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Regional: Western Europe
Great cafes in Paris, Rome, Berlin, Brussels
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EricZeiler
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Joined: 29 Dec 2003
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Posted Fri Jan 23, 2004, 10:02am
Subject: Great cafes in Paris, Rome, Berlin, Brussels
 

I'm headed to Europe in a month and wanted to get some recommendations for great espresso in the above European cities.  If anyone has any favorite places, let me know.  Thanks!

-Eric
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HB
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Joined: 3 Apr 2003
Posts: 2,913
Location: Cary, NC
Posted Fri Jan 23, 2004, 9:29pm
Subject: Re: Great cafes in Paris, Rome, Berlin, Brussels
 

I'll offer some suggestions for Paris tea salons and cafés:

  • Angelina's (Rue Rivoli, métro Concorde or Rivoli) - gets a lot of tourist traffic but still worth the stop.  They are known more for their chocolat chaud noir than coffee.  It is easy to OD on chocolate there.  You've been warned.  They serve a good lunch too.
  • Les trois abeilles (métro Motte Picquet or Champs de Mars) - a short walk from the Eiffel tower; run by three sisters.  If they have the raspberry strudel, get it.  They close very early.  Not far from a wonderful restaurant, Les Fountains du Champs de Mars.  Reservations required.  The magret de canard is simple yet fabulous.  Great wine selection and the waiters are very well informed.
  • Pagoty's (métro Motte Picquet) - easier to find than Les trois abeilles; artsy, quiet, sinfully delicious pastries.  And of course, good teas and coffees.  Two of the best boulangeries in Paris are a five minute walk from there (L'Epée de blé on the same street and Boulangerie Poujauran on rue Jean Nicot).  Rue Cler is one street over.  While overrun with tourists in the spring, the Café du Champs de Mars is a real price performer for dinner and has year-round terrace dining (if it is too busy, their other restaurant is on La Motte Picquet and serves the same meals, albeit with less ambience).  There is also a good crêpe stand there if you want a quick bite (it looks like a phone booth).  An eastern European couple owns it.  The husband is friendly, the wife always seems to be in a bad mood.
  • Marriage Frères - (métro Notre Dame, I think) - several locations, known for their huge selection of teas and coffees.  Pricey.

Hmmm-m, these are all first and foremost tea salons.  I'll warn you in advance that Paris has plenty of mediocre espresso.  Go for the ambience, always get a croissant or pain au chocolat with your café au lait in the morning.  We lived in the 7th near the Champs de Mars for a couple years, so most my selections will be in that general vicinity.

-- Dan

PS: If you really want to see Paris off the beaten path, get a copy of Paris Pratique (blue cover, costs around 6 euro).  It is available at most newstands and details every single street.  If you speak French, ask someone to show you how it works.  With this handy guide, you will never never get lost and find even the most obscure cafés and restaurants.  Whatever you do, don't venture out with one of those hotel tourist maps.

 
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Neku
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Neku
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Posted Sun Jan 25, 2004, 10:00am
Subject: Re: Great cafes in Paris, Rome, Berlin, Brussels
 

Great cafes (for coffee at least) are rare in Brussels. You can try Corica (near the Bourse, the Stock Exchange): they roast their own (sometimes poorly), and have a large choice of different origin coffees. Don't expect espresso, though, they grind too coarse. Someone mailed me recently to praise this coffeeshop but I haven't tried them myself and I don't know if you can drink any coffee there. Great food is everywhere, mostly around the "Vismarkt", stay away from the tourist trap called the Rue de Bouchers. Good luck!

 
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bish128
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Posted Fri Jan 30, 2004, 7:38pm
Subject: Re: Great cafes in Paris, Rome, Berlin, Brussels
 

Rome is full of cafes and most are quite good.  

My favorite coffee is at Sant'Eustachio right near the Pantheon.  If you ask fo the standard "cafe" you'll get an expertly prepared cup of espresso with a precise amount of sugar already added.  The Italians have a saying, "Life is bitter so your coffee should be sweet."  The amount of sugar at Sant'Eustachio is not enough to make it sweet, but it creates an interesting balance.

What is purported to be the best is located nearby, at Tazza d'Oro.  I haven't been there, but it's on my short list of things to do the next time I return.

Other than those two, Castroni cafes are always good for a quick shot when it's raining.  As a general rule the Romans know where to go, so if no one in the place speaks English you're on the right track.  A corollary to this rule is to stay away from the heavily touristy areas.  One exception seems to be a cafe across from the side entrance to the Vatican, on via Borgo Pio.  It's quite popular with the after mass crowd on Sunday morning and is close to a great photo shop too (Cocacolor).

Have a great trip!
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