The Australians Are Taking Over The NYC Restaurant Scene — And It's Delicious
The New York City food scene has been skewing more plant-based and (to borrow from Bon Appétit) healthy-ish than ever before, and we're loving it.
At some point during our quest to eat all the avocado toast in the tri-state area, we noticed a smaller trend of sunny, casual, and fresh food-forward restaurants and cafés that all happened to be Australian (and yes, all have avo toast on their menus).
As a New Yorker who lived in Australia for four years and recently returned to Brooklyn, it's been really exciting to see little slices of what I loved about dining out in Australia make it all the way to my current home.
So, what makes a café decisively Australian (besides the owner's accent)?
Five Leaves owner Jud Mongell says he likes to focus on "fresh, high-quality cuisine paired with an impeccable coffee and cocktail program, but with the atmosphere of a very casual, fun neighborhood hangout." Sweatshop's co-founder, Luke Woodard adds that it's all about the "Melbourne-esque aesthetic and feel from a coffee point of view, coupled with some classic Aussie brekkie options, and a super-chilled vibe." I of course, think it all comes down to the avocado toast.
Here are eight New York-based Australian restaurants to check out if you're looking for produce-driven dishes (hello avocados, seasonal vegetables, and fresh seafood), a relaxed attitude, and damn good coffee.
This cool little spot in Williamsburg takes its coffee seriously and has a menu that we just want to keep coming back to.
Food options include açai bowls with coconut yogurt, a great Avo Smash, and a selection of jaffles (a pressed grilled cheese) including a vegemite option, for the homesick Australians and the adventurous.
Sweatshop, 232 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn
An mbg staff favorite, Two Hands has breakfast salads, açai bowls, and matcha lattes on lock. They do a great banana milkshake, too (which is a key component of a good breakfast menu for my husband).
Two Hands, 164 Mott Street
Named after a street in Melbourne, Little Collins offers up lots of yummy things on toast and bread. We would happily eat their avocado toast, banana bread toast with ricotta and berries, and butternut squash sandwich on the regular.
Little Collins, 667 Lexington Avenue
Killer brunch, great burgers, and a space you just want to be in, Five Leaves is a perfect example of why New Yorkers are gravitating toward Australian-inspired restaurants.
Five Leaves, 18 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
This restaurant is an all-day operation that transitions easily from good coffee and breakfast to a glass of wine and dinner.
Its sister restaurant, Ruby’s, is one of the original Aussie spots in NYC, opening in 2003. Unfussy and satisfying dishes like avocado toast and the pesto rice bowl are a perfect match for the laid-back atmosphere.
Dudley's, 85 Orchard Street
Milk Bar + Bluebird Coffee Shop
Not to be confused with Momofuku Milk Bar, this is another great spot for coffee and a chilled-out breakfast. Are you noticing a pattern yet?
Owner Alexander Hall also owns Bluebird Coffee Shop in Manhattan.
Milk Bar, 620 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn
Its name and inspiration come from a street in Melbourne where you’ll find lots of restaurants and cafés among amazing street art. With a menu that effortlessly combines avocado toast, a classic burger with “The Lot,” and a coconut curry laksa, you'll want to hang out at Flinders Lane all day long.
Flinders Lane, 162 Avenue A
The combination of a Melbourne coffee culture experience and dishes like pumpkin pancakes and house-made granola make this collection of cafés a favorite for those looking for a healthy breakfast and a superior caffeine boost.
Bluestone Lane, multiple locations
Leah Vanderveldt is an author living in Brooklyn, New York. She received her bachelor’s in communications and media from Fordham University, and is certified in culinary nutrition from the Natural Gourmet Institute. She is the author of two cookbooks: The New Nourishing and The New Porridge.
Vanderveldt is a former food editor at mindbodygreen and has previously worked for Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Australian Home Beautiful.