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We visited Café 21, York – here’s what you need to know…

Style, convenience and affordability – this swanky York café / restaurant hybrid offers a tasty trifecta.

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 26.04.2023

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York makes for a great city break.

Whether for a day or a long weekend, the city is bursting with cute, cobbled streets (seemingly made for Instagram), each lined with all kinds of quirky boutiques, pubs, bars and restaurants that are guaranteed to entertain from dawn until dusk.

And one of the restaurants in York that you definitely shouldn’t miss? Café 21


Nestled on the second floor of Fenwick, in the heart of the Coppergate Shopping Centre, Café 21 is right in the thick of it.

Equidistant from The Shambles and York Castle Museum, and less than a 20-minute walk from the train station, the restaurant is perfectly placed for an afternoon admiring all that York has to offer.

Fancy cocktails by the river? Four minutes away. Dare for a scare down in The York Dungeon? Two minutes away. Want to indulge with some retail therapy? Right outside.

Everything is on Café 21’s doorstep.

The Merchant Adventurer’s Hall, York’s Chocolate Story, The Shop That Must Not Be Named, JORVIK Viking Centre, any number of bars and pubs, Michelin-starred restaurants and, of course, York Minster are all within a 10-minute walk of this York café.

So, you can leave your hiking boots at home.


Refinement. Style. Glamour.

Café 21 is swankier than your average York café, but more welcoming than other York restaurants.

While it’s admittedly a little disconcerting when you first step from a fashion shop floor into a contemporary restaurant, walk into Café 21 and you’re instantly greeted by a feeling of luxury.

Clean lines, ambient lighting, gold features, open space – in its décor, Café 21 exudes a welcoming elegance, while the bottles of Taittinger casually resting in an ice bucket on the bar, the marble bar and tabletops and the plush seating all lend themselves to an aura of indulgence.

And with indulgence, of course, comes relaxation. Whether it’s a mid-shopping coffee break, a celebratory afternoon tea or a three-course lunch with all the trimmings, you’ve come to the right place. The Café 21 team await your every request – from recommending dishes to sourcing extra condiments, we found nothing was too much trouble.

Meaning the only time you’ll need to lift a finger is to take a sip of your serve.


Café 21 really excels when it comes to choice.

With breakfast, all-day, fixed price, afternoon tea, patisserie and desserts, and Sunday menus to choose from (as well as a designated children’s menu, for the little ones), you could easily visit this York café every week for a year and discover something new each time.

And, as Café 21 invite their customers to arrive only when they’re quite ready to, bookings are never required – but can still be placed for convenience.

As we arrived around 12.30pm, we decided to dine from the Fixed Price menu – which offered two courses for £21.50 or three courses for £25.50.

A creamy carrot and coriander soup with chive oil and a lighter-than-air cheddar cheese and spinach souffle were followed by harissa-spiced chicken breast and tagliatelle with porcini, parmesan and parsley for our mains. The former was tender and succulent, served with anchovy butter and an almond and raisin salad that made for a unique twist on a classic dish, while the tagliatelle was the perfect fuel for exploring the city afterwards.

Not ones to balk at a challenge, we opted for dessert, too. Baked custard and poached Yorkshire rhubarb expertly balanced sour and sweet, alongside a devilishly decadent sticky date and ginger loaf, drizzled in toffee sauce and topped with vanilla ice cream.

All this, washed down with a selection of inventive cocktails – the Aviation, (Bombay Sapphire gin, Liquer de Violette, maraschino, lemon and amarena cherry) was a particular fave – and alcohol-free Natureo Muscat white wine for the designated driver.



10/10 – we’d come back in a heartbeat.

We found plenty of reasons why Café 21 is regarded by many as one of the best restaurants in York.

Whether it was the sumptuous flavour combos, impeccable service or Instagrammable interiors, or maybe it was simply the feeling of tranquillity that enveloped us as we dined, but there was something about Café 21 that captured our hearts as much as our stomachs.

Above all else, Café 21 is different.

Where else can you match sophistication with relaxation with quite as much ease? Which of the other restaurants in York city centre can you visit on a whim, where affordable dining looks so… classy.

Café 21 is as ideal for dressed-up celebrations as it is for casual, mid-shopping meet ups – diners in either party would feel quite as comfortable as the other – and it’s in this fact lies its beauty.

Plus, we had our attention stolen by some rather handsome-looking cakes from the patisserie menu that we’re determined to try sooner rather than later.

Dessert date, anyone?

To browse the menus and find out more about dining at Café 21 York, visit their website

Or you can follow Café 21 York on Facebook and Instagram 

Café 21, Fenwick, 2 St Mary’s Square, Coppergate Centre, York YO1 9WY

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