While there are a few contenders for the best fry-up in Dalston – Red Art Cafe and Bardens Boudoir both deserve a mention – the one that’s doing almost everything right is Cafe Z Bar. Seemingly innocuous and easy-to-pass-by, it’s one of the only cafes on the four mile strip from Shoreditch High Street to the top of Stoke Newington that is yet to change in recent years, and let me be clear, it’s all the better for it. You won’t find any overly self-aware light bulbs or mismatched lamp shades here. The focus is strong coffee, eggs and carbs, just as it should be.
If you’re vegetarian, make one of the Turkish breakfasts your first stop. Hard boiled eggs, olives and sliced pide bread are really all anyone needs to take that first stubborn edge off a hangover. Vegan, and you’ll need to make a few swaps with the vegetarian set offerings, but if you’re feeling adventurous I would skip that whole section and avert your eyes to the chef specials which come served on a toasted tortilla, so you can wrap whatever you like up into a make-shift burrito or just cut away little pieces to scoop up black beans or mushrooms. Let’s be honest, we all want to eat like toddlers when headaches get supersized.
Daily specials such as chicken shish with a selection of cold mezze options always go down well with anyone looking for a meatier endgame, while surprise additions like spicy roast potatoes and chorizo-spiked scrambled egg mean it’s always worth taking a risk on one of the lesser-ordered lunch combinations.
The service is prompt every time, there’s never more then ten minutes before the coffee arrives, and the food is always hot, cooked to perfection and a pleasant surprise from the over-worked brunch menus that line the street either side of it.
If you find yourself in N16, get to Z Bar.