The Best Cafés And Coffee Shops in Oxford

DXMMYC Breakfast with croissants and coffee.
DXMMYC Breakfast with croissants and coffee. | DXMMYC_© The Picture Pantry _ Alamy Stock Photo
Sarah Dawson

Oxford’s café culture is on the rise. From the coolest brunch hangouts to the weird and wonderful world of the board game café, here are some of the best places to eat and drink in this beautiful city.

Vaults and Garden

This central café has got it covered whatever the weather. If it’s raining, cosy up inside under the stunning vaulted ceilings of the University’s Old Congregation House with a hot chocolate; if the sun is shining head out into the garden, and enjoy your tea with incredible views of Radcliffe Camera. Vaults and Garden serves breakfast and lunch, as well as a good selection of cakes and scone, but it’s the little extras – like offering picnic blankets in the summer and hot water bottles in the winter – that makes this place so special.

The Missing Bean

If you’re after a really good cup of coffee in Oxford, make The Missing Bean your first call. This buzzy, independent espresso bar was inspired by the cool coffee shops of Sydney, and serves up great coffee in a laid-back atmosphere. The owners are serious about their coffee – they even have their own micro roaster just down the road, where they roast their own beans on a weekly basis.

The Grand Café

No trip to Oxford is complete without a visit to the historic Grand Café. Sat on the site of the first coffee house in England, this elegant, gilded café is the place to head for a sophisticated high tea. Work your way through the delicious finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and petit fours, alongside a pot of tea. Or, if you’re the glamorous surroundings have left you feeling particularly extravagant, treat yourself to a salted caramel éclair and an espresso martini.

The Handle Bar

The ultimate breakfast spot in Oxford has to be The Handle Bar. From the cool, Instagram-worthy interiors and the friendly atmosphere to the top-class coffee and delicious menu (how will you pick between the coconut pancake stack and the smashed avocado on toast with tomato and wild garlic?), this popular café is the perfect place to spend a lazy Saturday morning. There are plenty of veggie and vegan options on the menu too.

The Natural Bread Company

If the smell of freshly baked bread doesn’t draw you into the café, the display of tempting cakes and pastries will! The Natural Bread Company is an artisan bakery in the heart of Oxford, with a small café inside. Here you can sample first-hand the delicious freshly made produce; whether that’s sourdough toast with your Full English or an afternoon pot of tea with a slice of homemade orange polenta cake. And of course it would be rude not to stock up on some warm loaves and pastries at the shop before you leave…!

The Jericho Café

Tucked away in Oxford’s coolest neighbourhood, The Jericho Café is a friendly, bustling café serving great food from morning ‘till night. Although it’s just minutes from the city centre, The Jericho Café feels a world away from Oxford’s main tourist trail; something that only adds to its appeal. Using mainly local suppliers, the food and coffee is excellent and the award-winning all-day brunch is well worth halting an afternoon of sight-seeing for.

Thirsty Meeples

Something of an Oxford institution, Thirsty Meeples is the city’s first and only board game café. With over 2,500 games to choose from, you’re invited to grab a table, pick your game and get competitive over a cup of great coffee or craft beer. The food menu is small but perfectly formed, with a choice of freshly made sandwiches, hot snacks and bowls of nuts, crisps and sweets for when your attention is on the game! But it’s not really the food people come here for, it’s the nostalgia kick of spending an afternoon playing board games you forget, or never knew, existed. Thirsty Meeples can get busy very quickly, so it’s always best to book ahead if you can, especially if you’re coming with a large group of friends.

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