Aussie Invasion: Best Australian Cafes in Los Angeles
Coffee, "brekkie," meat pies and more from Down Under
The laid-back, sunny and healthy lifestyle of Australia blends perfectly with Los Angeles, so it only makes sense that Aussie-inspired cafes - mostly serving all-day “brekkie” and lunch menus - is now trending. And there are more on the way, like Roo Coffee from Brisbane ex-pats, Elyse Goyen and Tom and Kate O’Connor.
Coffee isn’t just a drink in Australia, it’s a culture. From meticulous preparation by highly-trained baristas to the manner it is consumed, Aussies enjoy their espresso-based drinks like the flat white and long black while sitting in a casual café. Accompaniments often include pastries, savory pies, egg sandwiches, grilled cheese, healthful bowls of grains or oats—or variations of "toast," including the ubiquitous avocado version that originated in Melbourne. And of course there's Vegemite, a salty spread made from brewer’s yeast that's also indigenous to the "Land Down Under.” There are also sweet specialties like Lamington (chocolate-covered sponge cake rolled in coconut), Tim Tam (two malted biscuits covered in chocolate and filled with cream), and Anzac biscuits made with oatmeal. Check out these eleven L.A. cafes that combine the coastal influences of California and Australia for a sampling of the best coffee and food for a relaxing time-out in your day.
This white shack Australian café with a rustic surf shop ambiance in an industrial area of Santa Monica comes from Australian Chef Guy Turland and designer Mark Alston, known for their first Australian coffee shop on Sydney’s Bondi Beach, as well as their YouTube channel and cookbook. The Aussie breakfast/lunch menu has a healthy vibe with a variety of bowls, including the very popular Caveman (chimchurri dressed cauliflower rice with kale, turmeric quinoa, fermented veggies, fried egg, bacon, and house made hummus). Other popular dishes include tartines (or as it’s most often called—toast) with halloumi, avocado, or salmon. Of course, coffee and tea are plentiful, as well as some very tasty smoothies. Inside seating is limited to a communal table and walled counter space, but there’s more room on the outside alley at tables against graffiti-covered corrugated walls for an urban meets Aussie surf feel.
Sydney-born Samantha Bryan introduced savory meat pies to Los Angeles in the Spring of 2013 when she opened her Aussi coffee shop and bakery in a somewhat hidden location in a courtyard off Santee Alley in Downtown L.A. For those really homesick for Down Under, jars of the country’s signature food export, Vegemite—are readily available. In addition to six meaty flavors and two veggie options, other choices to ensure the start of a good day are five-inch pies with eggs and puff pastry rolls (sausage or spinach feta). In addition to pies, there’s fish n’ chips and quinoa salad. Avocado can be added to anything. Dessert options include the Lamington sponge cake. Longshot coffee beans are used for all the roasts.
Australian owners Sam Trude and Sam Cooper, along with chef Alex Thomopoulos, opened this bright, super casual daytime eatery along Venice’s Pacific Avenue in September 2017. The wide-open counter café sits on a small parking lot across the street from Eggslut and Hotel Irwin, just about a block from the beach. Blonde wood mixes with green and white marble surfaces, while large wicker covered lights hang from the 18-foot ceilings. Seating is limited and flows from the inside out. The simple, healthy menu includes house-made granola (with a bit of a cayenne kick), avocado toast, breakfast burrito, and corn fritters with poached egg. For a bit more substantial fare, try the burger, fried chicken sandwich, or fish tacos. The drinks menu includes coffee favorites, house made fresh smoothies, and Aussie fave soda brews from Bundaberg. Grab Vittoria Ground Espresso and Marogogype coffee by the bag on the run.
Gum Tree Shop & Café
Husband and wife team, Will and Lori Ford, were among the first to bring Aussie flavors to the Los Angeles area in 2008 with their Australian café (named after the Australian eucalyptus tree) that occupies a century-old white, airy bungalow in Hermosa Beach. Lori, who was raised in Hermosa Beach, runs the lifestyle and gift boutique, while Will (an Australian native) helms the café and serves his famous meat pies and brekkie (Aussie breakfast) sandwiches, and Mom’s potato salad (always served at an Aussie barbecue). The all-day Aussie breakfast and lunch menus feature lighter fare such as granola, steel cut oatmeal, and avocado toast, as well as a variety of salads, sandwiches, and a kid’s menu. Fresh pastries line the counters. The coffee program features all the usual suspects, plus, the flat white, of course.
Little Ripper Coffee
Searching for an authentic Australian coffee shop in Los Angeles? This very cozy Australian café in Glassell Park is the perfect neighborhood gathering spot—and the precise vision of Sydney native Rex Roberts, and his wife, Lorena Jurado when they moved into the area and decided to open their little shop in the Fall of 2017. The minimalist interior space evokes a surfside vibe with counter stools for seating. The exterior has scattered seating in front, on a side patio, a on a wood bench circling a tree. The simple Aussie breakfast/lunch menu provides a perfect snack or a light meal. Choices include toast topped with avocado, lox, and ricotta & figs. There's also "jaffles"—the Aussie version of grilled cheese, but with crimped sides. Order the basic jaffle with cheddar cheese and add vegemite, or get it loaded with prosciutto and avocado. Coffee is made from La Colombe beans. Do not miss the Little Ripper— house made almond milk infused with lavender and two shots of espresso over ice with a side of Tim Tam cookies.
