Soho’s breakfasts are worth waking up early for. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so take some time to do it properly before you knuckle down for a long day at work. Whether you’re looking for a healthy start of have serious morning munchies, there’s somewhere serving up just the ticket.
A Healthy Start
Pure Made for You
What’s on the menu? I’m a lunchtime regular at Pure, but sometimes pop in for breakfast if I’ve had a rushed morning and am in need of a portable breakfast. Their banana-bran muffin, paired with a cup of tea or coffee, is one of my faves. Cake without the guilt. And the bircher muesli is great too – look out for seasonal flavours.
Sit in or take away? With minimal seating and not much atmosphere to the place, I usually take away. Plus, with prices already fairly steep, you’ll want to avoid the obligatory added 10% for staying in.
Pret a Manger
What’s on the menu? Yes, Pret is a mainstream chain – something I generally avoid when there are so many great independents around – but breakfast here is actually pretty good. My go-to is the ‘proper porridge’, which uses jumbo oats simmered for hours to give a creamy and indulgent texture. It’s a far cry from the bowl of gloopy grains you get at your nan’s house! I top my porridge with the fruity five berry ‘compote’ and the ‘mango and seeds’ topper for added crunch. The fruit pots are great if you’re looking for something light – I love the bright and zesty citrus pot.
Sit in or take away? It’s usually pretty busy here with the morning rush of business guys and gals, but if there’s a seat outside on a sunny day, I like to take ten and watch the world go by.
What’s on the menu? There’s rich pickings here – it’s as good a food market as any, with plenty available for breakfast. Porridge and eggs are served from the café, and there’s fresh bread from the bakery. But I’m drawn to the colourful display of exotic fruits. And the yoghurt pots with a layer of fruit smoothie and topped with crunchy granola are a treat.
Sit in or take away? There is seating both indoors where you can watch the food channels and outside where you can watch the morning rush on a sunny day, so take ten and sit in rather than eating at your screen at work!
What’s on the menu? Leon offers fast food breakfast favourites made healthy. The salmon and egg roll is a strong choice – they’re not skimpy on the smoked salmon, the egg is just done so the yolk doesn’t run all over the place but is not dry and overdone, and the spinach is crisp. Everything is married together with a light tarragon yoghurt in a bun made with a mixture of white, brown and barley flours, which gives a soft and airy texture with all the goodness of wholemeal. Or for a carb-free breakfast, go for a poached egg pot with one egg or two – again, I’m a fan of the salmon.
Sit in or take away? Take away – the first and last time I sat in, I felt like I was sat in the back of the kitchen – you basically are – and came out smelling like it too!
What’s on the menu? My dad introduced me to Dishoom’s famous Bombay breakfast many years ago, and I was thrilled when they opened a branch on Kingly Street. I could finally switch out a Friday bacon sarnie breakfast treat with their incredible bacon and egg naan – soft, chewy naan straight from the tandoor, wrapped around thick bacon and a golden fried egg with cool cream cheese and sweet mango chutney. The fire toast is also great – thick cut, spongy toast served with exotic spiced jams, or for something savoury, order a side of the creamy flavour-packed masala beans. I also love the fresh mint tea, which cleanses the palette.
Sit in or take away? Sit in to soak up the post-colonial vibes. Low lighting, tiled floor, dark mahogany and walls adorned with vintage photographs in gold frames perfectly recreate the true Irani café of Bombay.
The Detox Kitchen
What’s on the menu? My top choice here is a wedge egg frittata. There’s a choice between roasted or green veg – the first with soft, sweet peppers and tomato, the latter with chunky broccoli, courgette, onion and peas. Hands down the best frittata I’ve ever eaten. The bakes are good too – you won’t have to feel guilty about having chocolate cake or a muffin for breakfast, as they are all dairy and refined sugar-free and made with lighter oils rather than sat fat laden butter. Or grab a pot of Q’nola to go – the little balls of puffed quinoa go a little soggy in milk, but the flavour is fab. You could use it as a yoghurt topper to keep the crunch.
Sit in or take away? The interior is perfectly pleasant, but I tend to take away as its a tiny café and the queue weaves between the tables, making it a little to claustrophobic for me.
What’s on the menu? Authenticity runs through Koya’s veins. This petite bar offers a true taste of Tokyo with their simple dishes and clean flavours. Presentation is always immaculate, but it’s not style over substance. Koya’s signature kedgeree porridge is a favourite amongst diners. But if you want to start the day like a Japanese local, go for the Japanese Breakfast of grilled fish, miso soup, and pickles, or the Okayu – a traditional savoury rice porridge topped with boiled egg, pickles and tsukudani.
Sit in or take away? Definitely sit in – this isn’t the kind of food you can get to go.
Mojo Juice Bar
What’s on the menu? Mojo has embraced Londoners’ love of smashed avo toast. Get in some healthy morning fats, mashed onto sourdough toast. Follow this with a fiery shot of ginger – knock it back quick! Then grab a lean and green protein ball for mid-morning munchies – a squidgy ball of energy rolled in quality matcha powder.
Sit in or take away? This is the kind of place where you need have no shame eating alone. Pull up chair at the communal table – it’s a friendly place, you might make a new friend!
