Yesterday I had a very enjoyable Mothers Day; breakfast in bed, followed by a lovely Spring walk by the River Ouse into York, culminating in a pit-stop at De Clare’s new Cafe in Peter Lane and a look around a few of the York Open Studios (more on that in a future post). I have been to De Clare’s other deli on Lendal but this was my first visit to their latest venture and, after much discussion on the walk home, we agreed it definitely made the ‘Top Cafe’s in York’ list. York, being a magnet for tourists, has a plethora of Cafe’s and eateries, but in my opinion many take advantage of the high turnover of visitors and focus on providing fast food at high prices. So, in my quest for the perfect cafe, that will (or should) attract tourists and visitors but also provide a happy hang-out for locals, here is my criteria:
- Serve delicious food that preferably showcases local produce
- Have a pleasing-on-the-eye interior (pram-friendly too please)
- Provide friendly and helpful service
- Should feel like a ‘home-from-home’ and ideally provide wi-fi access, newspapers and other goodies to encourage lingering.
- Be independent
With so many bistros, bars, fusion places, restaurants, what does define the word Cafe these days? To me, it’s a place open for all (or most of the day), that serves tea & cakes, comprehensive breakfast and lunch dishes (and preferably, but not imperatively crosses over into evening meals) but is more laid-back than a restaurant. It serves a good selection of hot & cold drinks, and ideally booze. Bearing this in mind, and in no particular order, here is my pick of the best Cafe’s in York:
The Pig & Pastry.
I could go on and on throwing superlatives at you about the Pig & Pastry. Loved by most of York, and all of local South Bankers, the breakfast and lunch dishes offer superb cooking at really affordable prices. For brunch it’s always hard to choose between their heavenly eggs benedict or waffles with bacon and maple syrup and their lunch dishes are varied, inspired and always tasty. They also serve homemade bread, scrumptious cakes and, even when jam-packed, never ever rush you. The only downside is actually getting a table at busy times.
The Pig & Pastry, 35 Bishopthorpe Road, York
Having been a fan of De Clare’s deli on Lendal ( a good place to pick up a sandwich to eat in the Museum Gardens on a sunny day), this was my first trip to their Cafe. It’s more than a Cafe really, with a long and interesting wine list and a Spanish-influenced menu of light bites and mains. The Cafe is white throughout with comfy white designer tables and chairs and pretty chandeliers adding interest. The minimalist interior was a good backdrop for both the window displays of Spanish groceries and cakes and the food. We shared a plate of chorizo and potato revuelta which was a tasty combination of chorizo (sourced from my favourite place to eat in London, Brindisia) running into scrambled egg and potato. They didn’t have high chairs but were very accommodating of the pram, and as it was also Open Studios they had paper and crayons for my one year old to play with.
De Clare, Peter Lane & Lendal, York.
Cafe No. 8.
Cafe No. 8 call themselves a ‘Bistro’ but to me they check all the boxes above. Another locals favourite, you can read my review of Cafe No. 8 here. From proper breakfasts to Sunday lunch to inventive lunch dishes using local produce, it is always top of my list to recommend visitors to York. It’s situated on one of York’s most interesting shopping streets Gillygate. In addition, it is an exceptional place for an evening meal, when the ambience changes and the food steps up a level of sophistication. There is a pretty garden for al fresco eating in the summer too.
Cafe No. 8, 8 Gillygate, York
Kennedy’s Bar & Cafe
Kennedy’s has gone from strength to strength over the years and always seems to be a good mix of tourists and locals. Located just off Stonegate, York’s prettiest shopping street, it’s a great bet for a stop when shopping in York. I have always had excellent quality lunches here and they have a lovely roof-top terrace which is a little Oasis in the middle of the City. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in the heart of York’s most vibrant area.
Kennedy’s Bar & Restaurant, 1 Little Stonegate, York
Please let me know if you think I have missed somewhere great – let me know your favourites and why!