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Best Cafes in Singapore 2018

We’ll be honest — putting together our yearly best cafes guide is one of our favourite things to do. As always, tasty food, stellar coffee and good vibes are the key pillars of a rocking cafe experience. Our hunt took us all around the island, where we revisited old gems that comfort with their consistently great standards, as well as sniffed out new favourites that have blazed onto the city’s cafe scene. Enjoy!

Clan Cafe

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Photo by Burppler Nobelle Liew

For Elegant Fare in Bukit Pasoh
Housed on the ground floor of members only club Straits Clan, this open to the public cafe has been hot on our radar since an influx of Burppler reviews of their elegantly plated Asian-inspired fare. Leave your flip flops at home — this place is spacious and kinda fancy, with sleek wood furniture and charming Peranakan tiles. The Otah Sandwich ($16), made luxe with housemade prawn and mackerel otah, buttery toasted brioche and comté (French cheese), is a Burpple community favourite — Burppler Nobelle Liew calls it the “bomb diggity”, while the luscious Kueh Salat ($6.90) has many scrambling to pick sides between this and Chalk Farm’s take on the Nonya kueh. If in the mood for a more substantial meal, the Kakiage with Genmaicha Broth ($15) is an inspired take on the grain bowl trend, topped with a medley of light and crisp battered vegetables. Made using Papa Palheta beans, the coffee here (from $3.50 for an espresso) is balanced and toasty, with distinct chocolate notes. For a healthy boost, consider their Herbal Tea Brews ($8) instead. Concocted by a local tea specialist, these promise to soothe common ailments — Aid Digestion, perhaps?


Columbus Coffee Co.

Columbus

Photo by Burppler Raine Liu

For Stellar Brunch Plates and Coffee
By the geniuses behind popular Atlas Coffeehouse and Lunar Coffee Brewers, this new-ish kid on the block is fast becoming a foolproof brunch spot in the Thomson ‘hood. The team has had two cafes to get it right, and Columbus certainly delivers. Expect tried-and-tested favourites like Mushrooms on Sourdough ($14, add $3 for their spot on scrambled eggs) and Salmon Soba Noodles ($18), alongside exclusive to Columbus dishes like Mussels with Coconut Lemongrass & Ale ($17), a Burpple community favourite thanks to its punchy Thai-style broth. Coffee is great, as always, with beans supplied by Two Degrees North. Their cold brews, including the Matcha Warrior Cold Brew ($7), are consistently tasty, or consider the mellow Colombia Filter Coffee ($6) on days you feel like a hot cuppa. The cafe’s roomy enough to come in a group. Black leather and wooden seats bring about a more grown-up vibe, but it’s still chill enough to rock up to in flip flops.


Common Man Coffee Roasters

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Photo by Burppler Kelly Wong

For Perfect Food and Coffee Pairings
Soak up the lively vibes at Common Man Coffee Roasters (CMCR), a coffee-centric joint with extensive java offerings and an all-day brunch menu. The quality of the food is very well proven by the never-ending crowd and buzz — it’s definitely not a place for your quiet me time! CMCR is not the most accessible of the lot, so it’s best to meet your cafe-hopping buddies at Fort Canning MRT station for a short walk over. All-time favourites include the Common Man Fluffy Pancakes ($20) and Turkish Common Man Breakfast ($25), the latter an interesting option that features a phyllo-wrapped soft-boiled organic egg with perfectly runny yolk, jazzed up with deep-fried feta, rich hummus, pita bread and juicy vegetables. For carb-conscious individuals, the Seared Salmon Salad ($26) with crispy fish skin and wasabi vinaigrette will make a divinely satisfying choice. Remember to ask the friendly baristas for some coffee recommendations — we got the strong and aromatic Filter Coffee ($6) and liked it! Prices are on the steep end, but the quality of food and coffee here is well worth every cent.


