Here’s your ultimate guide to Bahrain’s coffee houses, from those serving up traditional Arabic qahwa to French-style patisseries and American diners.
Inspired by the tea room trend of 20th-century Paris, this luxurious French patisserie is what dreams are made of. They opened in 2018, but already have discerning diners across the Kingdom coming back for more. Their breakfast and brunch options include French classics like croissants and foie gras, and they also have a wide range of classic and seasonal pastries. L’Africain, their signature hot chocolate, and the Mont-Blanc, their signature meringue topped with whipped cream, are must-tries – these recipes have been preserved and served in the same way for over a century. There’s also a selection of packaged confectionery you can buy, like candied chestnuts, caramels, jams and bottled hot chocolate. Austrian confectioner Antoine Rumpelmayer founded the first Angelina Paris in 1903 and since then, they’ve expanded into other parts of France, Asia and the Middle East.
Located in Seef Mall, Bahrain’s new extension, this café is the ultimate destination for chocolate lovers. They have a few tables and chairs laid out in the area in front of the café, enticing passersby into the mall with the rich aroma of artisan chocolate. Their menu is crafted by renowned American pastry chef Antonio Bachour, who infuses local flavours in his creations, such as cardamom mille-feuille. Their chocolate fondue, which is served with fresh fruit, marshmallows and mini cakes, is very popular. Maya La Chocolaterie also has an exotic retail range of bonbons, pralines, nuts and sugar-free chocolates that you can buy. Their 1001 Collection is a great souvenir or gifting idea and combines Arabian flavours and spices, including rose, cloves, saffron, orange, coriander, pistachio, hazelnut, sesame, tahini, coffee, dates and cardamom.
The café opened back in 1999 when two Americans passionate about all things coffee came together to start a business. Today, they have multiple outlets on the island and internationally, roasting their own beans locally at their plant in Sitra and supplying to retailers and organisations across the region. Watch out for their recently launched yet popular ‘Thoughts Over Coffee’ sessions, where Bahrain-based artists and musicians entertain and interact with customers. So far, they’ve hosted three Bahraini painters whose artworks adorn the walls of their Adliya outlet. They’ve also hosted Life of Music School, who serenaded customers with piano and cello music. A range of locally brewed hot and cold coffees is available, as well as a food menu featuring everything from chicken wings, burger sliders and pancakes through to waffles, salads and sandwiches.
A home-grown concept, Ministry of Coffee opened their first outlet only in 2016 and, spurred on by the café’s success, are already planning to open a second branch later this year. As the name suggests, this place is quite the authority on coffee and serves everything from your regular espressos, Americanos, flavoured lattes and hot chocolate through to the exotic affogato, coffee jelly, cold-coffee crushers and herbal teas. They also serve the detoxifying, caffeine-rich Argentinian yerba mate tea and a variety of fresh juices. There is a whole range of bites to choose from, like panini sandwiches, bagels, cakes, pastries and salads. They’ve recently added a new breakfast menu and kids’ specials. Whether you hang out in their quiet mezzanine nooks or lounge on their comfortable sofas, you’ll love the relaxed atmosphere of this urban living room.
This café, reminiscent of a 19th-century Parisian brasserie, offers a gratifying experience for the bon vivant. The menu features a wide range of options for breakfast, brunch and dinner; tuck into warm and creamy eggs Benedict and wash it down with some freshly squeezed orange juice, or savour a comforting mushroom risotto topped with grilled tenderloin steak. You can even opt for Middle Eastern-inspired dishes like Arabian nachos with spiced beef and kebbeh labaniyeh (mincemeat patties topped with a cheesy sauce) with vermicelli rice. There’s a whole variety of pastries and desserts to choose from, too. In fact, Café Lilou has exclusive patisseries in Adliya and Riffa. Enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee al fresco, surrounded by the art haven that is Block 338. You can even visit their second branch in Seef.
This fine-dining venue is located in Block 338, and it’s so sophisticated that there is a smart-casual dress code for guests after 8pm, and visitors are not allowed to wear shorts, flip-flops or sandals. The menu features everything from steaks and seafood through to salads, sandwiches and pasta. There’s an extensive breakfast menu, too. Perfect for a romantic date, the café serves premium red, white, rose and sparkling wines by the glass. Sawsan Balush, an interior designer, owns My Café, and her love for both hospitality and design are evident from the experience and ambiance this coffee shop offers. Many don’t know this, but they make and grow most of their ingredients, right from bread to microgreens, in-house. Their executive chef, Herve Pronzato, has won Michelin stars in previous restaurants he has worked at.
A beautiful French-style restaurant and café with indoor and al fresco dining, Le Chocolat is a great place to relax with a cup of freshly ground and brewed coffee and a croissant. While they have an interesting food menu, they’re equally popular for their exotic cakes and pastries menu, which blends subtle Arabic flavours with the art of French baking; try their kunafa crunch brûlée or pistachio mohalabiya cake. Their breakfast menu features eggs cooked in different styles, crêpes and French toast, as well as Middle Eastern items. They also do great wood-fired pizzas and pasta, as well as salads, soups, sushi and sandwiches. A specialties menu includes everything from steaks to salmon. The café also has a number of other branches across the island.
The name of this café means ‘house of happiness’ – a new shelter for vegetarian foodies in the Kingdom, they are located in Um Al Hassam and serve delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also pop by for evening snacks and tea or coffee. Being a South Indian restaurant, they serve dosa and have over 58 varieties of this humble Indian savoury crêpe. They also have North Indian and Indian–Chinese items, a real genre of food that is said to have evolved from the Chinese community that has made its home in Kolkata, a city in Western India, for years. Ananda Bhavan offers a casual dining ambiance with its wooden chairs and tables and bustling atmosphere. There’s a ground floor and a staircase leading to a top floor, which is much needed, as the place is usually swamped.
This Bahrain-born specialty café is known for its brewing, baking and roasting. If you’re looking to sip on a cup of artisanal coffee with gourmet baked goods on the side, this is the place to go. Their coffee and cold brews have received rave reviews from the island’s coffee connoisseurs and are made using high-quality beans, which they source from all over the world and roast, locally, in their roasteries. They also appeal to Bahrain’s foodies with their range of pastries and bread prepared in-house, as well as a variety of sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts. The portion sizes are large, and the staff are friendly. There is another outlet in Sa’ar.
Tuck into authentic Bahraini food at this old town-style café in the heart of Manama souq. Enjoy the traditional ambiance with wooden Arabic-style benches and a wall adorned with laminated pictures of yesteryear Bahrain. The staff are warm and friendly, too – no matter how busy they are, they will find time to tell you all about the café’s history. There’s no menu as such, and you can choose from what’s cooked on the day, typically hearty rice dishes and grills, as well as traditional breakfast items. You can wash these down with a chai karak (spiced milk tea). There are wall fans to keep you cool, but in case the heat gets too much, there’s a family section indoors.
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