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Amber Ember
Amber Ember

The best heartland cafés in Singapore

We round up the best cafés to drop by while you're in the 'hood

Written by
Time Out Singapore editors
&
Kylie Wong
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Who says the heartlands aren't as cool as the bustling city? Tucked into cosy corners of charming residential areas, these spots provide quality brews and hearty meals – all at the comfort of your doorstep.

RECOMMENDED: The best cafés with free wi-fi and the best coffee roasters in Singapore

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Serangoon

This all-day brunch spot scores big on its menu, which was recently updated with items like Peruvian chicken skewers ($14.50), house blend cold brew ($6.50), spinach scrambled egg atop a black charcoal sourdough ($13.50) and pesto pasta with 63-degree egg ($16.50). The café's chic and spacious interior is done up in industrial cool tones with slate grey floors and hanging bulbs, making it the perfect spot to chill if you're in the Serangoon 'hood. 

Amber Ember
  • Restaurants
  • Serangoon

The warm, inviting space of Amber Ember can be attributed to its dusky pink walls, strategically placed potted plants and rustic wooden furniture. The photogenic café is also known for its "jaffle", which is a toasted sandwich of various fillings pressed in a cast iron. From the lot, we spy with our little eye Cheesus Loves You ($14), featuring a melted gruyere, emmental and mozarella stuffing, and Nice to Meat You ($15), stuffed with beef pepperoni, pork chorizo and bratwurst. There are also other food items such as Amber's Fried Chicken ($12) for sharing and a range of pastas. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Bedok

Café de Nicole has many things going for it. Not only is the Instagrammable joint a floral shop and café, it's pet-friendly to boot, and its resident pet is an adorable, docile British shorthair named Laoban ('boss' in Mandarin). Dishes like the picture-perfect rose latte ($7.90), soufflé pancakes (from $15.90) and cheese filling ravioli ($13.90) are aesthetically pleasing, with flowers picked fresh from the florist corner to accompany the gorgeous silverware. 

  • Restaurants
  • Bedok

Yes, it’s all about the beans at Dutch Colony Coffee Co. But you’ll want to balance out the caffeine with this quaint Siglap café’s breakfast and brunch menu. There are hearty platters with scrambled eggs, sausages and turkey bacon ($16), and a Colonial Beef Burger ($19), which slathers mango chilli aioli and melted Emmenthal over a juicy patty. If the breakfast is enough to get you out of bed nice and early, the coffee will do an even better job. Dutch Colony expertly pours its brews (from $6) – you can choose either manual pour-over or by machine.

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  • Restaurants
  • Singaporean
  • Marine Parade

Sinpopo aims to emulate Singapore as it was in the '80s, with its grilled shophouse storefront, tiled floors and rattan chairs. Much of the furniture is also made by the owners of the brand, a testament to the effort put into this joint. Food here is prepared the traditional way – its nasi lemak rice  ($28 for two) is steamed in a muslin cloth, and its coffee is made Nanyang-style with the kopi sock ($6).

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Bedok

This East Coast coffee joint (two blocks away from 112 Katong mall) is a charming mashup of the rustic and the eclectic: a nondescript shopfront set further back allows space for a bike stand by the door and a cute take-out counter, but the interior channels industrial chic, with bare designer lightbulbs, cosy booth seats, a bar counter made from recycled railroad ties and a communal table. The joint serves up single origin coffee ($4) and a house blend in a variety of ways. Our favourite is the iced coffee ($6), served with an orange rind for a pop of citrusy fragrance. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Hougang

Nestled within the sleepy Hougang neighbourhood, Wild Blooms is a cosy café with an impressive flower wall and picturesque tinted windows. Be sure to order its flower tea jelly cake ($12.90), handmade with cold brewed tea; the flower in a pot ($9.90), a moist, light sponge cake layered with white chocolate ganache; rose apple pie ($5.90), a freshly-baked puff filled with apple slices slathered in apricot jam; and the ice-cream waffles ($10.90), which are soft and crunchy in equal measure. While Wild Blooms has an extensive tea menu that allows you to create your own blend (from $5.50 a pot), coffee lovers don't miss out either. The café's lavender white cold brew ($6.50) is a rich and addictive concoction, made by its owners with a coffee blend sourced from local roastery Tad coffee. 

