The wellness clique can be found lining up for mushroom lattes and poached vegan "eggs" made with coconut, sweet potato and turmeric at the plant-forward Matcha Mylkbar (72a Acland St, St Kilda, 03 9534 1111). The clean brief is taken to less of an extreme at Terror Twilight (11-13 Johnston St, Collingwood, 03 9417 0129), a sibling to Brunswick favourite Wide Open Road (274 Barkly St, Brunswick 03 9010 9298), where all-day breakfasts include hangover-busting Japanese broth with seared salmon, and Smith & Deli (111 Moor Street, Fitzroy, 03 9042 4117), the casual offshoot to the streetwise vegan Smith & Daughters, where "Reuben" sandwiches and faux-meatball subs put the naughty into nice-to-animals.
Ambition is writ large at Gilson (171 Domain Rd, South Yarra, 03 9866 3120), a hard-working early-to-late operator opposite the Royal Botanic Gardens with a wood oven and a prize recruit in chef JP Twomey, latterly Andrew McConnell's right-hand man. Shannon Bennett's Jardin Tan (Royal Botanic Gardens, Birdwood Ave, South Yarra, 03 9691 3878) is inspired by French and Vietnamese cooking and features alfresco dining in the gorgeous garden out the back.
Tinker (235 High St, Northcote, 03 9482 5264) has taken the hotly contested inner-north café crown with its supercharged Scandi fit-out and Instagram-baiting breakfasts such as mango and saffron panna cotta with vanilla, almond and berry granola.
In Fitzroy, Jesse Gerner (of Bomba) and partners have opened Nomada (412 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, 03 9416 4102), taking a familiar Spanish route and giving it a brunchtime whirl with tapas-style dishes such as quail eggs with cumin salt. For more café fare with a cultural twist, Moroccan Deli-cacy (313 Lygon St, Brunswick East, 03 9387 6805), run by Hana Assafiri of Fitzroy North's cult favourite Moroccan Soup Bar, delivers entire Middle Eastern banquets for less than the price of smashed avo.
There's plenty of action in the more far-flung 'burbs: Left Field (358 Koornang Rd, Carnegie, 03 9578 2043) is putting the south-east on the map with its cookies and cream doughnut sliders, while Ascot Vale is thrilling to the charms of No 19 (214 Union Rd, 03 9372 8777) where Cherry Ripe pancakes rule.