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Best small cafes in Singapore
Track down a hand-ground cup of coffee, mingle with the beautiful or wolf down a plate of eggs at these tucked-away spots
Sometimes, the better things in life are worth making a little more effort for. In the case of Papa Palheta, making tracks to this specialty coffee bar takes navigation skills. Tucked away along Hooper Road, don’t turn back if you fail to see a signage out front -- they don’t have one.
Once you’re there, seating space is arbitrary, patrons (and their vintage bicycles and dog strollers) often spill over to the alley behind the shop house/entrance -- not that anyone really minds.
“Papa Palheta is quite unlike the usual places around town or Holland Village and if you drive along the road, you wouldn't notice us at all because there's no signage. But the good thing is, a lot of people see us as a secret haven to enjoy coffee, we don't get a lot of walk-in customers so our clientele is slightly different,” says Dennis Tang, one of the partners of the cafe.
The charm of the place is enhanced by its owners' and staff's passion -- coffee beans are roasted every Monday and orders such as a vanilla caramel latte will not be entertained: all cuppas here are served pure and unadulterated. Papa Palheta also operates on an honor system where customers pay how much they think their cup of java is worth but there is a general standard of S$3.50 a cup.
140 Bukit Timah Road. Tel: +65 9799 0420
Named after a traditional French cheese, this restaurant/bar/club is located in one of Singapore’s more tranquil spots. Down a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it turning, the stately black and white colonial building, which used to board aspiring jockeys (Mimolette is located near the old Turf Club), now plays host to ladies who lunch during the daytime and by night, Singapore’s moneyed-and-model set looking for a more exclusive party venue.
Regular Claire Teng says, “Coming here beats most of the other clubs because the crowd is more exclusive and it’s relaxing to come here after a long week rather than jostle with everyone else in a crowded club.”
55 Fairways Drive. Tel: +65 6467 7748
Getting to Hatched is only slightly easier than trying to answer the chicken or egg question. Situated between a small nursery, residential estate and a university, keep your eyes peeled for a small café housed in a squat red building.
Specializing in egg dishes of all forms and variations, there are pre-conceived options (the Le Rossini, scrambled eggs with foie gras and truffle oil, is a favorite) or choose to design your own plate: baked, boiled, fried, poached or scrambled eggs with add-ons like black forest ham, smoked salmon, wilted spinach. For the non-egg lovers, there’s a cowboy burger for the tasting: a hearty patty served on an English muffin with sautéed Portobello mushrooms and a fried egg.
“Even though Hatched is getting more crowded by the weekend, I’d still come here for brunches, which are my hangover cure. There’s something calming about this place,” says regular Nick See.
#01-06 Evans Lodge, 26 Evans Road. Tel +65 6735 0012
The Garden Slug
Situated alongside a row of pet shops, this diner-style café in the unassuming Telok Kurau neighborhood teems with young locals who patronize The Garden Slug for its home-style menu and reasonable prices. A winning combination clearly, evident by its popularity on Twitter.
“I began seeing The Garden Slug's name pop up in tweets from people I follow on Twitter and as I live walking distance away, I came by for dinner one day and enjoyed it,” says patron Tan Jie Yi.
#01-59/61 Bright Centre, 55 Lorong L Telok Kurau. Tel +65 6346 0504