Some Cafes Up... East

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Cayuco, Barcelona (RIP)







   Solmar: Lisbon
Not so much a cafe as a vast Bondfilm movie-set of a restaurant! Devoted to lobsters in all their glory, the Solmar does have a lovely little cafe section attached but the next door gastrodome fitted in full 'contemporary' 50s finery is so awesome we thought we'd run this picture instead. Lisbon is blessed with so many marvelous little caffs hidden away in the upper old town we firmly recommend a visit. Nothing in London can compare to Solmar's scale and dazzling brilliance.

Cayuco [Barcelona]RIP 2003

The 'old mens' cafes of Spain and Italy are just like the characterfully mouldering places that London once contained in abundance throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Barcelona - in large part around the city centre - was pretty well a perfect version of 'Soho in the 50s' up until its 'discovery' in the late 1980s. We also highly recommend Palma [Mallorca], Mao [Menorca], and the upper town in Lisbon as areas rich in local cafe/bars. Cayuco, shown here, was little more than a Formica corridor off Passeig de Born; an inspirational den of soiled rosewood and historic furnishings. The whole place should have been copied and built on the ashes of every Star****s site in London.

    Moka Vero: Palma, Mallorca
Mallorca is a rich area for Euro-cafes filled with formica tables and chrome tubular chairs. The counters alone all seem to be design classics and there are plenty of them spilling off back streets. Soller, a pretty train ride from Palma, has a main square in the upper town packed with cafe splendours! Menorca is even better served, with 'old men's' coffee bars dotted round numerous central thoroughfares.
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Aida [Vienna]

"The next time you drink a cup of coffee in your local caff, remember the 17th century Austro-Hungarian empire double agent who invented it. The price Georg Kolschitzky exacted on the King for ejecting the Turks from Vienna in 1683 was the bags of coffee he knew they'd leave behind. Thus, Europe's very first caff, 'The Bluebottle', was born. 'Aida' continues this fine tradition. All the classic elements are present and correct: innocuous side street; pink Formica of varying chromatic phase; harried leatherette banquettes; UPS-brown plastic and chrome chairs; worn tumblers; worn out staff; worried white pyrex; pestered chequerboard floor; see-through space dividers; embroidered pink polyester gingham overalls; lonesome oldsters... A vaulted ceiling adds to the feeling of emptiness. This pink paradise is one of a number dotted around Vienna, with varying degrees of authenticity in the decor department. A fine example of late 1950's Euro-optimism and a perfect complement to the huge number of beautiful early 20th century 'brown caffs' available in the centre of town." (Niall McGinley)

Bar Xatet [Carrer Street Francesc, Sitges, Spain]
Dating from the 1920s, this cafe is filled with miniature black lacquered chairs and zinc-top marble tables. The walls are laden with locals' sketches and photo-memorabilia; the ceiling groaning with fleshy, hanging hams...

Pensio Can Julian [Avgda. Artur Carbonell, Sitges, Spain]
Boasts a small part-deco chrome doorway, while inside the bar and cafe look like an old 1950s Spanish home: caramel coloured chairs and tables, odd paintings, clocks and lights on the walls and US diner stools at the bar.

Al Quiros, Paseo del Altillo [Almuñécar, Granada, Spain]
A true local coffee-lounge in the classic mould: plain, dark veneered interior; old style caramel leather swivel seats; smart Contemporary seating and a nifty covered section outside with orange-striped awnings and sun-guards.

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