Fans of cafe culture are very well catered for amid London’s bustling metropolis. The UK’s largest city is naturally home to a dizzying array of top eateries, offering a wide array of drink and food options that will appeal to all manner of visitor - be they business travellers looking for a quick bite and a hot coffee, or sightseers eager to seek out some of the capital’s more unusual cafe locations or famous culinary traditions. And, with everything from award-winners to popular TV and film shooting locations, this list of top cafes will hopefully provide a good starting off point for those eager to explore some of the city’s brunch and lunch spots.
1. Wilton Way Cafe
Not just a cafe but a creative hub for the Hackney community, The Cafe in Wilton Way offers something a little different to the normal dining experience. This means that, alongside such tasty treats as smoked mackerel, toasted banana bread and traditional bacon baps, visitors to the cafe will also be visiting the home of London Fields Radio and an art gallery. Indeed, the walls inside are decked with art by local talent which has been chosen by the cafe manager. And as for the radio station, there’s even a DJ booth in-situ in a corner of the cafe - so expect to listen to shows being presented live during your visit.
Wilton Way Cafe
Address: 63 Wilton Way, London E8 1BG
Opening Hours: Mondays to Saturdays - 8am-5pm; Sundays - 9am-4pm
Website: Wilton Way Cafe
2. E Pellicci
If it’s a family-run affair with some serious pedigree behind it you’re after, then E Pellicci in east London is well worth checking out. This award-winning cafe has been operating for more than 100 years and is home to a truly unique interior - wood panelled decor which was actually carved by one of the cafe’s regular customers back in the 1940s. Indeed, such was the quality of the work that the cafe now enjoys grade II listed status. Of course, there’s more to a cafe than just its appearance - and thankfully its menu has proven equally popular down the years. Its all-day breakfasts are famous among past customers, while its mix of grilled and pasta dishes are so popular that the cafe is bustling with activity.
Address: 332 Bethnal Green Road, London, UK, E2 0AG
Website: E Pellicci
3. Nude Espresso
Not just one cafe, but in fact one of three sites that have sprung up in east London in the past decade. Its flagship cafe in Hanbury Street only opened as recently as 2008, but its high quality roasted coffees earned such a following that further cafes have sprung up in Bell Lane and also next to London’s famous Spitalfields market. Its Hanbury Street outlet is open from 7.30am on weekdays too, enabling you to grab a tasty caffeine injection before a busy day enjoying the sights of the city. It also offers brunch seven days a week. And if you crave further blends from London’s self-styled ‘leading micro-roastery’, you can even pick up some up at their online shop.
Address: 25 Hanbury Street, London, E1 6QR
Website: Nude Espresso
4. Fernandez & Wells
Another overnight success story which has expanded to multiple outlets in just over a decade, Fernandez & Wells today operates four sites - despite the first only opening as recently as January 2007. It now operates in such popular locations as London’s famous Somerset House, as well as Exhibition Road, Duke Street and Denmark Street. Some of the sites are open as late as 11pm at night, serving a mix of wines and their own coffee blends. Their food is also very popular, offering a mix of fine sandwiches, cured meats, cheeses, cakes and preserves.
Fernandez & Wells - Somerset House
Address: Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA
Website: Fernandez & Wells
5. Leila's Place
If it’s local food you’re after then dishes don’t come much more locally sourced than the artisan creations at Leila’s Shop in Shoreditch. This site - a mixture of grocery store and cafe - features a range of dishes and cake treats that have been produced using ingredients bought from the local community’s neighbouring grocers, lending the cafe a rustic charm which has won plenty of fans among previous visitors. Its mix of dishes have also earned it praise in the past - from devilishly tempting chocolate and fruit combos to popular brunch dishes.
Address: 17 Calvert Avenue, London, E2 7JP
Website: Leila’s Place
6. J+A Cafe
This popular cafe in a Clerkenwell courtyard delights daytime visitors with a range of Irish home food and its healthy baking and cooking. And the simple, wholesome snacks and dishes - combined with its stylish and rustic exposed brick wall interior - certainly have their charms. So much so, in fact, that London’s famous newspaper, the Evening Standard, praised its “simple and unpretentious” setting and remarked on its “warm and rustic feel”. What’s more, as well as being open seven days a week, the owners also operate an adjacent bar in the same street, which also offers food alongside alcoholic refreshments.
Address: J+A Cafe, 4 Sutton Lane, London, EC1M 5PU
Website: J+A Cafe
7. Drink Shop Do
Another option which mixes cafe and bar - this time on the same Kings Cross site - Drink Shop Do is open seven days a week from mid-morning and offers a mix of flatbreads, bagels and salads for lunches, before switching to classic bar snack food of an evening, including tasty chicken wings and nachos, among others. And no self-respecting cafe selection would be complete without an ever-changing range of cakes to enjoy. Those feeling extra peckish may wish to seek out the Bottomless Brunch - two-hour sessions of a weekend that are full of bagels, beers and bubbly. There are even special events such as cocktail masterclasses and Halloween pumpkin carving - should you wish to try your hand at something a little different.
Drink Shop Do
Address: 9 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London, N1 9DX
Website: Drink Shop Do
8. The Bridge
This cafe bar and grill, which is located within a converted warehouse in Shoreditch, will make for a fascinating destination for a bite or two to eat. Its eclectic decor - a mix of neon lights, Americana signs and Victorian kitsch - will ensure a memorable visit. What’s more, its combination of warm lighting and decor, coupled with a lack of windows, means you’ll be able to completely escape the outside world while you tuck into your coffees and food. The generous opening hours, which run from 4pm/5pm until late, seven days a week, mean you may also wish to consider it as a possible destination for evening drinks.
Address: 15 Kingsland Road, London, E2 8AE
Website: The Bridge Facebook page
9. Attendant Fitzrovia
Now how’s this for an unusual and stylish cafe option? One of three Attendant cafes within the city, this small company’s Fitzrovia outlet is located within the converted interior of a late Victorian era public toilet. Its Victorian roots mean the building is surprisingly stylish, given its past history, and dates back to 1890. It had lain idle for more than 50 years before being given its phoenix-like resurrection and transformation, and is now one of the trendier cafes in London - with a glowing reputation among customers to boot. Indeed, its quirky past and cool setting have proven particular highlights, as has the cafe’s line of coffee blends. What’s more, it is only five minutes from the world-famous shops of London’s Oxford Street on foot, making it a good option for those looking to take a break from their retail therapy.
Address: 27a Foley Street, London, W1W 6DY
Website: Attendant Fitzrovia
10. Regency Cafe
This traditional, no-frills cafe on the border between Pimlico and Westminster may not have the looks of some of the other entries on the list - although its Art Deco exterior earns it a few style points - but the quality of its food means it really packs in the punters. Indeed, its ability to tantalise those taste buds has earned it a glowing reputation - it scores an impressive 4.7 out of five from hundreds of Google reviews and its traditional English breakfast has become a right of passage for many visitors to the city. Dating back to 1946, the art deco stylings of its exterior have also made it a popular spot as a filming location - featuring in such movies as Brighton Rock and Layer Cake, as well as major TV series such as Rescue Me and Judge John Deed.
Address: 17-19 Regency Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 4BY
Website: Regency Cafe
London's cafe culture awaits
Whatever your taste, London’s thriving cafe culture means there are options to suit all palettes and wallets during a visit to this fine city. Whether you crave a simple slap-up breakfast feast, unusual surroundings or a cafe that also doubles as an evening destination, there’s an option for you.
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