Planning a trip to Tayside? Here are the amazing cafes in Dundee you should definitely visit!
A heads up: there are so many gorgeous cafes in Dundee that you might not know about.
Due to the lockdown restrictions, we’ve all been spending more time in our local area than usual. I had a week’s holiday booked recently and had planned to go and stay in an Airbnb cottage up north in Scotland, something that I really enjoy doing. However, of course the pandemic put paid to that, and I had to cancel it and stay within my local region: the city of Dundee. At first I was pretty bummed about that.
Then I decided that I was just being a grumpy so and so. It’s not like there isn’t anything to do here – I’ve written a 3000 word blog post on the subject, right? So I decided if I couldn’t go on holiday properly then I would go ‘on holiday’ in my home city. I decided to reacquaint myself with some of the places in town that I hadn’t been to in ages… and some of the new ones. Because let’s be honest, that’s what going on holiday is all about of course – the eating part!
In my list you’ll find the best brunch spots in Dundee, the best place to grab lunch on the go, and where you can find rainbow bagels in Dundee. Oh, and the cafe I want to visit again for its super almond butter and berry compote-topped oats. If it’s going on the gram it might as well look good.
One final note: I’ve tried to include as much information as possible about the cafes in Dundee I visited in order to make your experience as seamless as possible. That includes their location, when they actually serve breakfast, and what’s on their menu. I don’t know about you but I love poring over menus and deciding what I want for ages before I visit somewhere. Making decisions on the hoof is not my idea of fun!
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the cutest cafes in Dundee…
I think I may have mentioned cute café Pacamara in my post on 25 things to do in Dundee already. However, it’s worth including again because if you’re looking for somewhere for breakfast in Dundee Pacamara really is the place. Located on the Perth Road in the west end of Dundee, it’s a little bit of a walk if you’ve only been milling around the city centre so far. I mean, Dundee is a small city so it’s not that much of a walk. It’s maybe around 15-20 minutes from the centre. It’s worth it anyway, as the food is amazing – and you can use it as a great starting point for exploring some of the cool independent shops in the west end.
One thing to note: Pacamara is always busy. I go running on Saturday and Sunday mornings (oh I know, how virtuous) and I’m always having to dodge past the clusters of people outside waiting for a table to be available. However, it’s busy for a reason, and that’s because, as I mentioned, it’s one of the best brunch places in Dundee. I also have it on good authority that the coffee is very good.
So what is on the menu at Pacamara? Well, it’s your usual fare, but done really well. They have waffles, eggs and bacon, Colombian eggs, French toast, and a full cookie brekkie. I opted for the bubble and squeak benny this time around, made up of poached eggs, bubble and squeak fritters (all made in-house), and silky smooth hollandaise slathered on top. I also ordered an extra topping of black pudding and bacon crumb. Beautiful!
If you get one of the window tables you can people watch like a pro while you’re eating, which is always my favourite thing to do. Just writing this has made me want to go back immediately, so if you are looking for some cool cafes in Dundee for breakfast or brunch, definitely add Pacamara to your list!
Location: 302 Perth Road Dundee DD2 1AU
Breakfast is served: 9.30am-11.30am, lunch menu thereafter
View their menu here
The Flame Tree Café
If we’re talking about cafes in Dundee you have to visit the Frame Tree Cafe. This is the home of the rainbow bagel. I know, I know, we’re entering peak Instagram territory now, but you can’t go to this place and not order one, because they look amazing. And to my delight, I found that they taste just as good as they look!
The Flame Tree Café is located on one of the coolest streets in Dundee – or downtown Dundee as it’s sometimes called – and it’s also one of my personal favourites. Why? Well, Exchange Street is lined with independent shops, cafes and restaurants. There’s the Cheesery, cute new café The Selkie, a comic book store, and Daily Grind Coffee – as well as Rancho Pancho’s Mexican restaurant on the corner, which always wafting amazing smells when I walk past. You’re also just a stone’s throw from the V&A museum, the town square, and lots of other bars and restaurants. When we’re all back to normal, it’s right in the heart of the buzz.
So what kind of food is on the menu at the Flame Tree Café in Dundee? Well, there’s freshly made soups, paninis, wraps, and a whole host of tempting cakes and traybakes. They all seemed to be staring at me from the counter and saying ‘eat me!’ when I went up to order. I managed to resist this time and went for the BLT rainbow bagel. You can choose from a whole host of toppings for your bagel – cream cheese, Nutella, jam, bacon, vegan cream cheese, and more. The hardest thing was just making a decision on what to have on it!
Oh, and if you’re into food that looks good on the gram they also have an array of milkshakes and cute coffees – the beetroot, turmeric and matcha latte options sounded really intriguing to me. I also wanted to give a shout out to the staff who were super lovely! Definitely stop by for a very yummy experience.
Location: 20 Exchange Street Dundee DD1 3DL
Opening hours: 10am-4pm
Heads up, this place is more of a deli and lunch place and they don’t have any seating inside. So really not a cafe at all! However, I loved two things about it: the inviting decor, and how fresh and delicious the food looked. I didn’t get a chance to eat here this time, having stopped by for a takeaway coffee after having breakfast at Madigans (see below). But as soon as I saw the decor I was just drawn to it like a magpie.
