An atmospheric gem of a lovely informal old house with accommodation and a little traditional bar in an exquisite remote setting overlooking a bay. They serve exceptional spanking fresh local seafood cooked to perfection at very good prices with a few tables looking out over the lovely view. But it is really the atmosphere of the place, the laid back and unpretentious welcome from each family member that makes it like visiting friends, the traditional little bar where you can get a pint of Guinness and hang with the locals, listen to music, have a seafood snack, and then at the end of a brilliant night of chat and craic you can fall into bed in one of their newly renovated bedrooms with lovely views across the bay.
Dawros Bay House & Joe’s Seafood Bar, Rosbeg, Co. Donegal
+44(0)74 954 5252
Google map: bit.ly/rc9EUt
LIDO restaurants and bistros you will find also at the airport, shopping centres and other places, but in the centre of Riga I would advice bistro Vērmanītis located next to the Vermann’s garden. Vegetables, meat, fish, salad, desserts – always fresh food, wooden interior, Latvian music and bellyfull just for around 2 – 4Ls. Vērmanītis is one of these places budget travellers are choosing and enjoying for their Latvian meals.
For those who are not used to hearty Latvian food and who do not want to make
their wallet empty because of it, there is affordable vegetarian food at Indian bistro Rāma. The whole place where you will find Rāma is called the Hare Krishna centre – there is an
Indian shop in cellar with incense sticks, cosmetics, food, pictures of deities, jewelry
etc. There is also vedic yoga centre, the girls working there are wearing saris and the
place is filled with Indian chants. The vegetarian food is light and tasty – rice, cutlets, salad, buns, snacks, vegetarian pizza, lassi, fresh juice
and a big variety of teas with a special accent on yoga teas. Happy hour if from 18.30 – 19.30 during which time you get hot dishes with a 25% discount and if buying yoga tea you can get any of their Eastern sweets for free.
Even without these discounts you will pay around 2 -3Ls (£2.50-£3.50) for a good meal. Sounds good, no? This place invites you to get your inner balance while eating.
This bistro is a number one choice for students and budget travellers in Riga, and also for
people returning home from a night in the Old Town – one of their bistros at the
Old Town works till 4am!
Here you can get two types of cold dishes, two types of soup and six types of dumplings (‘pelmeņi’ is Latvian word for dumplings) - with different types of meat, with cheese and vegetables. For 1-3Ls (£1.20-£3.50) you get an entire meal, and then you're ready to enjoy the city. One of XL Pelmeņi bistros is located right in the heart of the Old Town, another one at the shopping centre 'Galerija Centrs' and another at
shopping centre 'Origo' (Central Train Station). Oh, and they have even happy hours
there: at the shopping centres from 2pm – 10pm, but at the heart of the Old Town (Kaļķu
Street 7) 12pm – 4am(!), that’s when you can get all kinds of dumplings and salads for just for 0.69Ls (£0.85).
Old Town: Vecrīgā, Kalķu 7, Rīga
+371 7 222728
Google map: bit.ly/rpFWNT
Audēju 16, Galerija centrs, Teātra iela 16
Riga, LV-1050, Latvia
Google map: bit.ly/qGEySa
Stacijas laukums 2, Origo Centrs, LV1050
Google map: bit.ly/osyJLB
Beas-Dhaba at Vladislavova offers great quality, freshly cooked vegetarian curry daily. Offering a north Indian menu, this brightly coloured restaurant is a weekday favourite for locals working nearby. The self-service style and metal trays give it a definite school cafeteria feel - if only school dinners had tasted this good! Beas-Dhaba offers two vegetable curries, two dhals, two types of rice, salads and a dessert each day, as well as samosas and pakoras, and Indian sweets. Soft drinks are available - their freshly made fruit and vegetable juices are highly recommended.
Food is priced by weight - lunch will set you back around 160 CZK/ £6.
Lovely warming food in winter. A cool oasis (with garden) in the summer. Beas-Dhaba does get busy but offers a very quick turn around time - great for lunch in a hurry!
Beas-Dhaba has four restaurnat in Prague. See the website for more details.
A bit of a nerd alert here ... the following post deals with a place many of us haven't visited since grade school - so feel free to fast-forward if you are not a fan of the literary arts. The rest of us will geek out at places like Bibliotheek Amsterdam - an architectural and bibliotheq-lical wonder located about five minutes walk from Amstedam's Centraal Station.
It's part of what might be called the "new" Amsterdam. "Old" Amsterdam buildings are the homes, bridges, and cobblestone streets from the past several centuries - beautiful, quaint, happily cramped, and the stuff that most of us see on postcards. What is less often seen is the really cool and modern interior/exterior design that also permeates the city.
Overlooking the water and the entire city to the south, the main central library cost 80 million Euros to build and is easily the coolest library you've ever seen, seemingly intended as much for the tourist as for the student.
The lighting and layout - seven floors in total - evokes an Apple store-ish feel, with several hundred Mac displays and hundreds of quiet corners to read or study.
