Classic Cafes in the Capital

Old authentic greasy spoons or just a traditional, honest cafe that’s good value and friendly are becoming an increasingly rare find. So yesterday I finally ticked off one ‘caf’ that’s been on my list for yonks… The ‘Regency Cafe‘ in Westminster.

Regency Cafe

I had recognised it as the backdrop to a Maxine Peake photo shoot in the May of Vogue.
And it also featured in February’s BBC drama ‘Apple Tree Yard’. So Saturday morning my lovely friends and I were greeted by a long queue. Hmm, I know we British like to queue but …

We soon established that there seemed to be an cafe etiquette that worked pretty well. Order your food at the counter before finding a seat. Your name is taken by the friendly staff. Soon after you’re sitting down, your name is called out for you to collect your order.

Builders tea and sausage sandwiches did the trick. Smiles all round! Yellow Formica tables, red and white gingham half curtains and lots of pictures on the wall created an atmosphere that stepped back in time to the 1940s. Indeed, ‘Established 1943’ was painted above the door.

We were all pleased with our meeting place, and I have a sneaky feeling we’ll be meeting there for a long time to come.

I used to go to a fantastic Italian greasy spoon called the ‘New Piccadilly‘ just tucked away behind Piccadilly Circus for many years. It sadly closed due to the street being redeveloped.

New Piccadilly Cafe


The owner Lorenzo had started helping out his aunt and uncle as an 8 year old boy, finally taking it over himself years later. It was a home from home for a quite bite to eat with a friend after work. The decor hadn’t changed since the 1950s, and so, like the Regency, became a popular choice for magazine fashion shoots and film.
The lovely waiters wore crisp, white uniforms and have me a copy of the menu just before they closed. I had it framed of course to remind me of the lovely memories.

Another Italian cafe with a similar vibe, (and luckily still open) is ‘E. Pellicci‘ on Bethnal Green Road. Lots of dark wood panelling create a cosy atmosphere and There are even a few tables outside when the weather is warm enough to enjoy alfresco dining, watching the world go by.

Pellicci Cafe

Columbia Road on Sunday mornings (flower market and all things cool and creative!) has ‘Cafe Columbia‘, a long running family-run caf selling just bagels with various fillings, with a few tables out the back. They’re keeping it simple, and I love it for that reason. A quick bagel snack and cuppa to rest the legs before battling the crowds again, trying not to crush the lovely plants and flowers you’ve just bought!