London Cafes

The glorious waft of fresh coffee, the smell you expect to find as you wander through a backstreet of Paris, or in an Italian cafe, can be found in the mean streets of London's Soho; deep in the caffeine fuelled heart of London's gay community. Here coffee shops lie side by side offering a wide selection of cakes and a wider selection of coffees.

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It is here that the Al Fresco revolution has settled in, and tables and chairs line the pavements up and down Old Compton Street and other roads in the vicinity.

This coffee bar explosion has changed the area radically; the sex shops that used to line the streets are moving on as the cafes move in. And its good news; the area has more of a cosmopolitan Greenwich Village feel to it, and a buzz at all hours.

Caffe Nero

With branches all over Festival Hall, Regent Street and Piccadilly, Caffe Nero is an ideal cafe to sit after a hard days work or shopping. Tasteful decor and a fine choice of beverages make for a positive, appealing experience. Excellent coffee.

Bar Italia

To experience the eternal appeal of Bar Italia, one must be stumbling home from a night out on a perfect midsummers evening. Turn the corner into Frith Street in Soho, and wander bleary eyed towards the crowd gathering outside the nondescript bar halfway up the street. Wait an eternity for your cappuccino. Perhaps a ciabatta sandwich, or something light to accompany the coffee. Then back outside to perch precariously, half on pavement, half on road (the tables are full) with everyone else. Sip coffee, eat. This twenty four hour bar is into its sixth decade, and the formula has remained the same throughout. It's a Soho institution, and its many imitators look on, green with envy.

Bar Italia
22 Frith Street, W1
London
Tel: 020 7437 4520

Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road (Central or Northern).

Cafe Rouge

London is ruled by restaurant and cafe chains, and it wouldn't matter whether you were sat in Ealing, Stepney or the West End - their drab formula is repeated throughout. But some, and I cite Pizza Express as another example of this, dispel the theory. Ok, the menu is the same at every branch, but the decor and the ambience at each individual branch is what sets it apart from it's competitors. Cafe Rouges are springing up all over town, as they all over the country. They have hit upon a winning formula which has taken them from being a relatively small chain to becoming a major player. The decor is French in style, lots of comfortable pastel colours. You can pop in for a meal (brasserie styled menu) or just for a coffee. There's usually a paper rack by the door as you come in, and attentive staff to serve you. Recommended.

Cafe Rouge
Various locations

Nearest tube: Please ring for directions.

Pret a Manger

Springing up all over town, are the Pret a Manger sandwich bars. Each with it's own individual styling and own unique atmosphere, they are proving to be extremely popular with Londoners who pack the places every weekday lunchtime. The food is every bit as good as it's surroundings, and the bread is baked on the premises. Eat in or take away.

Pret a Manger
Various locations

Nearest tube: Please ring for directions.

Find a Cafe

Cafes organised alphabetically.

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