If you know me at all, you’ll know that I’m a breakfast person. Going out for breakfast or brunch and a mug of tea the size of my actual head is my favourite thing to do, and the whole time I’ve lived in York I’ve been on a mission to find the very best of what the city has to offer. I’ll be expecting my OBE any day now…
With that in mind, today I want to share my top ten favourite breakfast spots in York. I don’t mind telling you that I’ve been to plenty more than just these ten (I take my research very seriously), but these are the ones that most stood out to me and that I think should be on your radar too. If you’re new around here, you may be interested in my other lifestyle posts, or my accessible travel diaries. Do come and say hello on Instagram as well!
For context, you may find it helpful to know that I have a chronic illness and I’m an ambulatory wheelchair user. This means that I use mobility aids on some days, but not every day. Sadly, not all of the places on this list are wheelchair-accessible, and some were only possible for me to visit on the days I was without mobility aids. If you’re looking for accessible spots for a cuppa, you may be interested in my top wheelchair-accessible indie cafes and coffee shops guide instead.
You may also notice that I’ve omitted a couple of very popular breakfast/brunch spots in York that you might have expected to be high up on this list… and that’s generally because although they’re lovely, I’m not all that impressed with how they value their disabled visitors in comparison with non-disabled visitors. So, there’s that. Let’s move on swiftly.
Finally (almost there, I promise!), I am also an allergic-to-life human being who has a whole host of dietary requirements. I also try to eat vegan wherever possible, but in most of these places I’ve tried both vegan and non-vegan options, so I can confirm they’re both reliably good. All of them handled my allergies and dietary requirements well too – again, something that you might expect to be the norm but sadly isn’t quite yet. Nevertheless, all the more reason to celebrate those who go above and beyond, hey?
And now, without further ado, here we go…
Partisan is currently my favourite breakfast spot in York. Based on Micklegate, the venue is not only a licensed restaurant and coffee shop but also a beautiful arts space and host to many unique exhibitions. The inside is beautifully decorated with antiques and quirky artwork, and though the doorways are fairly narrow, there’s level access at the front and I just about managed to get through and manoeuvre around the dining area in my (fairly small) power-chair.
As they buy seasonally and sustainably wherever they can, the daytime and evening menus at Partisan can vary, but there always seems to be something that’s just what you fancy. Their breakfast choices include eggs served in just about every way you can imagine, but also boast a range of savoury and sweet options that go far beyond your typical full English.
My companion had the French Toast that was beautifully presented, and I’ve tried both the Partisan Breakfast and the Vegan Breakfast which come served in a cute little skillet. Everything I’ve tried has tasted so fresh and flavoursome, and even as somebody who doesn’t usually like barbeque flavouring or beans, I was surprised to find myself dreaming of their homemade smokey baked beans for days afterwards. Partisan is a great location for an extra special breakfast and therefore it’s often fully booked. If you’re wanting to visit, make sure you plan in advance!
I’m slightly cheating with this one as I believe Drift In is an enterprise associated with FatFace (conveniently also the love of my life) rather than fully independent, but York is one of only two locations of this beautiful cafe. The décor has a distinctive and unusual beachy and surfer vibe to it, and the menu is gorgeous – every typical breakfast and lunch option you would expect, but most with a little twist on them to make them extra special.
All dishes are easily customisable too, and on every visit the staff have gone above and beyond to accommodate my allergens and prepare food as safely as possible. Contrary to my usual advice for any life situation ever, I wouldn’t advise going for the pancakes here – they’re absolutely fine, but their other options (in my experience) are even better. They also do some gorgeous variations of avocado on thick sourdough bread (what can I say, I’m a millennial blogger), and their freshly squeezed juices are delicious too.
Drift In is a beautiful setting with a calm vibe that lends itself well to both business meetings and catch-ups with friends, and if you enter through FatFace rather than the external steps and doors, the venue is wheelchair-accessible too. Again, staff have always gone the extra mile – though you would usually stand and order your food at the till, they’re happy to come over and take the order from your table if you have mobility issues. It’s wild to see just how much this place’s popularity has boomed over the last couple of years – it used to be fairly quiet whenever I went, and yet these days people genuinely queue down the road a table. It’s worth it though – and if in doubt, they offer some handy takeaway options too.
Located just a short walk away from York Minster, Coffee Culture is a small and quaint coffee shop on Goodramgate that is hugely popular with locals… and rightly so. As well as serving all the varieties of hot drinks your heart could desire, they also offer a range of artisan breakfast, brunch and lunch options suitable for various dietary requirements. They don’t have a menu available to view online, so you’ll have to trust me when I tell you there’ll probably be something you fancy on there.
