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St. Ali Cafe & Yarra Place Street Art

Home > Melbourne > Cafes | Art | Coffee | Nightlife
by Melanie Lynn (subscribe)
Going wherever the wind blows me and enjoying the ride.
Published April 30th 2012

Amidst the dull grey of an industrial block, the active hum of dozens of people happily eating, chatting and chortling spills out onto the streets and echoes down the laneways. In a less public area of South Melbourne, there is more to this place than meets the eye.

St Ali is nestled away in a restored warehouse. The roof is adorned with lamps made of take away coffee lids and a host of plants growing from re-used containers.

Coffee Lid Lamp
Coffee Lid Lamp

Table centrepieces include delicate saplings growing from second-hand plastic buckets and for water jugs, recycled longnecks. It is a tree hugger's paradise and the random, recycle-oriented theme matches the bouncy, charismatic and slightly eccentric staff.

Introverts beware! If you are seeking a quiet, thoughtful spot to read your book on the weekend, you may want to wait till after peak hour for a visit. If you do choose to brave the crowds, St Ali's will more than likely be packed to the rafters.

On my last visit, during a Sunday lunch rush, the waitress led me through a maze of noisy revellers, to a table where I found myself seated directly across from an unsuspecting couple of randoms who I greeted sheepishly, before burying my nose into my menu. But there's a reason the hordes mass here.

Mr Girello
Mr Girello

St Ali roasts their own coffee that results in a variety of luxurious blends. The house blend is a safe bet with beans from both Guatemala and Colombia. Alternatively if you are feeling festive and are willing to spend an extra 80c, you may want to sample the coffee of the day, which changes daily and includes blends from Colombia, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, Brazil, Guatemala, Ethiopia, Mexico, Burundi, Kenya, El Salvador, India & Indonesia.


The menu is inspired, and each dish has is own personal flair that would set it apart from the same dish in another venue. Menu marvels I have sampled include: Meredith, Mr Girello, Omega Love and St Ali Burger Royal with Cheese. These dishes are as flamboyant as their names and are made with first-rate produce.

But wait, there's more. In addition to everything going on inside of St Ali, there is also an additional bonus to be found out on the road. On the street outside, there is somewhat of a free exhibit.

Calling all street art aficionados! Yarra Place happens to have a wide array of impressive pieces on, and surrounding St Ali.

A variety of mystical figures adorn the buildings, and even a cameo appearance from Mr Squiggle himself graces one particular building.

Yarra Place Street Art
Mr Squiggle, the Man from the Moon

The art in the laneway was actually born when St Ali hosted a street party, where a group of local street artists were asked to paint their work on the surrounding buildings, in hopes of creating an artistic vibe in a generally boring collection of structures.

The celebration included DJs, beverages and a barbecue, with live street murals in progress as the festivities raged.

The result was a street full of life, attitude and character. Proceeds from the event were given to the charity Street Smart, to help the homeless.

Whether you've come to feed your face, or admire the art, Yarra Place is your one stop coffee shop, street exhibit and food fix. There is everything to love and nothing to hate in this spirited lane-way.

Learn from the masters : St Ali also offer barista classes that run for two and a half hours at a cost of $295.
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Why? Come for the coffee, stay for the street art.
When: Daily 7am - 5pm, Wed - Sat 6pm - Late
Where: 12-18 Yarra Pl South Melbourne 3205 VIC
Cost: Meals - Max Price - $22.50, Coffee - $4 ($4.80 for coffee of the day)
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