London. Nowhere says England to those from outside the country quite like the capital city, whose iconography of Tube station signs, red buses, and black cabs have become the iconography of England. Even in cultural historic memory, the coldest English winter we’re aware of is referred to as “the winter that the Thames froze over”.
The dominance of contemporary iconography has come somewhat late to London, with the Shard finally breaking through the collective associations of Victoriana, the London of Sherlock Holmes and Charles Dickens, the London of the Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace, and making a striking statement of London as a city of style, of architectural boldness and daring; a thoroughly modern city with everything the modern tourist could want.
Which of course includes a great range of cafes, some of which we’ve had a look at, to give you a flavour of the true taste of London.
Top Five Best Cafes in London
#1: Half Moon Cafe
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the main areas of London, and enjoy generous portions of proper English nosh, with coffee that doesn’t get above itself, and gives you a good serving of hot caffeine at a very welcome price, then the traditional greasy spoon enclave that is the Half Moon Cafe on Fulham Palace Road, in Hammersmith, is the place to be.
Service is with a genuine smile, and, if you’re strapped for cash, you can enjoy a good, decent meal and full-size mug of coffee here without any pain at all.
Very much a neighbourhood cafe rather than a tourist trap, this is a nice place to visit if you want to feel like a proper Londoner.
- Epic full English
- Value for money
- Friendly, welcoming vibe and service
- Not one for vegans
#2: E Pellicci (www.epellicci.com)
A workers’ cafe that blends English and Italian staples on Bethnal Green Road, E Pellicci comes across very much as being intrinsically East End, but with an Art Deco styling that will appeal to people from all walks of life.
With friendly staff, this is a cafe for all seasons and all tastes.
- Art Deco
- Friendly East End vibe
- English and Italian classics
#3: Coffee, Cake, and Kisses (www.coffeecakekisses.com)
Warren Street, in leafy, aloof Fitzrovia, might not be somewhere you’d expect to find a community hub for alternative, activist types of all stripes, but Coffee, Cake, and Kisses has set up home here, and become a firm favourite with the edge dwellers and outright outsiders of the capital, who’ll happily travel to Coffee, Cake, and Kisses’ home-away-from-home welcome.
A true hidden gem, Coffee, Cake, and Kisses offers a wide range of vegan options, pleasing a lot of people by offering oat milk as the standard non-dairy option, ensuring that vegans with nut and soya allergies don’t have to feel they’re being “awkward” by asking for something they can actually drink.
Creating bespoke cakes and sweets, as well as offering an excellent cafe and community space, if you’re not the mainstream type, Coffee, Cake, and Kisses is sure to make you feel right at home.
- Alternative, activist vibe
- Community hub
- Oat milk, and plenty of vegan options
#4: 49 Cafe
Offering Italian comfort food, and a fantastic lunchtime salad bar, 49 Cafe, on Marchmont Street in King’s Cross gives you friendly service in a cosy, welcoming space that’s ideal for grabbing a quick working lunch, or taking a little longer to relax and unwind with a top-quality cup of coffee, and indulge in a spot of people watching.
- Great for people watching
- Varied salad bar selection
- Ideal for lunchtime
#5: Raison D’etre (www.raisondetrecafe.com)
While this Kensington cafe is typically warm and welcoming, they don’t offer much for vegans after breakfast, and the options then are very limited. If you’re not of the vegan persuasion, however, you’ll find the best selection of sandwiches in London at Raison D’etre, which is ideally placed for a pit-stop between museum visits.
- Best selection of sandwiches in London
- Ideally placed for those exploring London’s museums