Occasionally, you'll be able to catch a concert here, with a piano player or singer belting out tunes on a given afternoon, in addition to cultural events like art openings. If you're handy with it, you can simply sit down at the piano on the main floor and tickle the ivories.
Any time of day, you can head to the affordable chicness of Vapiano attached to the front of the building, or head to La Place on the 7th floor for all meals (tip: get the Thai stir-fry for lunch) or a dessert and a coffee, with sweet views and photo ops of the entire city.
When strolling around Amsterdam, one is amazed at the sheer number of sandwich shops. From gourmet to barely OK, the "broodje" is as ubiquitous here as raindrops and smelly cheese. It's fine - for the first few weeks - but you soon begin to dread the bread.
Enter Tomatillo. Their slogan is "Beyond the Broodje", and they couldn't have done a better job of adding something to the Dutch lunch (and dinner) table. Their Tex-Mex menu offers everything from burritos to tacos to tostadas, washed down with a cool Dos Equis or Negro Modelo and followed up with a amazing brownie or rhubarb crumble. All entrees are under 10 Euros, which helps the digestive system too.
It's all made fresh, tastes great, and friends from the UK and the States who know about such things claim it is one of the best places they've been to in town. I'll second that - I've tried everything on the menu.
You can sit down here, order a delivery, or just as easily take it away and turn the corner and park yourself on the grass in Vondelpark, not more than 200m away.
Istaba (the Room) is an art gallery, shop and restaurant. The small gallery shop will make you wonder – you can find there things from greeting cards to tableware, jewelery, matches, souvenirs, home design objects etc, all created by local artists. Monthly exhibitions to highlight different types of art work are organized here, so what will you see when you come depends on the exhibition which is currently on. If you are searching for original gifts or souvenirs, this place is just perfect – no trite nonsense or rubbish, but pure art even in small practical things!
If the shop already takes you into a little dream world where everything around you is a piece of art then the restaurant Istabas Bufete on the first floor allows you to dwell longer in this little La Boheme world. I think the best thing to order here is a glass of wine, although the food here is prepared by one of Latvia’s most popular local chefs Mārtiņš Sirmais. Here is just a small daily menu and if you want to eat something the chef himself will come and consult you what to order. That’s also the reason why it’s not possible to know how much money you have to take with you. You can get soup, fish, meat and vegetables for around 3 – 8Ls (£4-10) not the cheapest place, but the food there is always fresh, ecological and high quality – these are the values of the chef.
People admire or hate this place. Some of them go away from there totally unsatisfied with the service – no menu, no big choice, just what the chef offers, but mainly people leave with smiling faces and always return there to enjoy its atmosphere and celebrate life with a glass of wine and intellectual talks for hours.
Great little renovated Chinese shophouse with warm wood paneling inside. Cool vibe and menu includes lots of great veg dishes and hard-to-find ingredients such as quinoa. Not to be missed.
A lovely little Mexican restaurant has just opened up at the bottom of my Nan's road. I took my girlfriend there last Friday and we had a great time. The atmosphere was really nice and relaxed and the food was absolutely brilliant, I never knew chilli con carne could be so sexy.
Do not be perturbed by the sight of people emerging with armfuls of boxes from this unassuming little atelier. For the busy staff keep restaurants and and dinner parties well supplied with speculoos cheesecake and other delicious sweet and savoury tarts. I’ve spotted them all over the place – your party hosts will welcome them with a gleam in their eyes, others may try to pass them off as their own and restaurants will stay tight-lipped about where their desserts come from!
I particularly like the fluffy, light, lemony fromage blanc speculoos, the tangy tarte citron meringuée, the pêches framboises, the sucre brun, the barbecue quiche, the gourmand au chocolat … I’d better stop there. Perhaps they won’t travel well, perhaps you’ll have no dinner party to go to, but you can still enjoy one in the gardens of the Abbaye de la Cambre, a short walk away. The residential area around the abbey, Ixelles ponds and Place Flagey area is a good place for a wander.
A New York outpost of Les Tartes de Françoise opened recently, the first outside Belgium. Surely the first of many …
Hippodroomlaan 75, 1050 Brussels
+32(0)2 640 88 41
Google map: bit.ly/risXqD
Rebecca is our Been there local for Brussels. You can read her page and tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/brussels-local-rebecca.jsp.
She has her own blog at: www.becinbrussels.blogspot.com
Located in one of the arches under the railway line, Secondo is a delightful cafe and second hand clothing emporium. The arch is crammed with all manner of retro clothing, furnishings, there's even a caravan and a dinky bubble car! The menu is great and customers can request bigger portions if required to give strength to sort through the vast selection of vintage and retro clothing. A DJ plays music from the 1950s and 1980s in the caravan on Friday and Saturday evenings. Great idea, great place.
