Greasy Spoons: London’s Best Retro Cafes

Who doesn’t love a hearty fry up when you’ve got a hazy head from the night before? Sure, London might be home to some great brunch spots but sometimes you just want somewhere understated to go for simple food served well. Which is why we’ve turned out attention to the greasy spoon, the humble caff that finds its place on every high street corner.

From neighbourhood favourites to red and white checked curtained classics, these are London’s best retro cafes.

Norman’s Cafe

Helping to make the greasy spoon cool again is Norman’s Cafe, the classic caff from Richie Hayes and Elliot Kaye. Since opening in the peak of the pandemic, they’ve quickly garnered a cult following on Instagram showing off their hearty British breakfasts. 

This modern cafe takes inspiration from the humble greasy spoons, featuring everything from red and white gingham tablecloths and curtains to the old-school shop front. The menu serves up everything from cheesy beans on toast to bubble and squeak, sausage, chips and beans to chicken escalope sandwich with garlic mayo and red leicester.

Helping to make the greasy spoon cool again...

Right now, they’ve teamed up with burger maestros Patty&Bun to create a month-long special to raise money for Cook for Ukraine, in support of the crisis in Ukraine. The special includes a Clarence Court egg, hash brown, red leicester, aged beef patty, grilled onions and brown sauce stacked in a potato bun.


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167 Junction Road, Tufnell Park, N19 5PZ

The Electric Cafe

A family favourite for over 40 years, The Electric Cafe is an old-time gem. Located in West Norwood and Tulse Hill, the cafe serves up all of the classics, from hearty English breakfasts and builders tea to bacon butties and eggy baps. All served with lashings of brown sauce, red sauce, mustard and S&P, packaged in retro squeezy bottles. 

Renowned for its old school charm, this cafe has been the backdrop for many a photoshoot and film sets, including BBC’s sitcom, Jerk.


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258 Norwood Road, Norwood, SE27 9AJ

Regency Cafe

Head back in time and enter the art deco era at Regency Cafe. The space inside is abrim with photographs of Tottenham Hotspur football players, tiled walls and novelty red and white checked curtains. 

It’s featured in the likes of BBC series Rescue Me, London Spy and Judge John Deed, as well as films Pride, Brighton Rock and Layer Cake so is great for film and TV fans looking to get a slice of the sweet life. Expect all of the usuals served up for a taste of nostalgia.

17 – 19 Regency Street, Westminster, SW1P 4BY

E Pellicci

From breakfast favourites, like the classic fry-ups and pancakes, to the cafe staples including steak pie, chicken escalope and ham, egg and twice cooked chips, E Pellicci is the epitome of a British caff. But delve a little deeper into the menu and the cafe’s history and you’ll find the cafe nods to Italy too, serving up pasta dishes galore. 

It’s been an East London institute since opening its doors in 1900 and continues to champion its family-run heritage.

332 Bethnal Green Road, E2 0AG

Mario’s Cafe

Starting life as ‘Tony’s Cafe’ back in the late 1950s, Mario’s still to this day carries its history and charm today. Now owned by Mario’s grandson, the cafe serves up all of the usual breakfast and lunch favourites from eggs florentine and omelettes to lasagna, spaghetti with bolognese and chicken escalope.

6 Kelly Street, NW1 8PH

Terry’s Cafe

Home to hundreds of old photographs, crockery and trinkets, Terry’s Cafe is a charming spot for breakfast, lunch or even a cuppa. Its signature red shop front is striking, but its personality really comes to life as soon as you step inside the door. 

Set up by Terry back in 1982, the son of a pastry cook and an Army chef, it seemed natural for him to follow in his parents footsteps and he didn’t look back. It’s now been taken over by his son Austin, who has been working there since he was just 14 years old. Championing its history, there’s a great range of fry ups, toasts, breakfast rolls and sandwiches you can’t fault.

156 – 158 Great Suffolk Street, SE1 1PE

Maggie’s Cafe

Thriving since it opened 30 years ago, Maggie’s Cafe serves up traditional home cooking, a loving family atmosphere and excellent customer service. The Lewisham joint is owned by owner Maggie and prides itself on its Irish cuisine, from egg, bacon and bubble with fried toast to toasted tea cakes and jam. Not to mention bottomless cuppas.

320 – 322 Lewisham Road, SE13 7PA

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