This cheery Aussie-inspired café is the West Coast’s first sibling to Manhattan’s Ruby’s Café, owned by Australian-born Nick Mathers (a leader of Los Angeles’ culinary Aussie invasion, who opened West Hollywood’s Eveleigh in 2010, followed by Goldie’s in 2013, with partner/chef Chef Thomas Lim). Tim Sykes from Ruby’s Café in New York partners with Mathers and Lim in this west coast expansion that debuted in November 2017. Located just north of Ocean Park, the modern, casually designed space has a beach-vibe, incorporating a patio where you can glimpse the Pacific. While other Aussie brands are predominately daytime affairs, Little Ruby extends through the evening hours with wine, beer, and spritzers. Here Chef Lim cooks up a vibrant menu comprised of signature dishes to suit healthy eaters and comfort seekers. Choices include: delicious “brekkie” options, including vegemite toast, chia muesli, green eggs bowl, and ricotta pancakes. Other choices include an elevated avocado toast; rice and vegetable bowls; sandwiches; the popular Bronte burger; and one of the best fried chicken sandwiches in L.A. Don’t miss the house-made banana bread or coffee granola for a quick bite. Espresso-style drinks are made from La Colombe beans. There are also smoothies, fresh-pressed juices and sparkling concoctions, like the Himalayan with hazelnuts, dates, toffee, coconut cream, and cinnamon.
Ministry of Coffee
Opened in November 2017, this casual Australian import with locations in Sydney and Istanbul is a self-described “boutique café founded on ancient Turkish coffee rituals.” The Westwood location is the first in the U.S. and is currently importing coffee beans from Sydney, but will soon roast beans on site. Adjacent to UCLA, it’s perfect for a study session, or a quick bite before a play at The Geffen, with plentiful seating amidst bookcase walls in an industrial interior. The all-day menu includes toasts and rolls with toppings such as avocado, smoked salmon, and mushroom. Over a dozen sweet and savory spreads are offered for bread and vegetables. Turkish and global influences are noted with ingredients such as za’atar and merguez sausages. Healthy choices include egg dishes, house made granola, steel cut oatmeal, and the MOC Esprit Salad with kale and quinoa. Baked goods include house-made coffee cake, banana bread, croissants, and oatmeal raisin cookie with orange zest. The drinks menu features any kind of coffee you desire, plus smoothies, shakes, and fresh squeezed juice.
Paramount Coffee Project
Three of Australia’s most touted coffee purveyors opened this import on Fairfax Avenue in 2015 amidst street wear fashion shops and an array of eclectic eateries. Partners Russell Beard, Mark Dundon and Jin Ng are opening a second larger location at Row DTLA in January 2018 (with an evening menu and wine added). The narrow, urban Fairfax space designed with wood, concrete, and greenery, is fronted by a walk-up window with a display of Farm Shop pastries. Table service is available inside and on the cozy back patio. The all-day menu includes The Paramount (scrambled eggs, Hook’s aged cheddar, chili ham, worcestershire mayo, and a house English muffin); plus international selections, such as chilaquiles, udon noodles, and Thai salad. Avocado toast can be amped up with smoked salmon and/or two eggs. And since coffee is the thing, sip on a traditional flat white, vanilla bean latte, an espresso spritzer, or choose among a variety of other drinks. Take home a select bag of roasted beans, including Verve, Kuma, and Brandywine.
The Elysian Heights neighborhood of Echo Park welcomed this sleekly styled neighborhood café in December 2017 from noted Australian restaurateurs, Bonnie Shearston and Tom Sauceau, who own a handful of pubs and bars in Australia. Why name it Pollen? They make their own honey. Here, they’ve brought in executive chef Alison Trent to run the show. An Australian native, she is no stranger to California or L.A. having cooked at the French Laundry, Bouchon Beverly Hills, Providence, and Ysabel. Situated against a hillside and surrounded by homes, the casual café beckons with an inviting covered patio in hues of yellow and white, and additional outdoor seating on an elevated patio. The menu is a combination of healthy and comfort dishes, many which include avocado in a variety of ways—on toast, in a wrap, and bacon and egg plate. Further offerings include Bircher muesli, breakfast English muffin sandwich, grilled cheese (with three cheeses) and tomato soup; cheeseburger with bordelaise and potato soldiers; and organic roast chicken salad. Lemon pancake lovers will be obsessed by Chef Trent’s version with poppy seeds, topped with house-made blueberry jam. While you’re waiting to place your order at the counter, don’t miss the tantalizing display of bread and baked goods (all made in-house), salads, and sandwiches. The drinks menu includes bulletproof coffee, as well as Aussie specialties, including flat white, long black, and piccolo. Non-coffee drinks feature freshly made smoothies, orange and sea salt hot chocolate, and a turmeric and black pepper latte. Dinner is slated to begin when the liquor license is approved.
Red Window Coffee Bar
Aussie ex-pats Dan and Leah Pringle wanted access to a good “flat white” near their home, so they decided to build a coffeehouse. Opened in 2015, Red Window Coffee Bar may be the smallest in Los Angeles—the brick structure is the size of a closet and stands on the driveway that houses Iroha Sushi in Studio City. The only inside room is for the staff. Order at the window and take a seat at one of the wooden tables made from old shipyard spools. Aussie coffee specialties all have double shots of espresso and include cappuccino (ask for it “Aussie-style”: layered with espresso, sweet chocolate powder sprinkles, and micro foam) and the flat white (cappuccino-sized latte with minimum foam). Sweet selections include pastries from Cake Monkey.
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