London’s classic caffs are sadly dwindling. In honour of the last ones standing, we raise our mugs to the plastic ketchup bottles, pleather banquettes and genial hosts who have fortified generations of our city’s workforce. We’ll have a full English please.
Gambardella, Blackheath, SE3
Gambardella opened in 1927 and is now run by James and Alex Petrillo, who hire the venue out to film companies. The Vitrolite glass walls at the front open up onto a stunning Formica back room. Part of the interior was an old Lyons tea room.
River Café, Putney Bridge Approach, SW6
Feed your belly and feast your eyes on the splendidly retro blue tile work and murals. Classic Vitrolite panels and original mosaics are complemented by no-nonsense Formica tables and a busy counter manned by your Italian hosts.
Regency Café, Westminster, SW1
Regency’s art deco interior featured in the Daniel Craig movie Layer Cake and Pimlico’s classic greasy spoon also featured in last year’s remake of Brighton rock. The lady at the counter is reputed to run this establishment ‘like a drill sergeant’.
E Pellicci, Bethnal Green Road, E2
Established in 1900 and reputedly a meeting spot for the Krays, this East End institution and art deco-inspired gem run by Nev Pellicci has been Grade II listed. Choose from freshly made lasagne, a traditional full English or pie and mash.