10 Cool Cafés For A Low-Key Lunch

Catching up with friends over food is always a winning combo, but sometimes we don’t fancy a full-on affair. Enter these totally Instagrammable cafés, where light dishes and covetable interiors collide to create the ultimate relaxed backdrop…

Après Food Co, Clerkenwell

Après Food Co is a small, leafy café offering coffee and health-conscious breakfasts, lunches – and more recently – early dinners. Run by a duo with countless hours in nutritional therapy training, the menu uses fairly-traded and organic produce, and never uses gluten or refined sugar. Not that you’ll notice when you’re eating it: when it comes to the menu, expect tasty dishes such as sweet potato and caramelised red onion hash, topped with a poached egg; courgette and sweetcorn fritters served with avocado, poached egg and red pepper chilli jam; and chicken noodles served with Thai peanut sauce.

72 St John Street, Clerkenwell, EC1M 4DT

Visit ApresFood.com

Milk Beach, Queen’s Park

Milk Beach is a café and natural wine bar in Queen’s Park. Named after the eponymous Sydney beach, this is an Aussie-inspired eatery which launched in October 2018. When it comes to brunch, expect coddled eggs with sweet potato puree and sourdough soldiers, or banana bread with espresso cream cheese. In the evenings, come back for natural wines and small plates, including beef cheek pappardelle and Shaoxing poached bass. To top it off, one of the owners is a two-time UK Coffee Roasting Champion. As such, the team sources specialty coffees from around the world which are traceable to the farm, and carefully roast them themselves.

19 Lonsdale Road, Queen's Park, NW6 6RA

Visit MilkBeach.com

Aida Cafe, Shoreditch

Home of the Insta-famous rose latte (rose syrup, organic beetroot juice, milk, dried rose petals), Aida is located inside a vintage clothing store on Shoreditch High Street. Guests can take a seat at one of the long wooden tables, and choose between sipping classic coffees, fresh smoothies, organic pressed juices or the team’s speciality ‘wonder lattes’: matcha, turmeric, chai and rose, along with a selection of homemade cakes and pasties. We defy you to visit without being tempted by the homeware or jewellery sections of the store.

133 Shoreditch High Street, Shoreditch, E1 6JE

Visit AidaShoreditch.co.uk

Palm Vaults, Hackney

A veritable influencer's paradise, and strong contender for the title of ‘London’s most Instagrammable café, this brunch and coffee spot is decked out in entirely green and pink tones. From the Wes Anderson-style colour scheme to the cutesy cakes at the counter, everything here is designed with the Insta-crowd in mind. When it comes to food, Palm Vaults offers a vegetarian menu, where gluten-free and vegan options abound. We like that the team has a no laptop policy, and the fact that dogs are more than welcome. Get here early at the weekends if you want a table though (it doesn’t take bookings), or you'll have to battle it out with the bloggers.

411 Mare Street, Hackney, E8 1HY

Visit PalmVaults.com

Scarlett Green, Soho

Located in the centre of Soho, Scarlett Green draws upon Melbourne and Sydney café culture to deliver all-day Antipodean-inspired food and cocktails. The kitchen moves effortlessly from brunch and healthy lunchtime dishes to innovative evening sharing plates centred around a custom made Josper grill – we like the halloumi fries with mint and pomegranate yoghurt. Elsewhere, the bar serves up perfectly executed flat whites and fresh smoothies from 7am and throughout the day shifts up a gear to a buzzing late-night bar complete with cocktails and the capital’s largest Australian wine list, accompanied by live acoustic music and DJ sets daily from 6pm.

4 Noel Street, Soho, W1F 8GB

Visit DaisyGreenFood.com

Pear Tree Café, Battersea Park

In the middle of Battersea Park, right on the river, Pear Tree Café has been a favourite fixture of south-London locals since it was opened by Annabel Partridge and Will Burrett in autumn 2016. The café offers beautiful views across the boating lake and a seasonally changing menu in a relaxed setting. When it comes to food, this place has credentials: Annabel and Will met at Petersham Nurseries where they worked with head chef Skye Gyngell, with whom they then went on to open Spring at Somerset House. Expect to find the likes of grilled rump steak sandwich with horseradish cream and onion jam; sweet potato and chickpea curry with grilled flatbread; and roasted pumpkin toast with feta on the menu.

Lakeside Cafe, Battersea Park, SW11 4NJ

Visit PearTreeCafe.co.uk

Hally's, Parsons Green

Hally's ethos is all about serving healthy, Californian-inspired food using organic and ethical produce as much as possible. Kitted out like a Californian beach house (complete with reclaimed wood floors, pastel-dipped chairs, white clapboarding and neon signage), it offers a fresh, bright atmosphere which makes guests want to linger from breakfast to afternoon tea. Within, you’ll find Monmouth organic coffee, craft beer and affordable boutique world wine. Expect daily changing salads, an array of delicious cakes and US favourites such as pulled pork and burgers. It's dog-friendly too – owner Anna's Irish Terrier Arthur is a regular.

60 New King's Road, Fulham, SW6 4LS

Visit HallysLondon.com

Brick House Bakery, East Dulwich and Peckham Rye

We’re big fans of Brick House, the duo of bakeries in East Dulwich and Peckham specialising in slow-fermentation, San Francisco-style sourdough. The modern cafés serve seasonal menus based on the team’s sourdoughs and other homemade products such as charcuterie, jams, pickles, chutneys and pastries. We like to head in for brunch and always order the toasted brioche with fresh fig, mascarpone, ginger crumble and honey at £8.50.

1 Zenoria Street, East Dulwich, SE22 8HP and 12-16 Blenheim Grove, Peckham Rye, SE15 4QL

Visit BrickHouseBread.com

Buhler and Co, Walthamstow

This bright neighbourhood spot in Walthamstow brings together myriad local suppliers to create a top-notch place to relax with a coffee: SL favourite Climpson & Sons supplies the coffee, milk comes from The Estate Dairy, Seven Seeded bakes its bread, sodas come from Square Roots, Chegworth Valley and Moju drop of their juices, and Howling Hops is stocked in the beer fridge. Food across the board has a global influence (think everything from bao to tacos), and its walls are host to ever-changing exhibitions.

8 Chingford Road, Walthamstow, E17 4PJ

Visit BuhlerAndCo.com

E5 Bakehouse, London Fields

E5 Bakehouse is an east London artisan bakery and coffee shop, with a focus on sourdough. Using organic, locally-sourced ingredients, the team serves daily-baked breads, fresh lunches, homemade cakes (the Bakewell tart is to die for) and coffee from its own roast house. Inspired? Once a week, the head bakers share their knowledge and expertise in a weekly bread course – make sure to book ahead. At the end of 2017, the team launched the E5 Roasthouse, where they roast their own coffee for both sites – working alongside the Refugee Council to provide training for refugees.

395 Mentmore Terrace, London Fields, E8 3PH

Visit E5Bakehouse.com

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