Australian cafes are bringing new flavor to the American coffee shop scene. New York received an influx of Australian cafes over the past year (see here for details) that have become quite popular, yet Philly was actually ahead of New York in this trend, as Ants Pants Cafe – a classic Australian coffee shop owned by two Australians – opened here in 2004.
I was interested to check out the recent hype over Australian cafes, and even more excited when I found out that Ants Pants Cafe was located so close to campus on 2212 South Street. While I often find that the best coffee places in the States usually have limited food options and that the best breakfast restaurants tend to have mediocre coffee, Ants Pants Cafe – and Australian cafes in general – strive to bring good food and good coffee together under the same roof.
On a recent Sunday morning, I headed to the South Street eatery for brunch with some friends and admittedly high expectations. We arrived at the back of a long line that was barely contained by the small storefront, so we didn’t hesitate to accept a seat outside. The patio was quaint, with wooden tables and chairs that provided a homey feel. As we perused the menu, we were quickly supplied with the strong coffee I had been anticipating. I learned that all of Ants Pants’ coffee comes from Toby’s Estate, a speciality coffee roasting business in Australia. This authentic Australian coffee was definitely a big step up from your typical diner brew.
While the authentic coffee did not disappoint, I was struggling to determine what else made this cafe “Australian.” Aside from the “Brekkie Platter” which includes 3 eggs (sunny, scrambled or over-easy), bacon, and fried mushrooms with honey wheat or sourdough toast, nothing on the menu had a similarly Australian-sounding name or seemed so different from menu items on other brunch menus.
When it came time to order, I decided to go for the vegetarian sweet potato hash with beets, grilled fennel and horseradish aioli. (The meat version of the hash comes with bacon, sausage and garlic aioli). My friends ordered dill scrambled eggs, a pumpkin chocolate-chip pancake special, and a Challah sandwich with eggs and cheese with a side of shoestring fries that were amazing. Each dish was surprisingly tastier and had more creative flavors than I was expecting. Everything also tasted better in between sips of the hot, strong Australian coffee.
While it’s not the best brunch option in Philly by any means, I was definitely satisfied with my meal. The outdoor section was lovely and actually ideal for a chilly Sunday morning in the fall and the menu does include some items you may not find in more mainstream cafes in Philly. If you’re looking to change up your breakfast routine – and to meet friendly people with Australian accents – I would definitely add Ants Pants Cafe to your list.
Location: 2212 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146
Hours of Operation: Monday-Friday 7am-4pm. Saturday/Sunday 8am-4pm