Cafés have had a great history in England. Their predecessor, the lively coffee shop, provided people with the ideal space to catch up on news, discuss ideas — even act as a forum for social change at key moments in England’s national story.
Nowadays the weekend brunch scene has become a staple of English hospitality life. Sundays in particular are a great portion of the week to invite friends and families out to enjoy coffee, cakes, and weekend treats. Check out our list of some of the best to visit this year.
Hungry for more recommended guides? Sample our guide on Manchester or check out our list on Liverpool to discover the best restaurants to visit this year.
1. Opposite, Leeds
This café is located in the student quarters of Leeds. Opposite the Leeds University, this sleek close-quartered brunch spot is cool for stylish Sundays out, either catching up with friends, discussing matters with fellow students, or just plain idling around.
The Opposite brand has been in business since 2005, and the building “opposite” the university has performed tremendously well, remaining open for well over a decade. Sunday visitors can expect a delightful selection of grilled sandwiches for brunch, then coffee and cake for afters. Lemon cakes, warm croissants, and marshmallow-sprinkled cupcakes are among the rich selection on offer.
Not to forget that coffee purists will find Opposite’s brews impressive. The secret? The owner once stated that simply using a higher coffee to milk ratio makes a big difference.
2. The Perky Peacock, York
York is one of the best preserved medieval cities in England. It comes as no surprise then that our next selection has found its home inside a round stone turret that pokes out from one of the city’s vast historic walls.
The Perky Peacock café resides on the top floor of this impressive building. Inside it’s hard to believe a café can fit in such a marvellous space. The building’s old-style preserved wooden gables support the roof above, while the walls made from masterful stonework remain exposed for all the eye to see.
Everything you could possibly want for a unique Sunday brunch is here: cinnamon and raisin bagels, fruit flapjacks, special coffee roasts brewed from Brazilian and Rwandan beans, introducing flavours of blood orange, milk chocolate, and caramel to this northern English hotspot.
Also, the Perky Peacock overlooks York’s river Ouse, a sheet of silver in afternoon sunlight. So if you’re ever looking for tremendous views among north England’s best brunch cafes, this is your best bet.
3. Idle Hands, Manchester
New customers to this Manchester favourite can assure themselves they’re in good hands. After all, putting care into the overall experience is what Idle Hands is all about — “doing what we love, for as long as we can” as their website says. They serve the best flat white in the city, so make sure to visit them located in Manchester’s northern quarter.
4. Jo and Co, Brighton
England’s famous seaside city is filled with great cafés. Mostly catering for the holiday crowds, most are located near the Queen’s Road, a prime spot for visitors who arrive by train. Look further afield, however, to nearby Hove and visitors will find one of England’s best brunch spots: an Australian small plates specialist by the name of Jo and Co.
Cities in both Australia and New Zealand have thriving brunch scenes, so Jo and Co have helped inject some of Oceania’s enthusiasm and energy into south England. Serving brunch until 3pm, visitors can expect all the favourites, including some quirky tricks. The “Eggs Your Way” delivers on any style, dolloped lovingly onto sourdough toast. Toasted banana bread comes with fresh strawberries and vanilla mascarpone, a soft cream cheese. A delight.
5. The Exploding Bakery, Exeter
Coffee pilgrims will find their ideal destination at this central Exeter café. The Exploding Bakery is on a serious mission. Founded by two schooltime friends, the café has always aimed to (in their own words) “light a fuse” under bad quality brunch meals and “emerge from the flavourless rubble with something resembling a monument to flavour”.
Ambitious, polemical, and committed, the Exploding Bakery is no joke. Browse their website to view their list of international suppliers, for instance, to see that transparency is key to their identity. Their efforts have proved successful. Many Google reviews attest this is the best café in the whole city.
6. Attendant Coffee Roasters, London
The Attendant brand has a handful of successful venues sprinkled atop the map of central London. However, if customers had to go to just one in the list, it would have to be the Fitzrovia café near London’s Oxford Street.
The interior alone could win an award for innovative design. Unapologetically, this café is housed in a Victorian conversion originally built in 1890. The original architecture blends well with contemporary seating and furniture, successfully mixing old and new.
For coffee lovers especially, Attendant is well known for its extras shop. Every branch sells beans to customers who want to taste them at home, sourced from various farms across the globe. Note that the Fitzrovia café operates on a first come first serve basis, finding it fairest to do so in London’s bustling environment. So make sure to plan your arrival to ensure you secure a table.
7. Café St. Pierre, Canterbury
Around the corner from Canterbury’s world famous cathedral, Café St. Pierre has brought a taste of France to this medieval city’s streets. Specialising in French foods, from baguettes to filled croissants, this friendly café is sure to provide a pleasant welcome to any foot-weary pilgrim.
Café St. Pierre maintains a traditional look in a city that prides itself on its historic links to the past. Rest assured, new specialties regularly appear on the menu. To celebrate Saint Patrick’s day, for instance, the café presented beautiful slices of a brown-and-black stout-flavoured chocolate and Guinness pie.
8. Benty Tea Room, Liverpool
Last but not least, a most impressive tearoom and independent café ideal for a Sunday day out. Situated at Benty farm near Liverpool city centre (a twenty-five minute drive away), customers journey through a stretch of woodland to find this charming wooden hut emerging from wide green fields.
Homemade soups and crip toasties are available daily for brunch, but those with a sweet tooth might prefer to dive in and sample the cakes on offer. There is a sumptuous selection of sweet treats from courgette and lime cakes to cranberry Triffin, a crisply white chocolate mix with currants throughout.
Though the tearoom has a limited capacity of twenty-five covers, waiting customers can easily enjoy the surrounding country, including the farm and local woodland. Perfect for a relaxed outing.
All the best brunch cafés in England and beyond can help their customers enjoy waiting for tables. Contact us and find out more.