  • Restaurants
  • Changi 

Located on the outskirts of Changi, this casual dining hotspot is a treasure trove of retro memorabilia. Think antique bicycles, vintage cameras and kerosene lamps. The restaurant itself is spacious and airy, flooded with natural light due to its floor-to-ceiling windows, while surrounding greenery contributes to its peaceful, out-of-town vibe. The menu includes sharing plates like har cheong gai (prawn paste chicken) ($14), crispy pork ribs ($16) and wagyu cubes ($24), while seafood selections like the grilled octopus ($31), sambal squid ($21) and drunken lala clams ($23) promise to be fresh and filling. 

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Geylang

A stone's throw away from MacPherson MRT, you can expect a non-flamboyant exterior when you walk up to this café’s storefront. But stroll in and a massive pink sakura tree spanning the entire ceiling welcomes you. Serving house-made ice-cream, flavours at this joint range from classics like vanilla and strawberry to more unique ones like Japanese sweet potato and sesame. Get yourself a scoop ($3.50 for single; $6 for double), or pick up other items from the menu, like sandwiches ($5.90), fries ($5) and baked mid wings ($5.80).

  • Restaurants
  • Kent Ridge

Local ice cream parlour Creamier has a new alfresco outlet at Gillman Barracks. Its rotating menu of 12 signature flavours ($3.30/scoop), such as Thai milk tea, and five other seasonal flavours ($3.70) can be added to its stellar waffles ($6) for a satisfying midweek treat. The Gillman Barrack location also mints three exclusive flavours to try – kaya-flavoured scoops topped with toasted bread crumbs for crunch ($3.30), pomegranate yogurt and chewy attap chee ($4.20) and Macadamia Tropicana ($4.20), a summery combination with pineapple and coconut. 

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Atlas Coffeehouse
  • Restaurants
  • Bukit Timah

Assembly Coffee gets a sibling café in the Coronation neigbourhood. Atlas Coffeehouse is owners Daphne Goh and Lionel Ang realisation of a goal to serve more hot food than Assembly's tiny kitchen can handle. Star dishes include the creamy mushrooms on sourdough ($12) and glazed salmon and a fried egg with crisped edges on soba noodles ($17). Assembly's ever-popular waffles ($12-$14) are also on the menu here, and Atlas has also introduced pancakes topped with caramelised bananas or honeycomb ice cream ($18) to its desserts menu. If you plan on being productive after a meal like that, the coffee programme's ($3.50-$4.50) worth buying into. 

  • Restaurants
  • Bedok

Located along Bedok Road is Badoque Café, a restaurant that serves up Asian fusion, Greek and Mediterranean fare. To try on its menu is the beef ribs ($36), that come in generous portions doused in homemade barbecue sauce. Other dish highlights include the pan-fried salmon with mashed potatoes ($24) and spaghetti with chunks of salmon belly ($22).  A second outlet is located at 246 Upper Thomson Rd.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Bishan

With the Upper Thomson area experiencing a café rush, One Man Coffee comes along to add some serious cred to the java scene brewing there. Mostly fronted by spunky Sarah Jane Lin (formerly in the kitchen of Peranakan gastrobar Immigrants) and Melbourne- based barista Soh E-gene, the cosy nook shares the same shophouse space with gourmet pizza bar Crust, so you’ll have the option for a full meal paired with coffee ($3-$9) from famed Melbourne outfit Axil Coffee Roasters. Lin fronts her personalised corner counter in the day, teaming a variety of pastries (sourced from artisanal bakery B.A.O) with light brunch bites like the chilled soba ($10), featuring charred corn, sakura ebi and spicy sesame dressing, and its nutty brioche French toast ($10) served with homemade berry compote and fresh cream. For an additonal $3, you'd get to add a scoop of ice cream atop your toast.

Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Bishan

Brought to you by the team behind Oz Specialty Coffee, Pacamara Boutique Coffee Roasters serves up its main star of coffee alongside dishes like the breakast-essential egg florentine ($18), berries pancakes ($18), jumbo chicken leg ($18), and slow-cooked ox cheek ($24). Besides coffee, the place also serves up a mean range of craft beer. 

More cafés this way

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