The vegan breakfast is absolutely beautiful, and not to be dramatic but their thinly sliced sourdough toast lathered in melting dairy-free butter was simply so good I swear I actually teared up a little bit. They also do a gorgeous range of vegan milkshakes blended on demand – they’re not cheap, but the Biscoff one is a lovely indulgent treat for when you’re on the go but have a hankering for something sweet.
Sadly, Coffee Culture isn’t accessible in the slightest and that’s the only thing that prevents me from going there more regularly. The tall, thin structure means you have to climb fairly steep stairs to get to the seating area, but if you’re lucky enough to have the ability to do this, it’s worth it. The upper floors contain plenty of cosy nooks and squishy sofas, with beautiful views over the cobbled streets below. I almost didn’t want to share this one with you in case it makes it harder to bag it in the future, but there’s a little corner on the top floor that’s quite possibly my favourite writing spot in the world. I dare you to try and take it away from me.
The Habit is an absolute must for anybody travelling into York during the summer and looking to really make the most of being in the city. Although the venue really comes alive in the evening, hosting live music events with the drinks free-flowing, I feel it’s something of a hidden gem if you’re looking for a unique breakfast experience.
The menu may have fewer choices than most of the other places on this list, but the thing that makes the experience special is their roof terrace. With benches lining the walls and light strung up all around, you can enjoy your first cuppa of the day while gazing at a gorgeous view of the Minster just behind you. The terrace is completely concealed from view from the pavement below, so you probably wouldn’t even know it was there unless somebody told you. So, you’re very welcome…
The staff are always warm and friendly, and the ground floor is level access – though sometimes tricky to negotiate given the lack of dropped kerbs and signage from other places blocking the pavement directly outside. Every time I’ve visited they’ve kindly let me leave my power-chair safely parked out of the way in a corner downstairs, meaning I could walk up to the roof seating and enjoy the terrace with friends. I’ve had both the vegan and non-vegan full English here and can vouch for both being good choices, but for me, it’s the view and the experience that really sets The Habit apart.
When Source reopened as a fully vegan restaurant, I was over the moon. I’d had really lovely experiences of evening meals there in the past, and their breakfast menu is epic – a fairly small selection, but featuring some really unique options including chickpea omelette, shakshuka, and even a vegan equivalent of smoked salmon served with crème fraiche and smoked tofu. No bookings are taken so it’s worth getting there early, and bear in mind that the seating outside the building is on elevated wooden decking – beautiful, but big steps to negotiate which makes it unsuitable for electric wheelchair users.
I opted for the full vegan breakfast, and was happy to find that as well as all the usual offerings, there were some specialties too – especially since at £12.00, the price point was slightly higher than what we would usually pay for a breakfast out in York. I can’t say my best friend or I were keen on the grilled tempeh, but there was also grilled tofu that had some kind of magical texture and flavouring that tasted like the closest thing I’ve had to scrambled egg in years. I would return just for that alone – as well as to try some of their bespoke smoothies and juices which sound delicious and full of goodness too.
If you have a wander up Micklegate, you’ll find the home of Divine Coffee – a shopfront and café that’s an extension of Divine’s renowned coffee roaster brand. Both the premises and the menu are small, and possibly cater more for lunchtime than breakfast specifically, but how could I possibly taste the best bagel I’ve ever had in my life and not include them on this list?
The kitchen bakes fresh products every morning, with the type of bagel and the fillings on offer varying by day. You can also purchase pastries and cakes at the till, and enjoy pretty much any hot drink your heart desires. Though the veggie and vegan options are sometimes limited, they have a range of breakfast-y fillings and I genuinely think that tasting the vegan cream cheese on a freshly baked sesame bagel was akin to having some kind of spiritual awakening.
And the best bit of all? Having allergy-conscious staff means that everything they offer is nut free. I could have cried with joy when I first found that out. Everything was nut-safe, the majority of baked goods were vegan, and I hear on the grapevine they’re working on some gluten free offerings too. There’s a small ridge by the doorway which means it isn’t quite level access for mobility aids, but this is one of very few places I’d go out of my way for and feel it was worth the additional pain. The staff were lovely, the food was outstanding, and I’d recommend this place in a heartbeat.
Bruks describes itself as a ‘quirky independent café specialising in all-day free-range breakfasts, homemade soups and cakes galore’ and I think that hits the nail on the head. The thing about Bruks is that it’s what I think of as a ‘proper’ café – perhaps not so bougee (I’m judging myself for using that word too) as some of the others you’ll find in York city centre these days, but ridiculously cute and cosy, with warm and friendly staff serving delicious food and drinks.