PUNCH

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Photo by Burppler Hwans Lim

For a Knockout Brunch near Chinatown
From the good folks at Ronin, and just a short stroll away, PUNCH is perpetually buzzing with diners who flock here for great food and amazing service. The main dining room gets pretty loud when it’s crowded (which it often is), so consider getting an alfresco table in the lush backyard if you prefer quiet conversations. Also, if you’re waiting in line, the smaller your dining party, the faster you’re likely to get seated. The food menu is compact, but every dish shines in its own way. Some of our favourites include the Eggs with Smashed Avocado on Sourdough ($13, a favourite amongst the fitness set that frequents the cafe) and the spot-on Grilled Cheese Sandwich ($11), which comes with a bowl of really yummy tomato bacon soup for dipping. You’d be pleased to know that their heavier plates, like the Tiger Prawns & Scallop Aglio Olio ($19) we tried, ticks all the right boxes for oomph, punch and yum too. Don’t leave without a coffee, for the baristas here really know their stuff. The Flat White ($5.50) is dark and roasty, with wonderful nutty notes.


Bearded Bella

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Photo by Burppler M *

For a Slice of Melbourne
If you ever find yourself hankering for a slice of Melbourne here on our sunny shores, head on down to this whitewashed space on Craig Road. The owners have successfully captured the Australian city’s combination of good food and coffee, personable service AND that elusive je ne sais quoi that makes the cafe both hip and welcoming. The menu is compact, but the choices are interesting enough to make you deliberate. Take our heed and go with Burpple community approved choices like the Mushroom & Hummus ($17) and the refreshing Dill Cured Salmon ($24), served with uplifting orange and fennel. Don’t skip the small plates, for that’s where some real magic awaits. The Charred Brussel Sprouts ($12) are wonderfully smoky and topped with just the right amount of parmesan and balsamic, while the Burnt Nori Prawns ($13) come with addictive bits of candied bacon. Their coffee is a blend of Ethiopian and Honduran beans, so expect a balanced, aromatic cup that Burpplers have described to be pretty distinct with its berry notes. The Flat White ($5) we had was really smooth and creamy.


One Man Coffee

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Photo by Burppler Cafehoppingkids .

For Pocket-Friendly Toasts and Solid Cuppas
For tasty bread-centric brunches that won’t break the bank, we find ourselves turning to this dependable Thomson joint. Indoor seats are limited, so it pays to either come early, or to avoid the weekend peak hours. The dishes here are mostly hearty and satisfying, so you’ll be hard pressed to go wrong with any. The Gashouse Eggs ($12) is a popular choice among our Burpple community. Expect melted cheese on thick brioche toast with a surprise oozy egg centre, served with a rocking candied bacon jam. The decadent French Toast with Caramelised Banana ($12) is fluffy and wonderfully eggy, and makes a lovely dessert when paired with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (additional $3). The coffee here is consistently great — we like to start our meal with the Piccolo ($4) with an extra shot ($1).


Curious Palette

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Photo by Burppler Jasmine L.

For Hotcakes That Don’t Disappoint
Situated along quiet Prinsep Street, this cosy brunch spot offers a homely atmosphere that’s great for small group gatherings. If you’re visiting on a weekend without a reservation, it’s best to arrive at opening (9am) or after 2pm to beat the busy brunch crowds. You won’t go wrong with the ever-popular Berry Ricotta Hotcake ($14.90), which scores in both presentation and taste. Warm upon arrival, the hotcake is best enjoyed within 10 minutes to savour the slightly crisp exterior and fluffy interior, so be quick with your food pictures! The pretty dish comes topped with tart summer berries, crunchy mixed seeds, sweet vanilla ice cream and maple syrup. It’s rather filling, so we’d suggest sharing the hotcake with three to four friends, or having it on a really hungry stomach. To end off, sip on a creamy cold brew latte White Magic ($6.90).


The Populus Coffee & Co.