Gorgeous food on a mouthwatering menu: no wonder it's heaving at lunchtime. I choose the earlier breakfast with the divine eggs benedict, a huge variety of breakfasts, including the Full English, Veggie and Turkish (hash browns, halloumi, olives - yum), omelettes and sandwiches. For lunch, visitors are also spoiled for choice with spag bol, curries, burgers, panini, jacket potatoes and salads. This is all washed down with smoothies, drinking yoghurts and great coffees. Get in early to get a seat in this lovely bistro/cafe, with its foliage and scrubbed wooden tables.
Love Walk Cafe & Deli
81 Denmark Hill, London SE5 8RS
+44 207 703 9898
Open Mon-Fri 07.00-19.00, Sat 08.00-19.00, Sun 09.00-19.00
Overground to Denmark Hill, bus 35, 45, 68, 468
Google map: bit.ly/pdCHli
If you fancy brunch with the girls a la Sex and the City, Café Amandine might be right up your street. Not the cheapest but not eye wateringly expensive and certainly one of the loveliest.
The purple and green boutique interior is lovely, and the pastries excellent. Service could be quicker, but you’re here to linger so it doesn’t really matter.
Breakfast and brunch set menus are available every day, including “Parisienne” (croissant and coffee) or “Bonne Santé” (Greek yoghurt and muesli), as well as an a la carte menu offering a good variety of eggs – scrambled, poached and boiled. Café Armandiene also offers a weekend brunch special – a glass of something fizzy, coffee or tea, juice, and mini viennoiseries, eggs and breads for 295 CZK.
Quiche, tartines, sandwiches, hot dishes, salads, pancakes and blinis are also available throughout the day.
Na Moráni 1689/17, 120 00 Praha 2 - Nové Město, Czech Republic
Google map: bit.ly/q8Z7wW
Helen is our Been there local for Prague. Her page is here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/prague-local-helen-ford.jsp and she has her own blog here: czechingin.wordpress.com/
A fried fish restaurant. There are two parts to the restaurant, separated by a wide pathway. One sells cooked seafood by the kilo, and the other fried fish. You walk in, pick your number and choose from the delights before you. They pack it up for you in a plastic bag, and you make your way to one of the silver tables equipped with a little rubbish bin for you to dispose of the shells and skins. Then the carnage begins ... biting, peeling, sucking and picking at, trying not to waste any of the succulent treats. If you can manage some more, you should then go for some pescaito frito (fried fish).
Stop for a lunchtime sandwich at Mustachio, known throughout the city for its famous Italian-style sandwiches: generous portions of veal drenched in tomato sauce and parmiggiano reggiano, with layers of crispy, breaded and fried eggplant, fried onions and roasted peppers on warm foccacia bread. Mustachio also offers pasta dishes, soup and salads.
South Market, Lower Level B34
93 Front Street East
+1 416 367 VEAL (8325)
Google map: bit.ly/o8uT3m
Domino’s has an excellent selection of bulk goods. I like wandering in here, checking out the tightly packed aisles of nuts and dried fruit, candies, baking supplies, olive oils, spices, grains, imported teas and freshly ground coffee, ethnic foods and those hard to get items such as fregola sarda and black chick peas from Italy and dried lavender for baking. Dominos also stocks a very impressive collection of imported chocolates. My favourite: Pocket Coffee, individually-wrapped dark chocolate pralines that contain Italian liquid espresso in the centre.
South Market, Lower Level B8 / B17
93 Front Street East
+ 1 416 366 2178
Google map: bit.ly/o8uT3m
Scheffler’s Deli & Cheese has one of the largest selections of antipastos and appetizers in the market: stuffed peppers, olives, tomatoes and grape leaves; marinated olives, wild mushrooms, homemade pestos and dips. The deli selection is enormous, with one of the largest varieties of prosciutto in the city. Here’s an idea: grab some bread from any of the bakeries in the Market, and fill it with cheese and prosciutto from Scheffler’s – a great snack any time of day. And, just when you think you’ve seen everything the shop has to offer, you get to the cash register and admire the display of rare and hard-to-find chocolates, at reasonable prices to boot.
St. Lawrence Market, Upper Level 7
93 Front Street East
+1 416 364 2806
Google map: bit.ly/o8uT3m
Kenny and Daniel know their cheese, and they always provide great recommendations. Whether you want soft cheese, hard cheese, mild cheese, or the beautiful runny, stinky stuff, these guys are very knowledgeable and they always make me look good: my guests always rave about my cheese platters. Even if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can sample to your heart’s content and learn something new. The shop specializes in farmhouse cheese from Quebec and Europe.
Come off the M6 at junction 35. Morecambe is just a wonderful place for a stop off, and only a few miles from the motorway. Park anywhere along Marine Road, and take a bracing, and hopefully sunny walk along the sea front. If you're there late afternoon, the light can be glorious and taking photos of the sands, the boats with the Cumbrian hills over the bay is just a dream. Finish off with a cup of tea and scone at Eric's Cafe on Marine Road, which is just behind the delightful statue of Eric himself.
Eric's Cafe: 245 Marine Road Central, Morecambe LA4 4BJ
+44(0)1524 412 051
Google map: bit.ly/oKuoyX
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