What’s on the menu? Experience breakfast in Saigon. Start with a decadent Vietnamese coffee, sweetened with condensed milk, then wrap your chops around a crisp French baguette, stuffed with marinated meats, pâté, crunchy veg and herbs – Keû’s signature bahn mi are sure to keep you going all day!
Sit in or take away? These baguettes are perfect for wrapping up and eating on the run on a busy morning.
Le Pain Quotidien
What’s on the menu? Le Pain Quotidien straddles the healthy and not so healthy border. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly some nutritious items on the breakfast menu here, but others are deceptively calorie-laden. Take the matcha tea latte, for example. I see the word ‘matcha’ and think, great, I’ll get my antioxidants in for the day. But this drink is full of sugar. And just because the chia muffin is made with high protein chia seeds and potassium-packed banana, doesn’t mean it’s not a muffin. The lure of freshly baked pastries is often too much to resist, but saying that, I have had a better croissant elsewhere.
The porridge is a healthier option, although it comes drowned in delicious sticky honey – and I tend to add more[!] – or sugary berry compote. And the giant bowlful is enough to fuel two hungry men, let alone just me.
Sit in or take away? The food here is well-presented and the porridge is much nicer eaten from a proper bowl, rather than a paper pot. And there’s always a pleasant hum of breakfast diners, yet plenty of space to sit quietly away from others’ conversations.
What’s on the menu? Freshly baked breads and buns come in wonderful unique flavours here. The chocolate bread is divine, and goes perfectly with a frothy cappuccino – I like to dip mine into the steaming milk.
Sit in or take away? There’s always a buzz about the place, so if you’re looking to escape the crowds, take away. But I quite like Princi’s energy and friendly communal eating setup.
What’s on the menu? Maison’s Bertaux’s acclaimed almond croissant doesn’t disappoint. This mammoth pastry is flakey yet soft, filled with rich frangipane and sprinkled with crunchy toasted almonds. It’s a mean feat to finish the whole thing! The almond croissant may have put Maison Bertaux on the London food map, but my favourite is the pain au chocolat, which is lighter, yet just as indulgent with buttery flakes of golden pastry and a generous filling of smooth bitter-sweet chocolate
Sit in or take away? Stay and soak up the warm hospitality and charm of London’s oldest patisserie. The lady who runs Maison Bertaux has been there since the beginning, and she’s a stern boss, making sure her staff hop to it and checking with customers that the facilities have been kept to a satisfactory standard. She’s a great character and gives the cafe its unique and endearing personality that makes you feel as if you were at your grandmother’s house.
What’s on the menu? Wake up in the Hawaiian tropics. The eclectic cuisine of Hawaii is reflected in Kua’Aina’s menu, which takes a tour around the globe, melding American and European favourites with Indonesian and Asian flavours. For breakfast, treat yourself to a plate of fluffy sugar-dusted pancakes, stacked with crispy bacon and maple leaf syrup, fresh fruits and compote, or silky chocolate sauce if you’re feeling particularly indulgent. Heads up – free breakfasts are often up for grabs, so keep a look out!
Sit in or take away? A dish this yummy deserves you’re full attention, so sit in and enjoy.
The Breakfast Club
What’s on the menu? What isn’t on the menu? The Breakfast Club is renowned for their all-day breakfasts. Its philosophy: why shouldn’t you be able to enjoy a hearty fry-up, tasty avocado toast or towering stack of pancakes at lunch or dinner!? You may want to rock up a little earlier at this joint, or risk being late for work – there are always people queueing up the street.
Sit in or take away? Sit in. After all the standing around to wait for a table, you’ll need a rest. Plus, maple-soaked pancakes and runny baked beans are a little tricky to transport.
Fernandez & Wells
What’s on the menu? Aside from their humorously-named coffees (such as the ‘stumpy’), get your day off to a cracking start with an egg and Scottish black pudding panino, with house-made mayo. Or how about a slice of tart lemon drizzle cake, or spicy ras-el-hanout and molasses loaf?
Sit in or take away? White-washed brick walls and soft ash wood create a calming atmosphere, so stay a while and you’ll be sure to start the day feeling zen.
Foxcroft & Ginger
What’s on the menu? Another muffin maestro. Foxcroft & Ginger serves up light and airy English muffins with an array of fillings. But it’s their ‘cruffins’ for which they are acclaimed: a hybrid mix of the croissant and the muffin, laced with the finest French butter and baked in a muffin tin, these incredible treats are then filled with sweet centres – from raspberry cheesecake to chocolate custard – and dusted with cinnamon sugar.
Sit in or take away? Cop a squat outside if it’s a nice day, as it can get a little cramped inside. Either way, you’ll want to sit to eat and savour every bite.
What’s on the menu? Famous for their Nordic cinnamon rolls, this unassuming Scandi bakery and café serves up breads and pastries made to authentic Nordic recipes and excellent coffee. Their cinnamon buns are based on the Finnish recipe – every Nordic country has its own take on this Northern European treat – and they are not to be missed. Also try the skoleboller: a type of custard bun, and their gravadlax: cured salmon served on traditional rye bread.
Sit in or take away? Nordic Bakery offers calm and order amongst the chaos of Soho’s morning rush. Beyond its heavy wooden door, the inviting wood-lined interior is the ideal setting to gather your thoughts before the working day.