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Photo by Burppler Wilnel Yeo

For a Classy Affair along Neil Road
Populus is passionate about dishing out contemporary food with a personal touch. The dedication to detail is also evident in the decor, which sees piped lightings, wood-panelled walls and a sleek coffee bar that exudes splendour. Settle yourselves in with cup of Cappuccino ($5.50) — a robust cuppa that makes an excellent perk-me-up. Despite the wide range of options on their food menu, Burpplers take a strong liking towards some of their specialty dishes: the Wagyu Beef Grain Bowl ($24) that boasts nutty, wholegrain goodness from the use of quinoa, bulgur wheat and pearl barley; the Populus Scramble ($18) that sees creamy eggs and bacon atop a flaky and buttery croissant; and the Sundae with Buttermilk Waffle (from $19) that combines creamy, ice-cold soft serve with warm, crispy waffle.


Merci Marcel

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Photo by Burppler Weekendeatwhat

For Tasty French Plates
Nestled in the hip Tiong Bahru neighbourhood, this boho chic French bistro is a lovely place for a lazy brunch or smart dinner amidst beautiful wood-centric interiors accented with lots of lush greens. It’s one of our top spots for weekend catch ups with the gang, but the ample seats tend to fill up fast, so head down early. The dishes here are as refined as they are tasty. You won’t go wrong with Burpple community favourites like the Ravioles de Royan ($18), luxurious French dumplings filled with Tete de Moine cheese; Duck Rillettes ($18) and Marinated Crab Tartine ($18) served on crusty sourdough. If you’re up for just a light bite, the Croissant ($3) and Pain au Chocolat ($3.50), baked in-house and sporting delicious flaky layers thanks in part to the French butter they use, are excellent choices with a Flat White ($6), brewed with beans from Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee.


The Hangar

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Photo by Burppler Muriel A

For Honest to Goodness Coffee and Grub
If you like your cafes shabby chic and your coffees excellent, this Melbourne-inspired spot on Arab Street may just be your favourite hangout (it’s one of ours!). The vibes are unpretentious, the servers laidback and friendly (you’re in for great conversation if owner Pav’s around), and the mains downright satisfying. Space is limited though, so come alone or with just a friend. The breads are all made using organic live starters, so they’re crusty on the outside but soft inside. Toast options are aplenty, running the gamut from a virtuous Smashed Avo ($13) to an Epic Bacon & Egg Roll ($13) that’s worth the sin. For something different, try the Smoked Rib Shakshuka ($23), which sees boneless beef rib baked with thick eggplant slices, punchy tomato gravy and a generous layer of mozzarella; the Pulled Pork Kolo Mee ($16) for more Asian flavours; or the Steak Burrito Bowl ($17) served with cauliflower rice. They personally roast their beans weekly, so whatever your coffee style, you’re in great hands brew wise (avg price $5).


Botanist

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Photo by Burppler Rae Siu

For Garden Party Brunch Vibes
There are limited indoor seats at this Neil Road cafe, but it’s just as well, as the alfresco tables offer a lot more atmospheric environment, thanks to the abundance of greenery draping across the walls. Put on your airiest garden party frock and tuck into gorgeously plated dishes (have your phone ready) — bring the girls! Our favourites include the Corn Fritters ($18) with rocking hummus and guacamole, and the rich and luscious Slow Cooked Beef Cheek ($24) with tender meat that falls apart at a gentle prod of the fork. For coffee, go with the five-ounce Flat White ($5) and choose Dark Matter as your choice of beans — it brings out amazing notes of dark chocolate and macadamia nuts. P.S. They close only at 11pm every day except Sunday (6pm). Fritters for supper, anybody?


Paddy Hills

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Photo by Burppler Eunice Foo

For Tasty, Instagram-Worthy Plates in the West
A consistent topper on our list of best cafes, this westside gem is one of our favourites for its homey ambience (great for weekday catch-ups), creative cooking and totally Instagram-worthy plates. You’re likely to see the Berry Muffcakes ($23) on most tables. An upgraded version of their once popular berry ricotta hotcakes, these muffcakes (a cross between muffins and hotcakes) are slightly dense, and topped with a scattering of edible flowers, vanilla ice cream and yoghurt balls. Burppler Eunice Foo declares that she devoured the dish whole, but our advice is still to share, just so you have space for their tasty mains at least! The Burpple community adores the 黑 Mami Rice ($25), which sees squid ink rice topped with a generous slab of flavorful flap steak and an onsen egg — full on umami and so yummy. The coffee’s decent (from $3.50 for an espresso) but on hot days, a glass of Bubbly Yuzu ($8) or Autumn Iced Tea ($8) with umeshu jelly make refreshing thirst quenchers.


