Some consider Kolkata to be a sleepy, slow-paced city that had its heyday in the British Raj. But, there’s more to it than just that. In the last year, there has been a renaissance of sorts - there are new cafes coming up every few months, each with a unique vibe and positioning. Find everything from Tex-Mex avocado salad to the classic French croque madame to the best freshly-brewed cappuccino complete with latte art at these spots that you’ll want to sit at for hours.
Attached to a store selling artisanal goods, this quaint café has fast become a spot to meet over a cup of coffee and an afternoon of shopping. The hipster vibe is on point with the quirky pool-tile tables, acrylic chairs, a ceramic cow-shaped dish to pour milk from, waiters dressed in ikat shirts. Take a look at the locally-made pottery or woven dresses and pants while you wait for a table. With sandwiches, salads, pastas, bruschetta and more, there’s enough to choose from if you want a heavier meal or a light snack to go with tea. On the menu, you can’t go wrong with their avocado salad or pesto mozzarella bruschetta. Sienna Cafe sources their bread from a local bakery; the raisin bread that is served with the cream cheese and walnut crostini is my favorite, almost reminiscent of a cinnamon raisin bagel.
8th Day Café undoubtedly serves the best coffee in Kolkata. Their espresso drinks are made with Indian-sourced Blue Tokai beans and the expertise of owners and managers who are trained in everything coffee-related. If you’re a tea person, they have a wide range of teas from the renowned Glenburn estate as well. In terms of food, pick from house-made bagel sandwiches, hummus wraps, eggs all day, yoghurt and granola and a plethora of sweet treats. Don’t miss Auntie Kay’s Chocolate Chunk Cookie, served warm and straight from the heart.
Spend hours at the café alone, choosing from their small library of books or with your family and friends, picking from their collection of games including Scrabble, Uno, Life, Settlers of Catan and more. You’ll often see the owner Grant Walsh checking in with customers to make sure they’re happy with their coffee and food.
This French-inspired café is located in Hindustan Park, an area that is fast becoming a haven for stores selling Made in India artisanal goods and cafes. The décor is complete with monochromatic flooring, a pastry counter out front and artsy prints and paintings covering every wall. LMDD is open all day and offers a vast menu to choose from at every meal time. Choose from French classics like French onion soup, croque monsieur and madame or just comfort food like club sandwiches, chilli cheese toast and a sinful chocolate tart.
Turn your day downside-up with a cupcake and a cappuccino at Mrs. Magpie. The vintage floral décor and afternoon special (with scones, sandwiches, assorted mini sweet treats and a large pot of tea) make Mrs. Magpie the perfect spot for an afternoon rendezvous. The menu has more than enough on offer to satisfy your sweet tooth or savoury sandwich cravings. They serve over a dozen kinds of cupcakes, including mini-sized cupcakes so you can try more than just one. If you love Nutella, don’t miss the nutty praline flavour. Mrs. Magpie has two locations.
This café is worth a visit if you’re a die-hard fan of the TV sitcom, Friends. The spot, somewhat modeled after Central Perk, is filled with Friends paraphernalia. Fans will enjoy reminiscing the blue and green apartment doors, the dog showpiece from Joey’s apartment, eating Ross’ moist maker sandwich and watching the show running in the background. The menu offers a mix of café classics like fries, garlic bread with cheese, falafels and dishes inspired by the show like pizza, cheesecake and Trifle pudding. Go for the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. memories and to fight over a spot on the couch.
The author recently moved back to India after studying at the University of Michigan and working at Goldman Sachs in New York. She shares recipes and travel tips on her blogThe India Edition.