While we love a flashy new restaurant or bar, their quiet comrade, the cafe, arguably plays a greater role in people’s lives. They’re the places we return to again and again – often daily – for a caffeinated pick-me-up or a chat and a comforting pastry or sandwich to get us through the work day. Or to kickstart our weekend – or our recovery.
These newcomers are all worthy of becoming your new regular pit stop, from a slick suburban coffee spot and a laidback Hills providore to a CBD tea room and patisserie with Chilean influence. There’s plenty more to get excited about in the next six months, including the arrival of the east coast sanga shop boom, with local sandwich-slingers Carton Deli and Pinco Deli. But for now, here are the openings that have impressed us in the first half of the year.
Bobby’s Coffee Store, Warradale
In a row of nondescript shops on a quiet backstreet, this simple but slick neighbourhood coffee shop is a beacon of light for locals. It’s like nothing else in the Warradale area, and since opening in May, it’s been beckoning crowds of southern suburbs residents (plus their babies and their dogs) with its D’Angelo coffee, Market Street pastries, and bagels by former Sibling chef Aaron Caporn (now baking under the name Holy Mother of Bagels). Husband and wife owners Jack and Caitlin Sutton live locally and wanted a place for people of all ages and stripes. “All our friends who live around here – young parents with young kids – need somewhere they can come,” Jack told Broadsheet in May. “But the oldies love it just as much … Some of them have been here for 50, 60 years and there’s been nothing here. And now it’s thriving, it’s got people out and about and getting together. It’s super nice.” As for Bobby? That'd be the couple’s lively nine-month-old French bulldog.
Gathering with family and friends to drink tea is incredibly popular in Chile – in fact, teatime is something of a fourth meal. It was months spent with her family in Chile that sparked Chaveli Goya’s passion for tea and, eventually, her new tea room and patisserie, Cielo. The winsome spot opened in Adelaide Arcade last month, Goya drawing on memories of time spent in Chile with her great-grandmother to create a homey cafe with old-world charm – filled with pastel vintage chairs, vases of flowers, gold-framed paintings and a record player. (“I wanted people to feel like how I felt when we had tea at her house,” she says.) Order the signature blend – a black tea with cinnamon that tastes like a cinnamon bun when milk’s added – paired with a cruffin, Chilean pastry, slice of Basque cheesecake or a popular chiffon cake filled with rose-petal jelly.
Fourth Hill Providore, Verdun
If you spend time travelling down Onkaparinga Valley Road in Verdun lately, chances are you noticed the former Redgum and More barn undergoing a transformation. The team behind the Stanley Bridge Tavern – located directly across the road – had been eager to turn the old stone building into a laid-back providore for the past four years. Their dream finally became a reality in March, the place quickly filling with locals looking for a coffee and croissant on their morning commute, or a cosy place to catch up with friends and family. On the menu you might find a gooey omelette with spinach, provolone and bacon, a seasonal fruit bowl or a comforting serve of house-baked beans with a baked egg and focaccia. For lunch, panini and focaccias, daily pasta specials, Roman-style pizza by the slice, and a muffaletta sandwich layered with salami, mortadella, buffalo mozzarella and roasted capsicum, eggplant and zucchini. Drinks mostly keep it local with Adelaide Hills wines, SA beers and spirits, and Mischief Brew soft drinks alongside coffee from Victorian roaster Five Senses.
Room 19, CBD
If you’re looking for a quiet brunch spot, Rundle Street probably isn’t the first place you’d head. But the operators of Room 19 have a good feeling about their location. They’ve got good reason to, with a superb menu that’s blending Asian flavours with Aussie cafe staples: think almond hot cakes with yuzu ice-cream; eggs Benedict with Korean fried chicken and gochujang hollandaise; and miso-roasted mushrooms with vegan creamed corn. Until 2020 the site was home to chocolatier Steven ter Horst and it has been smartly redone by local design studio Soko. The orientation has been spun 90 degrees, meaning diners aren’t facing the on-street bustle. Soko also designed all the custom furniture, with repeated curved lines and comfy booth seating bringing a quiet calm to the space. A brand new kitchen, folding cafe windows and plenty of indoor greenery have also been added. An avo-coloured espresso machine sits pride of place on the counter, pulling coffee from Melbourne roaster Seven Seeds. Expect a darker roast house blend alongside seasonal single-origin and batch-brewed options.
In Italy, a tavola calda is a place that serves pre-made food – fast, cafeteria-style. But best get any thoughts of school cafeterias and food courts out of your mind now. Valentino’s is a new casual eatery from a couple of industry veterans bringing the tavola calda concept – featuring robust home-style southern Italian food – to Grenfell Street. It’s the latest project from Peter De Marco (Chicco Palms, Pizza e Mozzarella Bar, Chicken & Pig, Borsa) and his first with pastry chef Claudio Ferraro (one of the founders of Cibo Espresso). Operator Tatiana Madruga and artist and designer James Brown complete the partnership. Their new antipasto bar combines the fast-casual counter service of Chicken & Pig with the hearty Italian cooking of Chicco Palms, Pizza e Mozzarella Bar and Borsa (think roasted eggplant, stuffed capsicum, slow-cooked meatballs and Roman-style pizza al taglio) and the traditional Italian pastries of Cibo’s heyday (hello, ricotta cannoli and crisp, flaky sfogliatelle). “It’s restaurant-quality food in a relaxed, casual environment,” says De Marco. And a nourishing and tasty lunch option for time-poor city office workers.
Sunnyside arrived in Henley Beach billed as a “summertime pop-up”. The concept is expected to develop with a focus on evenings, but for now you can still score stacks of pancakes, bottomless mimosas, bagels, bowls and more.
Loc Bottle Bar's cafe spin-off is back. After a short stint opening weekdays for coffee and pastries last year, the wine bar has reopened its doors in the mornings under the stewardship of Coffee in Common’s Dos Cavuoto.
Two expansions also deserve your attention: Saudade has brought its real-deal Portuguese tarts back to where it all began, and Levantine-flavoured favourite Ballaboosta has opened a much larger second location (complete with a Mediterranean Bloody Mary with za’atar and hot sauce).
One rebirth also warrants a mention: after a year operating out of a converted tyre-repair shop, Tell Henry moved into its permanent home in March, coming full circle to a leafy location a short walk from its original Kent Town digs.
And The Sugar Man’s first retail store gets a nod here too. Is it a cafe? No. But there are exquisite blocks of chocolate and some of the best pastries in town.