Wheeler’s Estate (Alfresco Cafe)

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Photo by Burppler Veronica Phua

For Hearty Fare in Nature
Don’t be quick to strike off this cafe nestled in ulu Seletar, because the good food and lush ambience here makes it well worth the travel. A driver-friendly establishment (parking lots available right outside) combining a cafe, bar, events space, and picnic spot, Wheeler’s Estate has something for everyone to relax and enjoy with their family and friends. Their Fish & Chips ($23) is a good example of a classic done right, wherein lies a huge slab of crusty battered fish with moist, flaky flesh and a side of crispy fries. Don't stop there; make sure to order any of their mouth-watering pizzas ($24) for sharing — the lip-smacking crust, generous toppings and gooey cheese totally won the hearts of Burpplers Veronica Phua and Hwans Lim. If you’re here on a Saturday or Sunday morning, consider the light yet satisfying Crab Benedict ($22), served only during weekend brunch.


Brawn and Brains

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Photo by Burppler Cassie Ong

For Stellar Molten Eggs and Coffee
For a no brainer brunch guaranteed to hit the spot (every single time!), you’ll likely find us at this Guillemard stalwart, which we love for its unpretentious vibes, great coffee and consistently tasty plate of Oven Baked Molten Eggs ($16.80). The very substantial brunch comes with thinly sliced avocado, rolls of smoked salmon, fresh greens and molten eggs blanketed in a thick layer of melted cheese. The eggs are ready to burst with rivers of sunny gold, so you might want to consider Burppler Acamas Teo Bing Qiang’s advice to order toast on the side ($2) to mop that all up. Robust, creamy and lightly sweetened, their Cold Brew ($7.80) is just the thing for hot days, more so if you’re popping by after a session at the nearby rock climbing gym. If you’re planning to linger, the Flat White ($5) is a lovely accompaniment to their food, perhaps with a good book.


Brothers In Fine Food

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Photo by Burppler Wan Riny

For a Halal-Friendly Eastside Meal
Tucked away on the second floor of Tampines West Community Centre, this Muslim-owned spot racks up points both for their really tasty fare, as well as affordable prices. As Burppler M * noticed, this is a really popular weekend brunch spot in the east (brunch is from 9am to 5pm!) with crowds streaming in at staggered timings; take our advice to play it safe and make a reservation. We like that the team spruces up their menu often, but we also appreciate how they keep stalwarts like the Burpple community favourite, Butcher’s Daughter ($14). Expect a hearty slab of tender steak, sous vide and then seared, served with fluffy scrambled eggs and fries. The Peanut Butter Jelly Toast ($10) is another classic, which goes well with their Spiked Muddy Espresso ($6.50) sweetened with gula Melaka. Come dinner time, their plates take on a more refined edge. The Duck Ragout Pasta ($7 as a small plate), topped with 24-hour smoked duck, is super flavourful, as is the Squid Ink Rice and Soft Shell Crab ($17). Burppler Wan Riny describes the rice to taste like a mix of lemak chilli padi and nasi rawon — spicy, but so good!


The Refinery

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Photo by Burppler Jayson Yeo

For Hearty Rice Bowls and Chill Vibes
For their delicious rice bowls, good coffee and laidback vibes, this Jalan Besar hotspot has our hearts. The airy, high-ceilinged space is also great for kicking back with a few friends come the weekend. Begin with the Cauliflower Fritters ($10), crunchy batter-fried stalks that come with a punchy wasabi mayo. As for mains, the Refinery Gyudon ($17) with truffled shimeji mushrooms and tender, tare-marinated beef sits high on our list of must-orders. It’s also topped with a wobbly egg, which helps bind the contents of the bowl for extra yummy spoonfuls. If the weekend calls for a perk-me-up, have the nutty Flavoured Espresso Ice Ball ($8.50) spiked with a shot of Whiskey ($5) — Burppler Justin Teo attests to how well they go together.


