The best specialty cafés in Singapore

We check out what makes these six cafés stand out from the rest
By Time Out Singapore editors |

Whether you're craving for round-the-clock caffeine or Halal baked goods or tasty French-style pancakes, hit up these cafés that do these dishes and drinks well. 

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Crêpes and galettes

icon-location-pin Chinatown
The Daily Roundup

This pastel-hued café – it’s a part of co-working space The Working Capitol – does only one thing, but does it well: the French pancake. Sweet options range from your basic butter sugar crêpes ($10) to one crowned with berries, whipped cream, caramelised almonds, fruit coulis and ice cream ($18). They’re made with butter imported from the maison of French artisan Jean-Yves Bordier, so you know The Daily Roundup’s pretty serious about its stuff.

The savoury galettes – unlike crêpes, they’ve got buckwheat flour in them – are better. You’ll want to stick to the basic Complète ($16), with ham, Comté cheese and a sunny-side up, blanketed in a toothsome, slightly crispy thosai lookalike (no, they don’t taste remotely alike).
Restaurants, Cafés

Halal cakes and pastries

icon-location-pin Rochor
All Things Delicious

Don’t go searching for All Things Delicious at Crawford Lane – the Halal café has since moved to bigger and brighter lodgings (courtesy of the skylight) on Arab Street. Baked goods are the order of the day with sweet offerings like sticky toffee puddings ($6.90), carrot cakes ($6.90) and gula Melaka scones ($3), to name a few. And good news for fans of the perpetually sold-out Mel’s house-blend granola ($12/500g): the new location has a larger kitchen, so the café hopes to produce more quantities of the crunchy rolled oats mixed with almonds, coconut, treacle and sea salt.

For heartier meals, try the wholesome breakfast ($16.90) that comes with scrambled eggs, mushrooms, Moroccan-spiced tomato relish and smoked salmon. On weekends, opt for the shakshuka – a Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in tomatoes, capsicums and onions – topped with sour cream.
The Lab SG
Photo: Alan Leong
Restaurants, Cafés

'Breaking Bad' fans

icon-location-pin Rochor

The Lab SG

Fans of Breaking Bad will appreciate this café, but it’s got nothing to do with meth – beakers, test tubes and copper pipes create a lab-like atmosphere that’s way homelier than Walter White’s laundromat. Try the Heisenberger ($17), a cheeky salute to the drug baron, that sandwiches a thick beef patty and crispy turkey bacon strips between soft buns. Caramelised onions, tomato sauce and blue crystal cheese finish the monster.

The Lab also doles out staples such as pastas, salads, sandwiches and desserts like pandan buttermilk waffles with coconut ice cream ($15). Other than being Muslim-friendly – it uses only Halal ingredients, but the café itself isn’t certified – The Lab also has options for vegans in its Porto Peanut and Porta Huerta mushroom burgers ($13). To wash it all down, go straight for the soda sparkler concoctions like the Heisenberg ($7), a mix of orange syrup, lime, mint and blue curacao.


24/7 coffee

icon-location-pin Tanglin
Jen's Kitchen On-the-go

No matter how cushy they are, hotel lobbies are probably not the first place you’d think of when you’re on the hunt for artisanal coffee. This ‘café’ hopes to throw that notion out the floor-to-ceiling window. Found in Hotel Jen Tanglin’s lobby, Jen’s Kitchen On-the-go has all the fixings de rigueur of a modern hipster hangout: wooden accents, brick walls, Tokyobike lazing around the space and, of course, legit coffee cred.

Local coffee supplier Nomad the Gallant is the brains behind the bar, offering coffee, tea, wine, juice and dirty milkshakes. The Nutella Latte ($4) is an indulgence, but to really push it over the edge, try the Death by Brownie milkshake ($11) – it's the chocolate fudge that takes it OTT. For the calorie-conscious, the feel-good juice smoothies (from $11) and teas (from $5) should hit the spot.

And true to the café’s name, a well-stocked fridge also offers ready-to-go options such as fruit, salad and sandwiches so you can dash off to that important meeting. But you might just find yourself staying beyond a quick cuppa – the quietude of this 24/7 café, coupled with the allure of free WiFi, aren't easy to resist.

Do.Main Bakery
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography
Restaurants, French

Freshly baked breads

icon-location-pin Marine Parade
Do.Main Bakery

You’ll find no shortage of rustic French fare and freshly baked breads at this boulangerie helmed by pastry wizard Frederic Deshayes. Once you’re done admiring the glass cases flour-ished with quiches, croissants, Danishes, cookies, tarts and other pastries of all shapes and sizes, get your jaws around the tartiflette ($17). It’s got potatoes baked with Reblochon cheese, onions and bacon, served with a basket of toasted cereal bread soldiers so you can mop up every bit of that gently pungent dairy.

Also try the duck confit parmentier ($17.20), the French answer to shepherd’s pie. Pulled duck meat is concealed under a blanket of mashed potato gratin that’s smooth, creamy and kissed by a golden crust. If you’ve an inclination for sweets, the pear and almond Tart Bourdaloue ($5.40) works up a light treat. Finely sliced pears are poached and glazed then layered on an almond cream-coated pâte brisée: a sweet, flaky and buttery shortcrust pastry.


Craft beer

icon-location-pin Bukit Merah

Red Baron

‘Checking out art’ is not the only excuse you’ll need to trek out to Gillman Barracks. Because at the end of the arts enclave sits this tiny brick-walled shed that turns out al dente pastas and a genuine love of craft beer, courtesy of co-owner Prashant Somosundram, who cut his teeth at Artistry.

The star here is the aglio prawn pasta hybrid ($14), with satisfying crumbs of fried garlic and rings of chilli padi tossed with meaty curls of the crustacean. The cross-cuisine approach to cooking also shows up in the plate of red quinoa, each seed fried in love-it-or-hate-it kecap manis, with prawns, chicken and chopped chilli padi. And if you're not sipping down a smooth cup of Liberty Coffee bean extract (from $4), make it a point to knock back a beer ($14-$16) with a rich slice of cake ($8). Red Baron also occasionally plays host to craft beer mini-festivals, with the grassy, isolated locale giving it a secret underground party vibe.

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