It was the decor that got me in… but then the freshness of the food that really impressed. While our coffees were being made I couldn’t help but marvel at all the delicious things on offer for lunch. There are signature sandwiches, salads, soups and a number of interesting sides – such as smoked salmon and prawn roulade. The tomato salad and pomegranate salad looked particularly tasty. I really wish I got a tub of it to take home for later. Oh, and of course there are cakes, all presented on stylishly on-trend slate boards.
That seems like a good ‘in’ to talk about the décor at Tayble Deli. I’m quite into interior styling, and when we came to Tayble I just spent a lot of time just looking around and drinking it all in for inspiration. It had it all: parquet flooring, white metro tiles with dark grouting, navy blue paint and lots of rustic charm – apples crates and shrubbery and a little nod to the location with Dundee marmalade ceramic jars.
Located on Bank Street, Tayble Deli is in the perfect spot if you work in the city centre and need to grab something for lunch. If you’re looking for an alfresco location to eat your lunch then I would recommend the Howff graveyard just around the corner – if that doesn’t sound too ghoulish that is. It dates back to 1564 so there’s loads of history and character, and there are also plenty of benches dotted around to sit down.
Location: 5A Bank Street, Dundee. DD1 1RL
Breakfast is served: there’s no breakfast, but it’s open from 10am-3pm
View their menu here
The Bach has been a central pillar in Dundee’s brunch scene for a while now, and it’s unique in the fact that it has Kiwi roots. Yes, the owners are originally from New Zealand, which gives a fresh take on brunch in the city. I hadn’t been to the Bach in a year or two but one thing I was reminded of when I tried to get away with a walk-in table is that it’s as popular as ever. I actually got turned away here the week before because there were no tables available, and I had to come back the week after. So top tip number one, if you want to visit The Bach at the weekend then definitely book a table online – which you can do here.
The Bach is located in the city centre in Meadowside, literally across the street from the McManus Gallery and the DC Thomson headquarters (home of the Beano!) and only a couple of streets away from the high street. I have to say I love the vibe at the Bach. It feels laidback and nothing is too ‘done’ in terms of the interior styling. I really love the industrial materials incorporated into their décor, such as the corrugated iron panel next to our table. With Dundee being such a post-industrial city, it feels like a nice fit. If you can get a seat upstairs I’d recommend it. It felt super chilled up there in comparison to the bustle downstairs and if you can grab a seat by the window it’s also a prime people watching position. My favourite activity, obviously.
Anyway, onto the food. As I mentioned, the Bach is a Kiwi-style café. There are nods to that heritage throughout – with the mince on toast option on the menu being one – but for the most part it offers up all the brunch and breakfast options you’d expect. I opted for the Bich of the Bach this time around, which is essentially a veggie cooked breakfast. It comes with halloumi, hash browns, tomato, mushrooms, wilted spinach, eggs, and their own Bach-style beans – sweet, smoky chickpeas that are very tasty. Everything was delicious! If you’re looking for laid-back places to eat brunch in Dundee, definitely make a visit to The Bach.
Location: 31 Meadowside, Dundee, DD1 1DJ
Brunch is served: All day – 9am-4pm
Get the menu here
Bird & Bear
Let’s just put it out there: Bird and Bear is one of the best all-rounders in Dundee.
Whether you stop by for breakfast, lunch, cocktails, dinner or drinks and dancing late on into the evening, I’ve never been disappointed when I’ve visited here. So what do I like most about Bird & Bear? Well, the food is great for a start. I would highly recommend their hanger steak – it’s sumptuous, delicious and surprisingly affordable. Next up is, ding, ding, ding… the décor. From the huge curved copper bar, green metro tiles, hanging bird cages, and jewel-coloured velvet chairs, this place has everything I like about design. Even their menus are beautiful, having been designed by Dundee maker Whimsical Lush.
You may be thinking that Bird & Bear doesn’t exactly sound like a café. You’re right. It’s not. But… and it’s a big but, if we’re talking about great breakfast and brunch spots in Dundee then I couldn’t not include it. Why? Because Bird & Bear does an AMAZING hip hop brunch at the weekend. Now, I’m speaking as someone who doesn’t even particularly LIKE hop hop music, but even I love it. Beats, bloody Marys, and bloomin’ good food are surely the perfect way to bring yourself back to life after a big night out – even if you can’t enjoy any alcohol in-house currently – and Bird and Bear gets them all spot on.
So what did I order for my breakfast at Bird and Bear this time around? I ummed and ahhed over the chorizo hash, the stack of fluffy American pancakes, and the full-on fry up. I eventually plumped for the classic eggs benedict and wow was I glad that I did. It was honestly the best eggs benny I’ve had in a long time. The hollandaise sauce was heavenly – so rich and buttery and decadent – and the eggs were perfectly runny. So good.
If you’re visiting Dundee I would insist you visit Bird & Bear – you won’t be disappointed.
