By Kingfisher Visitor Guides
Few cities can rival York’s mix of cafes. As eclectic as they are classy, these gems offer every sort of snack and meal to replenish the weary shopper and sightseer.
Unique and unusual
Bar Convent, perhaps York’s most unusual venue, is home to the sisters of an ancient religious order. Established as a school for Catholic girls in 1686, the surviving Grade 1-listed building dates back to the 1760s and includes a top-notch cafe. As you might expect, the prevailing atmosphere is peace and quiet, particularly in the beautiful garden, which allows you to fully savour the home-made soups, sandwiches and desserts.
It is not the only cafe found in an unusual location: The Perky Peacock is a coffee shop housed inside a round, medieval tower on the banks of the River Ouse. You can now enjoy a cuppa atop one of the city’s great fortifications: Gatehouse Coffee is housed in Walmgate Bar, the only gateway still with its own Barbican. And Dyls Café Bar is found in the Motor House built onto Skeldergate Bridge. It reopened in 2017 after a major refurb.
There’s a real talking point inside Bean & Gone Coffee at Bootham Bar – a glass floor which shows the Roman street and wall beneath. And if you ever wondered what it was like dining in luxury during the golden age of steam locomotion, the Countess Of York is for you. A beautifully-restored railway carriage in the National Railway Museum, it serves up afternoon tea and dinners for pre-booked groups.
The Double Dutch Pancake House serves sweet and savoury pancakes and other Dutch treats on Church Street. Shambles Kitchen proves that fast food can be good food, with pulled pork and beef brisket pastrami two regular favourites.
Bar Convent, perhaps York’s most unusual venue, is home to the sisters of an ancient religious order. Established as a school for Catholic girls in 1686, the surviving Grade 1-listed building dates back to the 1760s and includes a top-notch cafe
Time for tea
York’s first Japanese Tea House opened on Blake Street after a successful crowdfunding campaign and run by Tatsu Ozaki from Osaka and his partner Frankie, the Ippuku Tea House is the real deal with Japanese food, drink and ceremony. And there’s a garden complete with red parasol to enjoy in summer. While the tea house is founded on centuries of tradition, Random Encounter on Gillygate is altogether more contemporary. This is York’s first pop culture cafe, offering video games, board games, books, live sports and films alongside the food and drink.
But if music is more your thing, head to Micklegate. FortyFive Vinyl Café serves up light lunches and snacks to a soundtrack of vinyl records – and you can browse and buy old and new albums too. Crumbs, found on beautiful College Street next to the Minster, is no mere cafe but rather a “cupcakery”. With a choice of classic and deluxe flavours, this is serious treat time – and they also sell their wares from a caravan next to the Minster. The nearby Vanilla Café is a great afternoon tea spot. Over on Blake Street, Mannion & Co is run by a local family, with fresh bread baked daily.