Cyclists don’t need to be told that brekkie is the key meal of the day. Whether you feast before you roll, or you take in nutrition once you’re out on the bike and wait to get back for a full meal, it’s all about brekkie.
For many of us, that routine stop at a café is as much a part of riding as time on the bike. So when the Destination Bike team hit Ballarat, brekkie – and coffee – were high on our agenda.
We’re glad to say we weren’t disappointed. In fact, we couldn’t put a foot wrong with any of the terrific meals we had whilst we were in Ballarat.
It wasn’t easy, but we’ve found three of Ballarat's best cafes so you can eat like a king before – or after – your Ballarat ride.
Ballarat's Best Cafes (in no order of preference):
411 Sturt Street, Ballarat
We arrived at Europa just minutes after a big local bunch sat down at a long table, which was clearly reserved as their regular post ride hang-out.
What we loved straight away was the fact we didn’t wait, despite Kathryn and her team getting two sizeable bunches at the one time (not to mention some locals in for a birthday brekkie celebration).
Coffees were quick to come out and keep us satiated as we waited for our meal. The big winner here – we didn’t order a thing. We’d booked and let Kathryn know of any dietary requirements, and not long after coffees came out, so too did some pretty substantial and delish food.
We were encouraged to tell Kathryn when we were getting full, otherwise the kitchen had just planned to keep sending out more food. Individual pots of granola and yoghurt, toasts and preserves, omelettes, poached eggs with hollandaise, French toast – we gorged ourselves on plate after sensational plate. Winner.
What did we rate?
French toast, granola and yoghurt pots and freshly squeezed pineapple juice.
205 Sturt Street, Ballart
So apparently Little Bird was given its name partly in reference to Ballarat’s community vibe, and that whole ‘a little bird told me…’ saying that tends to get a workout when everyone knows everyone else.
The first thing that strikes you about Little Bird is the space – it’s a bit of a retro US style diner. A bit – not 100%. I was personally challenged going past the cake display and not ordering a degustation of everything – coffee mocha cake, massive choc-attack brownies and plenty of other treats that didn’t really scream brekkie (I just wanted them to).
Coffee was good. This is not the kind of place that bows at the altar of Coffee Religion. Instead, it prides itself on turning around great quality, no-nonsense brews. Judging by the steady stream of local business people dropping by for their take away fix, we figured we were onto a winner.
Brekkie was tough – who wants to make a decision between so many great-sounding dishes that early in the morning? But if that was our biggest gripe in life at the time, then we were doing OK.
With everything made fresh on the premises you can forget about expecting a greasy diner experience – Little Bird is all about quality, wholesome food prepared just like I is at home (ok – actually way better, but it’s got that wholesome home feel to it).
What did we rate?
Corn beef hash with poached eggs, home-made crumpets and the cool American diner style décor.
See also: Here are Ballarat's best dinner options
Racers Bar + Café
2 Wendouree Parade, Lake Wendouree
It looks like cafes named Racers and bike riding go hand-in-hand. This place is a bit of an institution when it comes to cyclists – it’s the go-to meet point for a meal or a snack before or after a spin.
Bike racks are out the front to make it easy for big bunches to pull up and feel looked after. The location right opposite the famous Lake Wendouree is also a big plus – the lake features on most riding routes and so it’s only natural that Racers would form a strong link with riders.
Owner Adam plays a big role in this as well. He might be injured right now, but he’s otherwise an avid roadie – you can tell from the nostalgic décor and riding paraphernalia on display the moment you walk in. His sons have taken to riding as well, but they’re more mountain bikers (with one even turning his hand at improving and redesigning some new local MTB tracks).
No surprises that Adam and his team know how to look after a bunch of hungry cyclists. As soon as we were seated, coffee orders were on the go and we waited no time at all before hearty meals were served.
What did we rate?
The location on Lake Wendouree, the muesli slice (just the perfect size for a jersey pocket), fresh baked Monte Carlo bikkies, and the fact you can text your coffee order (0435 52 84 74 – allow ten minutes).
If you’re planning to stay in Ballarat for a few days of riding perfection, then don’t bother hitting the supermarket for a box of cereal and some disposable bowls and spoons. Get brekkie made for you instead, and get it made at any of these places. You won’t leave disappointed and you most definitely won’t leave hungry.