HOT: Toot Toot Toys, 637 Centre Rd, Bentleigh East

Toot Toot Toys is an awesome train-themed toy store with the benefit of a cafe and gated play area at the back. If you have young kids who are train-mad then Toot Toot Toys is the perfect hangout on a wet or cold day. It’s hidden away in a quiet strip of shops, making it […]

HOT: Nature Boy, 486 Neerim Road, Murrumbeena

Nature Boy in a family-friendly cafe in Murrumbeena with the benefit of an outdoor play area that’s shaded and cubby house. The frontage of Nature Boy is deceiving, as you can only spot a small dining area from the street. But head to the side corridor, beyond a small astroturf courtyard…and there’s another whole building/dining […]

HOT: The Hub 3070, 58a Victoria Road, Northcote

The Hub 3070 is a cafe and food store providing Northcote families with Toby’s Estate coffee, a focus on healthy eats and an awesome indoor play area. You can’t spot much from the black brick street frontage of The Hub 3070. But once you enter it unfolds with bright light and lots of seating options. […]

HOT: Koonwarra Food and Wine Store, South 2 Koonwarra-Inverloch Road, Koonwarra

You’d never imagine that a tiny Gippsland town of Koonwarra can boast an artisan bakery, homewares store, organic produce store and a food, wine and produce store. The picturesque village is located on the South South Gippsland Highway between Foster and Leongatha and the reason for its existence is that there was one a train […]

HOT: New Shanghai, Emporium Melbourne, Level 3, 287 Lonsdale St, Melbourne

My kids are half Chinese but I have to confess that they don’t get a lot of exposure to Chinese culture in their day to day lives. One way I try to rectify that is to feed them Chinese food at every opportunity when we eat out as I’m not a particularly knowledgeable Chinese food […]

HOT: Wilfred and Smith, 23 Albion Street, Essendon

Wilfred and Smith is a popular local cafe in the middle of residential Essendon. It’s petite and the interior navigation may be tricky for prams, but it does have high chairs and a large disabled bathroom with change table to cater for families. When it’s warm the cosy front courtyard is the best place to […]

HOT: Duchess of Spotswood, 87 Hudsons Road Spotswood

Almost six years ago Duchess of Spotswood was on the vanguard of the regeneration of Spotswood. A cafe so well-regarded that foodies would even cross the Westgate (gasp) to eat there. It’s now got new owners and while it lacks the same finesse as before some of the dishes that made the original so famous are […]

HOT: The Backyard, 19 Mason St, Newport

The Backyard is a family-friendly cafe in Newport that delivers what it says on the sign – a huge backyard that rivals my modest courtyard at home. The astroturf space is THE place to hang out if you have kids. There’s a long chalkboard wall, lots of toys, space to run and every table looks […]

HOT: Second Home, 21 Brougham St, Eltham

Second Home is a large cafe housed in an Alistair Knox-designed brick industrial building in Eltham. It’s by cafe maestro Jason Jones (The Stables of Como, Friends of Mine, Go West) and worth a special trip to the leafy ‘burbs. Second Home takes the bones of the 70s building and transforms it into a light-filled, expansive dining […]

HOT: The Hungry Peacock, 16 Mornington–Tyabb Road, Tyabb

The Hungry Peacock in Tyabb is an amazing cafe and play space that is well worth a special trip if you’re not local to the area. Parents own the large sprawling cafe and they’ve thought of everything to keep the kids fed and entertained and the adults fed and watered. There’s even a sign telling you […]

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