Location: 2 Whitehall Crescent, Dundee, DD1 4AU
Breakfast is served: from 8am, 7 days a week
A confession: my pet peeve is when I read blogs about the best places to visit in Dundee and half the places on the list are in Broughty Ferry, which is a cute fishing town a couple of miles away. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Broughty Ferry. However, I also appreciate that often when you’re searching for cafes in Dundee you actually want to find, you guessed it, cafes in Dundee. However, I am big fan of Forgans in Broughty Ferry so I wanted to include it, but only with the loud and clear disclaimer that it’s NOT IN DUNDEE. All good?
The first thing we need to talk about is the décor at Forgans. What did I say, I like cute decor. If you’re like me and you like your brunch to come with a stylish backdrop that will look good on the gram then this place ticks all the boxes. From the moment I stepped off the street into their impressive entrance with its cobbles, twinkling lights, rustic crates filled with fresh flowers and even a lush, leafy, living wall, it was working for me. Inside it was just as stylish, with metro tiles, leather stools and a shabby chic bar.
The food went down well with me as well. I actually ordered not one, but two, brunch items. I could say I don’t get out much, but that’s not even true – I don’t even have an excuse. Anyway, I started with eggs benedict which was good… if not 100% perfect, with one of my eggs being ever so slightly over. This was made up for by my second course of French toast with maple syrup. I have an aversion to too much streaky bacon being served with French toast. However, this came with two slices of back bacon which were cooked perfectly. I would definitely love to stop by again and check out the menu for lunch and dinner.
If you do want to visit Forgans on your trip then Broughty Ferry is a mere bus journey away. You can get the 10, the 73A and a few other buses from the city centre and it should take you around twenty minutes. Oh, and there’s also another Forgans in St Andrews if you’d prefer to make a trip there instead.
Location: 234 Brook Street, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, DD5 2AH
View their menu(s) here
The Birchwood Food Emporium and Cafe
Onto my favourite cafe in Dundee. This place is a real find and I can’t believe it took me this long to visit! Located on Commercial Street in the city of town, just opposite Waterstones, The Birchwood Food Emporium and Cafe is gorgeous, include and out. The rich dark paintwork, wooden floors, cosy cushions and faux shrubbery dotted around the surroundings create a really cosy, rustic atmosphere that you just want to spend time in. The branding is also just really slick. It’s the kind of place Dundee has been calling for years. I’m just glad it’s arrived, and the good news is that the food more than lives up to the surroundings.
The Birchwood Food Emporium has a few unexpected cards to play in its breakfast menu, which was certainly very welcome from me. Cinnamon doughnuts, a fully vegan cooked breakfast, and build your own sourdough toast are just a few examples. I went for the build your own porridge in the end. It comes with a choice of toppings including fresh blueberries, mixed seeds, banana, peanut butter, and lots more. I chose the fruit compote and almond butter, which was a dreamy combination if there ever was one. The portion was more than generous so this filled me up for pretty much the entire day.
My boyfriend opted for the full breakfast, as per usual, which he also raved about. Having tasted how creamy and delicious the scrambled eggs were I will definitely be returning. I need to work my way through the rest of the menu! Oh, and to pick up a loaf of that cheese and chilli bread that was looking at me the whole time. Yes, there’s a whole selection of delicious looking food for sale at The Birchwood too – hence its Emporium name – and you really will be spoiled for choice. I just can’t wait to go back as soon as possible!
Location: 28-32 Commercial Street Dundee DD1 3EQ
View their menu here
Breakfast served from 9am-11.30am, lunch menu thereafter
I used to come to Madigans for lunch all the time when I worked in the city centre. Back in the days when we all still worked in offices, right? I distinctly remember being blown away by one of their specials, a fig, blue cheese and parma ham salad, on these lunchtime jaunts, and there were various other tasty looking dishes to choose from. However, I hadn’t been for ages. It was only when I went past it when I was running at the weekend (virtue signalling again, sorry) that Madigans was jolted back into my memory.
Why hadn’t I been there in so long? Well, a quick look at the menu on the window was enough to entice me back. The dish that jumped out for me instantly was their famous ‘green eggs and ham’. As Madigans is also a second-hand bookshop as well as a café, the Dr Seuss reference seemed more than appropriate. I decided to make and point of going that very same week.
Madigans is located on Castle Street in the city centre. With its cobbles and indie vibe it’s one of the most charming streets in the city. The street is also home to one of the oldest shops, tea and coffee merchants Braithwaites. Luckily, this Madigans fits right into its surroundings. Combining mismatched tables, cute crockery and rows of bookcases stacked full of well-thumbed classics, Madigans is rocking offbeat charm to a tee. We curled up in one of the cosy booths to enjoy what was a really delicious breakfast.
The green eggs and ham and it was even more delicious than I expected. Creamy scrambled eggs drizzled with pesto, a sliver of salty parma ham, and a heavenly potato scone topped with yellow, melting butter. And if you think the potato scone was one of those slippery pancake things, it really wasn’t. It was a crusty, savoury scone, and absolutely delicious. AS far as taste – and originality – goes, it was there in spades.
I would hate to be so cliché as to call this one of Dundee’s hidden gems, but I think it might be. If you’re looking for a cosy corner away from the world, Madigans might just be it.