The best cafes to hang out in Adelaide

Like so many parts of Australia the first espresso machine arrived in Adelaide with the wave of post-war Italian migrants in the 1950s. Before long the coffee shop was challenging the traditional South Australian bakery (famous for fritz sandwiches and Bienenstich or Bee Sting cake) for pre-eminence.

Adelaide's love affair with the coffee bean shows no sign of abating as hole-in-the wall cafes, mobile coffee carts and more elaborate establishments sprout up across the city and suburbs.  Indeed, some of Adelaide's finest cafes are to be found away from the city centre. 

Argo On The Parade in Norwood attracts the type of hype normally reserved for a One Direction concert. Consistently excellent flat white, latte and macchiato is one reason you'll struggle to find a free table at this funky street café. Super efficient service and a huge choice of savoury snacks and freshly made cakes add to its appeal.

Elsewhere on The Parade, one of Adelaide's premier shopping streets, you'll find newcomer Pavé Café, a cheerful courtyard space serving barista-made coffees and a great selection of gourmet sandwiches, warm salads and freshly squeezed juices; check out the adjoining bike shop.

Talking of retail therapy, all roads lead to Hyde Park and the glitzy attractions of King William Road (not to be confused with King William Street in the CBD). This cobbled enclave of consumerism offers an astonishing range of cafes for the busy shopper.

Standouts include By BlackbirdNutrition Republic and the vegan- and vegetarian-friendly Paleo Café, but for something truly wondrous venture down the street to the Red Door Bakery, the closest thing to a traditional French boulangerie that Adelaide offers. Come here for freshly baked bread, croissants and brioche, hot slices of pizza and the tastiest pies and sausage rolls in South Australia; everything is made on the premises. Red Door Bakery has a sister branch in Croydon with a city outlet due to open soon.

The next-door suburb of Unley is also something of a magnet for the coffee lover. A Mother's Milk is a popular hang out for the local hipster brigade but also attracts plenty of yummy mummies and men in suits. Loud, frenetically busy and always entertaining, this place serves single origin coffee and a good range of light dishes. A Mother's Milk is celebrated for its specialty coffee blends, hearty breakfasts and cheeky service.

Back in the city centre, exotic beans, stylish fit-outs and pumping sound systems are also an indication that you're on the path to coffee nirvana. Please Say Please on Grenfell Street is little more than a cupboard, but has carved out a solid following thanks to its flawless coffee, buzzy atmosphere and ciabatta toasties. The café has a healthy selection of herbal teas but its signature tipple is the 16 hour cold brew coffee – try it.

For something a little more old school consider Caparezza Espresso Bar. Tucked away on James Place, a little alleyway running off Rundle Mall. This compact space serves as a stylish Italian café by day and a groovy little wine bar by night. Great coffee is the cornerstone of the experience here, but punters can also expect a good selection of well-priced snacks, Italian wines, craft beers and, for the night time, some well-mixed cocktails.

Can you be both hip and established? Coffee Branch on Leigh Street has been around for four years but still seems edgy – note the bikes hanging from the walls and the rack of street press near the door. This slither of a room certainly packs a punch with killer coffees, sticky cakes and lunchtime snacks; look out for the pop up vegetarian burger cart that often parks outside.

Just around the corner in Peel Street La Moka is another day-night establishment much beloved of the local office workers who can't survive without their morning espresso and zeppola doughnut.

For the greatest concentration of cafes in Adelaide head over to the city's uber-cool East End dining and retail precinct. Ebenezer Place is now home to half a dozen cafes, snack bars and juice joints. Everyone seems to have a favourite, but coffee freaks will certainly enjoy Exchange Speciality Coffee – a pared back room which serves traditional espresso, filtered coffee, fine teas and a modest range of sandwiches and pastries. It's popular with cyclists and uni students. Busy little café Hey Jupiter also has a strong local following.

For those who want to return to the source of Adelaide's current infatuation with all things coffee should take the short drive out to Campbelltown and the Italian mega-deli called Mercato, a wonderful family business dating back to 1972. The emporium houses a large retail outlet, bottle shop, bakery and café. Mercato holds regular cooking classes and is a great place to pick up a gourmet supplies, Italian cookware or some freshly ground coffee.

Q&A: Duncan Welgemoed, executive chef and owner of Africola

a) Your favourite restaurant?

"Choosing one restaurant is difficult. I'd like to nominate both Penfolds Magill Estate on the lower slopes of the Adelaide Hills and Orana, just around the corner on Rundle Street. They are two very different restaurants, but they both excel in providing the best food, service and booze in the state. An indication of the resurgence of world class venues in South Australia."

b) Best pub or bar?

"My nomination is the Botanic Bar [on the corner of North Terrace and East Terrace], which is Africola's next door knock off joint. There's a sick back bar, good vibes and wicked staff."

c) My hidden secret in Adelaide?

"Hey Jupiter in Ebenezer Place is the best cafe in Adelaide in my opinion. The little café is well hidden, but worth searching out for tasty snacks and great coffee – great for breakfast or lunch."

d) Best day trip from city?

"I really love Basket Range, a small town in the Adelaide Hills. Cooking meals for the winemakers and our families there is always the most beautiful experience. There's plenty of food, wine and laughter.  It's a stunning drive into the Hills and only 20 minutes from the CBD."

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