As a prime hub for food, shopping and entertainment, Hawthorn is definitely one of my favourite neighbourhoods. The main thoroughfares of Glenferrie and Burwood road are always buzzing with locals, workers, school kids and students, café-goers, movie buffs and visitors from all over the city.
Luckily for me, I work and live in this pretty tree-lined part of town so I'm spoiled for choice, particularly when it comes to dining out. Having tried and tested nearly all the cafés and restaurants in the area, I'm delighted to share my Top 5 - Pick of the Precinct!
Go-to coffee: Methodist Coffee Roasters
My heart skips a beat whenever I walk past Methodist. As you enter the light-filled café you are enveloped in the aroma of the magical elixir that is coffee. Their beans are roasted on site and only high grade, transparent origins are used, so you can enjoy each cup with a clear conscience. To satisfy your sweet tooth, an array of tempting treats are also on display at the counter, such as flaky croissants, creamy pistachio cupcakes and raw vegan slices.
Cosy catch ups at Chaplain's Office
A hidden gem tucked away at the back of the St. Columbs church that emanates a familiar warm feeling - like visiting your grandmother's old place. The exposed brick walls of the converted late 1800s church hall creates a rustic, cosy ambience, ideal for coffee catch ups and hearty lunches. Alongside the classic brunch fare available, such as hotcakes and avocado on toast, the menu boasts creative Asian-style dishes including Sambal pork belly and smoked king fish with a tea marbled egg - very interesting! Do venture into their green courtyard where you'll find veggies grown on site. The staff will even put a picnic hamper together if you prefer to diner alfresco on the lawn. Chaplain’s Office also offers opportunities to unemployed youth through their barista training programs, courses and work experience, so you can feel good about contributing to their cause.
Best burgers and vibes at The Resistance
Located off Glenferrie road sandwiched between the train station and Swinburne Uni, this place is another Hawthorn secret adored by locals and students. Don’t be fooled by the innocent café-style front and small grill – the real party is downstairs with dimmed red lighting and a cosy lounge complete with couches and bean bags. The boys at the Resistance have perfected their menu with 12 featured burgers (including a vegetarian option) ranging from only $10 – $15. These aren’t just your ordinary burgers though. They’re the most succulent, loaded masterpieces, freshly flipped off the grill. The seeded brioche buns are lovingly made in-house and the premium Angus beef patties are always cooked to medium-well, leaving it perfectly pink on the inside – exactly how I like it.
Fresh Mex at Fonda
Fonda is like the Mardis Gras of Mexican cuisine - bright, fun and FABULOUS. The wash of pastels and smell of fresh corn and lime incite the senses (*cue Mexican dancing bean*). LA-based chef, Gery Lopez, worked his magic on all four Fonda restaurants, located in Richmond, Hawthorn, Windsor and Flinders Lane, giving them a much-need rainbow facelift. Gone are the days of cheap, greasy street food. Fonda represents a revolution of HEALTHY (yes, you read correctly) Mexican which doesn't compromise on taste. All ingredients are sourced from the Queen Vic Market and here, quinoa is hailed as the new rice. Just as the Aztecs and Mayans traditionally consumed them, the taco tortillas are made fresh daily from corn, so you know you're getting the real deal here.
The coolest watering hole - St Cloud Eating House
The two-storey restaurant brings modern Vietnamese fusion to the eastern 'burbs and, most importantly, features a rooftop area decked out with a lush garden - perfect for after work draaanks. The unique menu mixes traditional and contemporary dishes, served on colourful crockery sets (read: insta-worthy). Authentic flavours of Asia are highlighted in the impressive cocktail list, including Thai basil and ginger. Although it's difficult to narrow down, my top tipples are the Lady Boi with vodka, blueberry liqueur, peach liqueur, lemon, egg white and ruby grapefruit, and the Ho Chi Gin with tequila, gin, mandarin, jackfruit, violet liqueur, crushed ice and frozen berries.