I ask you: who could not like a place called ‘Happy River’? The cheery name sets you up for a good mood long before you turn off Footscray Road. And the great thing is, this cafe is not just happy in name.
Perched above a stretch of Melbourne’s ‘other’ river – the mighty Maribyrnong – life is breezy at the Happy River Cafe. It’s 2pm and overhead fans spin above patrons tucking into eggs scrambled with chilli and coriander (how we love cafes that serve late breakfasts, especially ones where Bloody Marys head the menu).
Old windows frame the river and, beyond, an unfamiliar view of Melbourne’s skyline. White tongueand- groove panelling, polished floors, an innovative patchwork of joinery and changing art exhibitions all add to the cafe’s laidback charm.
Importantly, the coffee here will also make you happy, and every palate is taken care of: come for a hearty meaty meal (think Jamaican chicken on coconut rice) or a vegan feast. Homemade pasta, fresh wraps, oesophagus-warming curries and the like round out the offerings.
Absolutely everything is cooked on site (relishes, jams, satay sauces) and made with seasonal ingredients, so the menu’s constantly changing.
An expanse of lawn outside, dotted with umbrellas over tables, is a terrific spot to kick back on a sunny day, especially if you’ve got kids in tow (or you’re just a big kid yourself).
Next door is the Footscray Community Arts Centre and the Melbourne Museum of Printing is across the road – both worth exploring either side of a curry or cake.
Above all, Happy River is a surprise. Its semi-industrial and somewhat obscure location means that even locals are still discovering it. So you’ll be both happy and surprised – does it get any better?
45 Moreland St, Footscray
(03) 9689 3244
Open Tues–Sun 8am–6pm