Five places in York to eat a brilliant breakfast

Start your day right. Get up, get dressed and go out for a brilliant breakfast at one of these York eateries.

Going out for breakfast is a relatively new concept for most of us. There have always been cafes, service stations and chain restaurants offering sustenance to people on the move early in the morning. What they offer is filling, quick and often portable. A cup of tea and a bacon sandwich is very welcome on a cold morning when you’re on your way to work. It’s not something you’re going to get out of bed for on your day off, though. It’s certainly not something you’re going to offer to a client as a fun outing.

Things have changed though, however. There are cafes and restaurants in York offering a really special breakfast menu that might make getting up early worthwhile. Here’s five of our favourites!


This café on Stonegate, in the centre of York, provides a feast for all the senses. There are three quirky dining rooms, each with distinctive décor. The Garden Room has swing seats, the Neon Room has an Art Deco theme and in the Bohemian Room you are invited to sit on giant floor cushions.

They are most famous locally for their over-the-top afternoon teas, but their brunch menu is also pretty spectacular. For a set price, two or more people can choose from a range of dishes – waffles, pancakes, granola, ciabatta with various toppings – plus ‘bottomless’ drinks, including cocktails if you can face them at that time in a morning.  Or, if waffles are all you want, you can choose their ‘bottomless waffles’ option, and eat as many waffles as you like plus toppings. Booking is essential. Plush doesn’t open until 10.00 in the morning.

Brew and Brownie

For anyone having a day out in York, Brew and Brownie couldn’t be more conveniently situated. There are actually two premises, a café and a bakery, both on Museum Street opposite Museum Gardens. It is one of the first cafes you will see if you travel to York by train and walk into the city, and, as you would expect, is often very busy, especially at lunchtime.

Go ‘early doors’ from 9.00am onwards if you like it quieter, and take advantage of their excellent breakfast menu. They cater well for vegans and have dairy free and gluten free options. They are famous for their baked goods and pancakes, as well as for their toasties and traditional breakfast dishes, focussing on local, fresh ingredients. If it’s busy and you don’t like crowds, they do a takeaway option. Take your breakfast into Museum Gardens and have a picnic, or simply take it home.


This establishment on Fossgate in the centre of York takes breakfast seriously.

They open at 8.00am on weekdays, 9.00am at weekends, and serve their breakfast menu exclusively all day until 5.00pm. They only opened their York café in 2022 but, they are already very popular with locals and tourists. You will not get a bacon sandwich with brown sauce here, but why would you care when you can have a beef brisket ciabatta or poached eggs with, chorizo, sweet potato and harissa yogurt?

The staff are young and enthusiastic about food. They take care to make every dish, be it a bowl of granola or a plate of steak and eggs, look beautiful.  They want all their customers to have a great time, and will adapt dishes to suit if required. Vegetarians, vegans, gluten and dairy free diets are catered for. You can’t book, but sometimes you have to queue because it’s so very popular.

The Balloon Tree Cafe

There are plenty of cafes providing breakfast menus that cater to the sophisticated whims of city dwellers and tourists in York. Not everyone wants to sit on a scatter cushion and eat smashed avocado with a chai smoothie served in a jam jar, however.

Sometimes you just want a good, traditional full English breakfast, pot of tea and some toast and marmalade. Maybe you want to park outside the café and walk straight up to your table without battling through crowds or queuing at the door? How about shopping for some fresh fruit and vegetables and buying a cake to take home afterwards? If that sounds good, the Balloon Tree Café in Gate Helmsley, seven miles outside York, is the place for you.

The Balloon Tree was originally a farm shop that started serving afternoon teas. The teas became popular and they expanded their food service venture into a new, bright and airy building with a professional kitchen and excellent accessible facilities.

The café is open every day from 9.00am until 5.00pm and breakfast is served until 11.30am. The breakfasts are cooked to order and many of the ingredients are from their own farm. The café is popular with cyclists, which is a sure sign that it provides good food at a reasonable price. They specialise in traditional breakfast fare, toasties, tea cakes and pastries, but if you really want smashed avocado or fancy granola, you can have that too.

The Pig and Pastry

‘The Pig’ on the Bishopthorpe Road gets rave reviews from the local, national and international press. National Geographic magazine credits it as ‘The best UK breakfast’. That’s a lot to live up to! The breakfast menu is long and infinitely adaptable to different tastes and needs. You want eggs Benedict? There are six different variations to choose from. You want a bowl of granola? Of course, and it comes with fruit compote and a posh yogurt. You want something vegetarian? They have at least ten dishes to choose from. Something you never tried before? How about kimchi fritters with onions and a fried egg? And, yes, you can have a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich if that’s what you fancy.

The atmosphere is friendly and informal and it’s usually quite busy. You might end up sitting at a table with complete strangers, but that’s part of the fun!

Going out for breakfast might be a new idea for some of us and for the older people we care for, but doing something different can be mentally stimulating and a lot of fun. Eating breakfast somewhere different, and perhaps trying unfamiliar dishes, can also act as a pick-me-up for a jaded appetite. In and around York you can’t fail to find a breakfast worth getting up early for!

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