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Student Cafe Culture

Home > Melbourne > Cafes | Food and Wine | Restaurants
by Sophie Lamell (subscribe)
I'm a uni student doing a Masters in Publishing
Published September 21st 2011
It is a well-known fact that our bodies require sufficient fuel in order to be able to perform both physical and mental activity. Healthy bodies, healthy minds, so the old saying goes.
And nowhere is the need for a nutritious meal more pertinent than during lengthy periods of study. For this very reason students are at the epicentre of Melbourne's cafe culture. Recognisable by an ever-present haze of coffee and cigarettes, they are always on the hunt for a new shabby-chic gathering place to call their own.

So it is only natural that in and around the confines of Melbourne Uni, lies a veritable array of options for the hungry student. Here, far from the generic sandwich bars frequented by the stern-faced suits of the city, or the gentrified haunts of suburban ladies who lunch, the student cafe reigns supreme.

Melbourne Uni Foodcourt

It must be said that the somewhat sterile Melbourne Uni foodcourt leaves a lot to be desired in terms of atmosphere. However, beyond the ubiquitous greasy stir-fries and frozen cokes lie a few trusty gems frequented by those in the know. Firstly, there is a range of great sandwich bars on offer. The ingredients are fresh and in bountiful supply, with anything from your standard ham and cheese to your slightly more gourmet fare available. The choice is entirely yours, with the friendly sandwich hands catering to your wildest whims and fancies. Sweet Tooth is a great pit stop for a quick sugar hit. Their classic pick-and-mix selection will all but get you through those seemingly endless evening classes.

Despite these offerings, it cannot be denied that the foodcourt is severely lacking in ambience, leaving your well-deserved lunch break a somewhat uninspiring affair. So, when the sun is shining, take yourself outside to grassy spoils of South Lawn.

South Lawn

Or, even better, venture beyond the campus confines to the surrounding streets of Carlton. Outside the university grounds exists a vibrant cafe scene, easily accessible between classes or for extended study breaks.

Animal Orchestra
163 Grattan Street, Carlton

Conveniently situated on Grattan Street, Animal Orchestra has long been a lunchtime mainstay for Melbourne Uni students. With its trendy decor and extensive panini list, you might very well find yourself vying for a seat along with the rest of the Arts faculty.

The muesli is a revelation in comparison to the standard, rather dull affair you might whip up at home and the panini's are most definitely popular for a reason. While the staff are friendly, if not a little too hip for their own good, service can be on the slow side due to the constant rush. However, Animal Orchestra is such a student institution that it remains at the utmost of popularity regardless. Capitalising on Melbourne's love for shabby chic decor and gourmet-kitsch lunch fare, from tasty goulash to baked eggs, Animal Orchestra is the quintessential uni lunch spot.

282 Elgin Street, Carlton.

A welcome change from the kebab shops and Italian eateries that populate Lygon Street, Briks is a charming addition to Carlton's cafe scene. With a range of cakes and tarts on display that are bound to satisfy your sweet tooth, along with a hearty breakfast menu and a clean design aesthetic it is likely to become a quick success. While presentation may trump taste, as is the case with the crushed avocado, Briks is still worth a visit as you get the impression that this little cafe is still in the process of finding it's feet.

Crushed Avocado at Briks

The simple, yet effective combination of reasonable prices and classic cafe fare should draw the student body en masse to philosophise over coffee and cake. After all, caffeine is indeed the drug of choice at Melbourne University, and it is consumed in mass quantities.
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Why? Because students are always hungry
When: Daily
Where: The University of Melbourne and surrounding areas
Cost: Varies
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