3 Hidden(ish) cafes near Oxford Street
You might think that there would be nothing hidden from view in the vicinity of Oxford Street being one of London’s busiest thoroughfares.
Suprisingly there is. Each of these 3 great cafes is just off Oxford Street – the furthest being probably 2 minutes’ walk away.
Apricot, 136 Charing Cross Road WC2H 0LA
Firstly my favourite has to be Apricot which is a lovely lunchtime spot for great home-made salads. Apricot is on the east side of Charing Cross Road close to the junction with Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Street. According to Google maps they are on the corner of Denmark Place, however Denmark Place is long gone. The cafe is now slap bang next to the Crossrail building works which are gradually encroaching on their space. When I first discovered the cafe last year they had a sheltered outside area. This has now been absorbed into the building works and they are left with a much smaller outside area on the main road. However I never have a problem getting a seat within.
It is very easy to miss this cafe but it is on the opposite side of the road to the American coffee chain beginning with S, a Superdrug and the amazingly still open (and slightly hidden itself) Royal George pub.
What Apricot do best are their lunchboxes. A small box at £4.50 (same price for eat in and takeaway) is ample. You get a choice of several hot dishes – usually salmon, veggie or chicken – and then 2 salads on top of that plus hummus or tzatziki. The salads change every day and are imaginative and tasty.
Apart from the food I love this cafe as the staff are so friendly and recognise and chat to their regular customers which is another reason to return frequently.
There are lots more photos on TripAdvisor including their gorgeous salads and they show how the cafe has shrunk with the encroaching building work. It is a great place for lunch especially if you’re veggie and you will see me in there at least once a week. The cafe is open Monday to Saturday.
SoHostel Coffee Club, 91 Dean Street W1D 3SY
Another cafe almost swallowed up by Crossrail is at the Oxford Street end of Dean Street. This cafe doesn’t have much in the way of signage apart from a blackboard and because of the nearness of the building works it is very easily missed. The pic below is from Google Streetview 4 years ago. The cafe has definitely been tarted up since then although there is much less signage today.
Don’t be put off by the fact it is connected to the hostel which is in the building to the left. I am always somewhat surprised that even with the very cheap food – baked potato, salad and a coffee for around £5 – it is generally very quiet in there.
The decor is lovely, the music is good, the food is cheap, the wifi is free plus all profits from the cafe go to the Arlington homeless charity.
The last hidden(ish) cafe in this post is in Margaret Street, on the Fitzrovia side of Oxford Street.
The Word Cafe, 83 Margaret Street W1
This cafe is hidden in that it is within the London Jesus Centre and although there is a big banner on the outside advertising the fact there is a cafe within, it is very easy to walk past it. It is close to the junction with Marylebone Passage and Wells Street.
Take the steps down to the basement entrance and you will walk directly into the cafe. What is special about this place is its peaceful courtyard. You are again yards from Oxford Street but you would never guess.
The food is extremely well priced – I had a vegetable curry for £5.50 – and apart from a lunch stop it would be a good place to stop for coffee mid shopping spree. It is open Monday to Friday only.
I know I said at the top this was 3 hidden(ish) cafes but I can’t finish without mentioning the French cafe, Chez Mamie, which is in Hanway Street close to Tottenham Court Road station. This lovely cafe has recently got busier which of course is a good thing. The food is good but probably not as cheap as the other places mentioned but worth visiting nonetheless. There is a lot of building work going on in Hanway Street and it is often closed to traffic but it is definitely worth venturing down. There is an interesting two part blogpost on the history of Hanway Street on the Survey of London’s new blog here.
Of course there are other cafes to mention at the other end of Oxford Street but they will follow in a separate blog post in due course. However if you know of any more at the east end of the street please comment below.
If you have enjoyed reading about these cafes you might be interested in coming on one of my walks as they generally feature both historical information and mentions of off the beaten track cafes, cocktail bars etc.
One place where you may not expect to find bargains is Mayfair and next week, on 11th August, as part of Afternoon Tea Week I will be leading my Gingerbread and Tea – a Mayfair stroll walk. Why not join me? More details and how to book are here.
The author of this blog (Joanna Moncrieff) is both a City of Westminster and Clerkenwell and Islington Tour Guide.