains that you can find all over the city (PS: Their Cibocino is something that you shouldn’t miss while in town!), there are some great spots to try here in Adelaide. There will be a lot more places that I haven’t listed here, and you may help in contributing your list as well, but I thought I’d list some of the places that I have tried and enjoyed. While the list is dominated by chocolate cafés, rest assured, I do eat my vegetables and I do eat other things besides chocolate!
- Amalfi Pizzeria Ristorante – 29 Frome Street | Adelaide SA 5000 | (08) 8223 1948 – Pizzas can still be interesting and oceans apart from the doughy pizza delivered to your doorstep by one of the commercial chains. This pizzeria at the East End remains very popular with Adelaideans that it is still essential to book a table well in advance. A short distance away from Palace and Nova cinemas and other great cafés lining Rundle Street, Amalfi is a great spot to start your journey at the East End.
- Au Matin Calme – Shop 1/210 Hutt Street | Adelaide SA 5000 | (08) 7225 2707 – Yearning for a decent chocolate croissant? Wanting to have a piece of Europe but you don’t have the money to fly over? Browse through Au Matin Calme‘s delightful choice of freshly baked croissants, order one (or two) for yourself along with a cup of coffee, head upstairs and close your eyes. With a healthy dose of imagination, you will be transported away from the winter’s cold.
- Bliss Organic Cafe – 7 Compton Street | Adelaide SA 5000 | (08) 8231 0205 – For an open-minded omnivore, I am not intimidated at all heading over to a vegan or vegetarian restaurant for lunch or dinner. If you have a preconceived idea that vegan dishes are boring, you should drive over to Bliss Organic, near Grote Street in the city. Almost a world away from the monosodium-glutamate dens in Chinatown lies a vegan cafe in Compton Street. Sit in their serene backyard while you enjoy your Tofu Scramble – trust me, it’s delicious and it’s good for you. A must to savour, along with their hot organic apple juice, infused with cinnamon, lemon thyme and cloves.
- Blue and White Cafe – 43 O’Connell Street | North Adelaide SA 5006 | (08) 8267 2243 – If you are tired of eating healthy and you want to give your arteries an exercise, drive over to O’Connell Street and stop by the Blue and White Cafe. Their well-known offering to the world of cuisines is ‘AB’ which is a shortened form for … wait for it … abortion. It doesn’t look nice – but it tastes so good, especially if you are craving for some earthy dinner. AB is a mixture of potato chips with some grilled meat (lamb, chicken, or both), drizzled with some garlic sauce, barbeque sauce, chilli or tomato sauce. You can have a platter for one, or two, or even three. Gluttony is the new black.
- Bracegirdle’s – 31 Jetty Road | Glenelg SA 5045 | (08) 8294 8482 – Chocolate lovers don’t need to flock to the Hills or to the CBD for some decent hot cocoa. Situated in the seaside suburb of Glenelg, Bracegirdle’s is an oasis located on the touristy strip of Jetty Road, Glenelg for some iced chocolate, hot chocolate, coffee or mocha. If you are with friends, perhaps you should treat yourselves for some fondues! You can also find them in Burnside.
- Chocolate Bean – 18 Union Street | Adelaide SA 5000 | (08) 8359 3399 – Fancy for some extra zing of chilli in your hot chocolate? Or perhaps other exotic taste combinations like jasmine, aniseed, cherry or coconut with your hot chocolate? Then Chocolate Bean is your spot. Tucked away in Union Street, off Rundle Street, this is a popular spot to escape from the cold outside (or the heat, depending on the season). Cosy and down-to-earth, you won’t find anybody too pretentious here. Just they way you like it.
- Chocolate @ No. 5 – 5 Main Street | Hahndorf SA 5245 | (08) 8388 1835 – craving for some hot chocolate after you do the touristy things in Hahndorf? Head over to Chocolate @ No. 5, the owners are migrants from South Africa who know how to make great hot chocolates and other types of chocolatey drinks that you would love. They also serve decadent dessert – don’t dilly dally though, their No. 5 cake specialties are usually gone by early afternoon! They’re open 9-5, Thursday to Monday.
- Chocolatree – 25 O’Connell Street | North Adelaide SA 5006 – from the East to the West, from the South to the North, you will find a great spot for a great cuppa in Adelaide. If you have the craving for some pick-me-up, stop by at Chocolatree. Their cosy courtyard area behind the shop is great cosy place to sit in the evening while you slowly sip your hot chocolate while you contemplate the fate of the world.
- Cocolat – 283 Rundle Street | Adelaide SA 5000 | (08) 8232 6133 – well, if the Hills are simply to far away and you are craving for some chocolate cakes, hold on – help is nearby! Cocolat, a popular hangout for chocolate afficionados, is just around the corner. Their chocolate espresso is something to experience, while their cakes are sure to leave you satisfied. You can also find Cocolat at the Adelaide Airport or at their headquarter in Balhannah, up in Adelaide Hills.
- The German Cake Shop – 2 Pine Avenue | Hahndorf SA 5245 | (08) 8388 7086 – you can ignore the slightly curt shopkeeper and just focus on the dessert that you are going to have in a matter of minutes. On top of various German sausages that you can enjoy, this shop has the best Bienenstich in town (also christened Beesting by the locals) – German honey cake with almond flakes on top, complete with custard filling. Yummo!
- The Greek on Halifax – 75-79 Halifax Street | Adelaide SA 5000 | (08) 8223 3336 – slightly more upmarket than your neighbourhood café, The Greek on Halifax serves delicious Greek dishes that you can have before you enjoy their coffee. The best way to enjoy their food is to go with your friends and enjoy their Platters. Ahhhhh – my mouth already waters thinking about their food.
- The Mac Factory – 190 Hutt Street | Adelaide SA 5000 | (08) 8223 3887 – who says that decent macarons can only be found in Sydney? Whilst Zumbo’s macarons are indeed delicious, Adelaide has a down-to-earth and cosy café that serves wicked macarons in the leavy Hutt Street area. From blueberry-and-violet macarons to green-tea-and-black-sesame, you are bound to find a variant that you would call your personal favourite. Head over there only on Thursdays to Sundays, 9am to 9pm.
- Muratti Cakes & Gateaux – 114B Prospect Road | Prospect SA 5082 | (08) 8344 9977 – a friend of mine introduced me to Brunetti in Carlton, Melbourne many years ago. I went inside, with wide-eyed wonderment looking at various Italian biscottis and cakes – all looking so tempting and delicious. I thought there weren’t anything like that in Adelaide – well, I was wrong. You can have your macaron, biscotti or cake heaven if you head over to Muratti. The only downside is that they close early at 5.00pm on weekdays, and at 1.30 on Saturdays. Head over there and chuck your calorie counter away.
There are a lot of other places that I can think of but I will start with those above, just enough to entice you to head out and explore this beautiful and cosy little town of ours. There are cafés that have been closed or sold that will remain in my memory as Adelaide’s lost treasures – like Serves You Right! in Unley, Sarah’s Cafe in Leigh Street or Citrus Cafe in Hutt Street. However, there are many more to discover. Adelaide may not be as exciting or outgoing as Melbourne, but it’s far from being boring. The gems are there if you take time to find them!