St Ali is a hip cool fun uber café with amazing ambience, stunning coffee and excellent creative menu choices - hidden down a laneway in South Melbourne. This is one of my “go to” places in Melbourne and have loved each of my many visits. The owner Salvatore Malatesta is an icon and visionary in the industry, in the city of Melbourne, and internationally. He has inspired an amazing culture in and beyond this cult cafe in a laneway.
St Ali is a cafe with style and culture. St Ali has some classic menu designs - here is one of my all time favourites...
St Ali is named after Ali ibn Umar al-Shadili, a fourteenth century mystic and someone who apparently birthed coffee passion. One of the cool mystiques surrounding St Ali is that it can be hard to find. You wander down some nondescript laneway off charming Clarendon Street in the quest for serious coffee. You then wonder if it’s the right laneway. You see a group of people emerge from a non descript entrance. And you realise this must be St Ali (no signage).
Walk in to a hip if not grungy establishment with industrial themes. The friendly staff are so warm that you don’t mind waiting that 10 or 15 minutes for a table (no booking policy). The staff are also helpful in arranging tables to fit in those groups. We arrived on one occasion to meet an old friend and her partner. The attentive staff were accommodating to find us space as soon as it became available. Another time we met with friends from both Adelaide and London – dazzled by the vibe of St Ali – and staff managed to find us space during a packed Saturday brunch session.
The menu options excite, are creative and show a sense of fun. Brunch highlights include From Chickens With Love options such as eggs anyway with sides or My Mexican Cousin corn fritters. Or for lunch go the Smokey and the Bandit Victorian rainbow trout. Or order the Chris-P confit pork belly. The Chicadee whole chicken thigh burger is a sensation.
The cakes and pastries are also a highlight at St Ali and great with any coffee.
Music pumping, grungy concrete floor, awesome flower arrangements, and the mirror ball, all add to the ambience. Love the communal tables. Love the different interesting areas to dine.
At the present time of writing they are launching a Balls pop up restaurant in July.
Loved lunch here, meeting a good friend from Jo’burg now moved to London. He rated St Ali as a top café to be found anywhere in the world. I found him in a state of bliss when I walked in, already reading a paper and ready for his second amazing coffee. We both enjoyed a legendary lunch and felt many memorable meeetings and catch ups involve St Ali.
Known to be one of the best coffee establishments in Melbourne, St Ali exudes a serious coffee devotion. The house blends are great. Single origin options are dazzling – just look up and check out the board. Panama. Costa Rica. Colombia. Honduras. And others. St Ali brew amazing Cold Drip, Pour Over and Syphon coffee. It's hard to have just one coffee - usually a coffee or three here. St Ali is a coffee wholesaler and roasts it’s own coffee, supplying notable establishments across the city.
St Ali is spectacular.
St Ali, 12-18 Yarra Place, South Melbourne – Asian/Middle Eastern - Food 9 Coffee 9.5 Ambience 9.5