The only thing that differs between this café and the ones I fondly remember visiting growing up is that Bruks also boasts an impressive range of vegan options on their menu, with staff going above and beyond to accommodate any allergies or dietary requirements. I opted for the vegan breakfast which included all the things you might expect to see, plus some lovely bubble and squeak which was exactly what I needed during the drizzly day we visited.
The food was delicious, beautifully presented, and it really is the staff who make the difference at a place like this – chatty, kind, and welcoming. You’ll find Bruks tucked away on a side road right in the centre of town – I’ve only ever visited on foot rather than using my power-chair, but the entry is level access and Tripadvisor reviews report it to be fairly wheelchair-accessible too. There’s no menu to view online from what I can see, but not to worry… it just gives me another reason to pop back again soon. Completely for research purposes, of course.
If you’re looking for an indulgent breakfast where you can dine early enough to leave you plenty of time for making the most of the day, 1331 (Thirteen Thirty One) is for you. My one big grievance with York breakfast outlets is that the majority don’t open until the beastly hour of 10am, whereas this place will have the kettle on and plates warming much earlier in the morning. They do a lovely menu at reasonable prices, and it was at this place that I had my very first *good* vegan breakfast – one that was intentional, well prepared, and offered good value for money.
The restaurant is open all day and located very centrally in town, yet the courtyard area feels nice and peaceful and very separate from the manic crowds parading up and down the nearby foot-streets. Both the indoor and outdoor seating areas are lovely, and particularly spacious if you’re carrying on with social distancing, but I’d probably give this one a miss if you’re using mobility aids – though the outdoor seating is technically level access, the cobbles on those pathways leading up to it are like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Janice the power-chair wasn’t a fan of those uneven surfaces, but if you’re on two legs, it’s definitely worth popping in.
This one was quite a random find, but I’m so glad we visited. Penny’s Bespoke Foodhouse is located on Walmgate near the Student Castle, and is home to some of the cutest café décor I’ve ever seen. The building sadly isn’t wheelchair accessible and there’s a hefty step to get in, but the team went above and beyond to accommodate me – they even helped us lift my power-chair inside.
There aren’t many tables indoors, meaning our visit was nice and peaceful with fewer sensory challenges for me to contend with. The menu is lovely and traditional, and the staff were very willing to tailor dishes per preferences and dietary requirements.
My companion and I both opted for a breakfast sandwich with a cheeky hash brown on the side (be rude not to, right?) and they even asked how well done we’d like our food to be and whether we wanted our extras on the sandwich or on the side… they went above and beyond to customise our meals and serve them exactly how we liked it. The food was lovely and very reasonably priced, and the best bit for me was their specialty freshly squeezed orange juice which was absolutely delicious. A lovely little place with even more lovely staff, and one I’d happily go back to again.
Like Bruks, Wheldrakes is an amazing example of a ‘proper’ café, in my humble opinion. Located near the Monkbar walls and a stone’s throw away from the Minster, the place has been busy and full of life every single time I’ve walked past. Unfortunately the building isn’t accessible and there’s a big step at the entrance followed by a fairly narrow doorway, so this place had to be saved for a day when I wasn’t using mobility aids. However, once we were inside and seated in a very comfy corner, our experience was a lovely one.
The day we visited Wheldrakes, we’d initially headed to another breakfast venue on my bucket list… only to find that every single item on their menu had a big cross-contamination risk for peanuts and tree nuts. We were disheartened when we left, but it made our experience at Wheldrakes all the sweeter – because as soon as our friendly waitress came over to take our order, she immediately asked about any allergies. She wasn’t fazed at all by my multiple dietary requirements and immediately offered to customise some dishes, and even asked a few further questions in almost an apologetic way to make sure she’d got everything right. And honestly, that was like music to my allergic-to-life ears. There’s nothing more reassuring than knowing that people are taking your dietary requirements seriously, especially when you have severe allergies.
The menu was very traditional, with full English breakfast and breakfast sandwiches featuring prominently, though there were fresh bakes available at the counter too. There wasn’t a huge amount of choice for vegans when we visited, but everything looked great and each dish was very affordable too. I’d happily go back here, even just for a hot drink in a lovely and inviting atmosphere, to give my custom to a team who are so clearly going above and beyond for their customers.
And there we have it, my top ten recommendations for breakfast in York! Was your favourite place included on here? As I said at the beginning, there are a few reasons why a couple of the big-hitters in York aren’t included here, but I’d love to hear any of your own recommendations…