Historic London Breakfasts: The Ace Cafe, Stonebridge

M@
By M@
Historic London Breakfasts: The Ace Cafe, Stonebridge
Interior shot of the Ace Cafe. The man in the mustard top is called Mike. He is not a biker.

Fancy your full English in an historic location? London has loads of options. This week, we're in a north-west London biker caff, which sprang up on the North Circular 80 years ago.

Breakfacts

Where: Ace Cafe, five minutes' walk from Stonebridge Park tube (Bakerloo). Most people come here on motorbikes.
Why is it historic: London's oldest and most famous motoring cafe, opened in 1938.
Mug of tea: £1
Grease-ometer: Our measure of the typical breakfast cuisine here.

What's the Ace Cafe like?

The Ace Cafe describes itself as 'the world's most famous motor cafe'. I can't argue to the contrary. The nearest I've ever got to biker culture is drunkenly watching Easy Rider half a lifetime ago. I don't own a leather jacket. I'm vegetarian. Would I be laughed out of the door?

A landmark of the North Circular

I needn't have worried. The Ace is supremely welcoming. Bikers, hairy or otherwise, made up about half the clientele on my visit, but the rest were drawn from all walks of life. Family groups, men in suits, chatty teens — much like any other cafe, but with a quondam herd of leathers.

Ace Cafe history

The Ace Cafe takes up an unpromising spot between the River Brent and the North Circular. It first opened in 1938, to serve the recently opened road. It's taken a battering over the years, smashed up in the Blitz, then closed throughout the 70s and 80s.

Since its rebirth just before the Millennium, the cafe has gone from strength to strength. Not only is this a cherished part of London's food culture, it also now has satellite branches in places as diverse as Orlando and Beijing.

What's the Ace Cafe breakfast like?

The London original is a classic diner, complete with jukebox, chequered floor and room-length serving counter. For such a famous cafe, now part of a global chain, it's also good value for money. The 'Special Breakfast' shown below came in at £8.55, while an equally stodgsome vegetarian version is a pound cheaper. In a place of leather jackets, you won't be fleeced. Other breakfast items include porridge, omelettes and Manx kippers.

The verdict

This is an excellent cafe in every respect, but it also serves as Stonebridge's premier (only) tourist attraction. Amateur photographers are everywhere. A small museum and shop provides souvenirs, including an irresistible box of Ace Cafe teabags. If you feel all grumpy about dining in that kind of environment, then 'ya boo sucks' to you. Otherwise, the Ace Cafe lives up to its name and should be on the bucket list of every curious Londoner, bike or no bike.

Ace Cafe, near the junction off Beresford Avenue, North Circular, NW10 7UD. Close to Stonebridge Park tube station. Open from 7am Monday-Sunday till late evening.

Last Updated 06 August 2019

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