Cars & Coffee: Five Great Car Cafes
The art of driving has taken a bit of a blow over the last couple of years. There was COVID and now the soaring price of fuel.
To combat these ills and dig your classic car out of hibernation requires a little extra incentive. And luckily for enthusiasts, we’ve got it, in the shape of a growing choice of cafes dedicated solely to the needs of car enthusiasts. Proper petrolhead destinations that provide great food and drinks at the start, middle or end of your drive.
These cafes have suffered in the lockdown so we want to shine a light on them.
Here are the ones we use personally and on our Road Trips. There are others, of course, so let us know in the comments and include a link.
1. Gilks’ Garage Cafe, Kineton, Warwickshire
What a simple, clever idea. Take an old garage service station, complete with petrol pumps, and turn it into a car- and bike-themed cafe.
Gilks’ opened a couple of years ago and has quickly established a reputation for its excellent food and friendly welcome. This is much more than a cafe with a theme - it’s clearly an enthusiast-run place with really good service, drinks and food.
The cafe is conveniently located if you’re planning a day out to the British Motor Museum at Gaydon. Despite having Caffeine & Machine just down the road it’s carved itself out as a well deserved alternative.
We will be stopping at Gilks on some of our Road Trips from 2022.
2. The Motorist, Sherburn, Yorkshire
Another relative newbie is The Motorist in Sherburn, Yorkshire. This complex of cafe, garage, showroom and event space is quickly gaining a reputation as a must-stop for anyone touring in the area. Which is well worth doing as the local roads are brilliant.
The Motorist is much more than a cafe, but the cafe is certainly worth a stop on its own. As you’d expect the food is good and the menu varied with good coffee at its heart. Or sign up to its mailing list and roll up to one of its many car meets. Or follow @idriveaclassic on Twitter for regular updates.
It is really heartening to see enthusiasts investing their own money in potentially risky ventures like this. And seeing them clearly pay off.
3. Caffeine & Machine, Stratford, Warwickshire
The arrival of C&M two years ago surely cannot have passed many petrolheads by. Its origin story merits an article in itself. Caffeine & Machine has risen from the derelict remains of an unloved old Stratford pub into a must-stop destination for all car enthusiasts, from Morgan drivers to McLaren owners.
The joy of C&M is that it is a meeting place for anyone and everyone who loves anything with a motor and wheels. We stop there weekly during our season on our Road Trips and the car park is always full of surprises.
Weekends are rammed but try a weekday for a gentler pace and an always interesting choice of car park spots.
4. Cafe Express, Llandridnod Wells
The unassuming Cafe Express just north of Llandridnod Wells stands in stark contrast to newbies like Caffeine & Machine. It’s an institution, a must-do stop off for anyone exploring the brilliant mid-Wales roads or heading up to the Evo Triangle.
Cafe Express is traditional: it really is just a cafe. There’s no motoring art, no artfully placed motoring objects, no posh coffee. It is a motoring cafe from when motoring required stops for cafes.
And that is what makes it great. Like C&M, without trying at all Cafe Express is a meeting place for lovers of machines. The huge car park is always full cars, bikes and campers passing through, of people exploring, journeying and adventuring. Stories get told, tips get shared.
We stop at Cafe Express on our Break For The Border Road Trip.
Website: There isn’t one. Find it at Crossgates near Llandridnod Wells.
5. The Ace Cafe, London
Before motoring-themed cafes were a thing there was The Ace Cafe. It’s the daddy, the original, the template.
And what a template. From its beginnings as a hang-out for bikers in the 60s The Ace has evolved and stayed successful, yet remained true to its central ethos: serving good food to car and bike people in a great setting.
And what a setting. Right beside the North Circular, then and now one of London’s busiest arteries, the Ace is (relatively) easy to get to and once you do you’re amongst fellow petrolheads. The Ace has a very distinctive 60s vibe, a great reminder of a swinging era in British history.
There are regular events and a mailing list to sign up to.
You can visit Cafe Express, Gilks Garage Cafe and Caffeine & Machine on our range of Road Trips. Find out more here.
Graham Eason, Great Driving Days, 01527 893733