Percolate

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Photo by Burppler Zhihui Lim

For Great Coffee and Croissants
Set at the fringe of the Bedok neighbourhood, this classy cafe makes our list for pulling the perfect espresso. The menu is small (they don’t serve large plates), so it’s an ideal spot to hang around for coffee and light bites, or to get some work done during the non-peak hours. Get the Espresso Tonic ($6) for a fizzy caffeine boost, or the Iced White ($6) if you like your coffee creamy. Take our advice and pair your cuppa with their croissants, which consistently receive rave reviews from Burpplers. Like it sweet? The Apple Pie Croissant ($12) and Chocolate & Almond Croissant ($4.50) are your best bets. Otherwise, the Curry Egg Mayo Croissant Sandwich ($7) is a tasty savoury option. If you prefer something to share, get the Banana Loaf ($9) — a dense but moist cake topped with a generous helping of almond butter, mascarpone and fruits.


Builders at Sims

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Photo by Burppler Adam Lee

For Modern Comfort Food near Aljunied
Looking for a no-frills cafe with affordable and modern western fare? Builders at Sims is just the place to go. Located under a HDB flat along Sims Place, this neighbourhood joint makes a quiet nook to spend a relaxing afternoon with a few pals — the space seats only 28, so it's best to make a reservation. The Burpple community especially loves its honest-to-goodness food at wallet-friendly prices. Start by munching on the ever-addictive Truffle Fries ($9.90), before delving into the must-try Beef Cheek ($16.90) and Chilli Crab Pasta ($14.90) mains. The former boasts melt-in-your-mouth tenderness from the sous-vide preparation, while the latter delivers a good amount of heat from the thick, homemade crab bisque. Don’t leave without trying the coffee here too — the Cappuccino ($5) gets a giant thumbs up from us.


Free The Robot

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Photo by Burppler Brian Xavier

For a Revitalising Lunch in the CBD
When feeling overwhelmed at work, consider making your way to Free The Robot (FTR) for a quick (and tasty) break. This cafe is packed during lunch hours, so leave your desks early to beat the crowd. Come by early before 12pm to order FTR’s tantalising toasties and also to catch the cafe’s cute resident dog Baileys that occasionally comes out to play. We highly recommend the Avocado Toastie ($8), clean and green, with creamy sliced avocado, feta, cheddar, spinach and pesto between buttered toasts that are crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The Meatball Pasta ($13) makes a great choice too, for its light cream sauce and juicy flavoursome meatballs that Burpplers love. Before heading back to work, grab a cup of smooth and velvety Flat White ($5) to help you power through the rest of the day.


Thus Coffee

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Photo by Burppler Dex Neo

For Lazy Days in Sembawang
Tucked behind Sembawang Hills Food Centre, this cosy neighbourhood joint is a great place for drinks and hearty fare. A favourite among residents who rock up in tees and shorts, the ambience is laidback, so dress down and plan to linger. The food menu puts together classic, comforting options. We like the Hearty Chicken Stew ($16), which Burppler Cedric Lim rightly describes to be “creamy and light yet full of spunk and flavour”, but we also quite enjoyed fusion dishes like the Chicken Cutlet Jjolmyeon ($18), which sees the chewy Korean noodles tossed in an appetising gochujang sauce. Brewed using house roasted beans, the coffee (from $3.50) here is balanced and smooth, but if you’ve always had a hard time choosing between matcha and coffee, consider their signature Green Shot ($6.50, available hot or iced) that combines both for a robust, earthy blend best sipped cold. The Ginger Latte ($6.50), milk spiked with ginger, is pure comfort in a mug ideal for mellow evenings. If you need dessert, the Berry Matcha Lava Cake ($15), served with wild berry compote to cut through the richness, makes a tasty option.


Know of other cafes worth a spot on this list? Share recommendations of your favourite cafes in the app!