Maus Hábitos

Maus Hábitos: ‘a space of cultural intervention’ very much lives up to its name. It’s a cosy cultural hub that seamlessly transforms from workspace to gallery and from gallery to cocktail bar and nightclub. Who says you can’t have it all?

It’s the type of place that, unless you do your research, you would have to stumble upon completely by chance. Through an unassuming entrance on Rua de Passos Manuel, you take a lift up four floors, passing a large car park on your way, and there you’ll find yourself at the top of one of Porto’s most impressive Art Deco buildings. Its long windows let in the red neon lights from the Coliseu, (the theatre and music venue on the other side of the road), throwing Maus Hábitos’ sleek, main space into another era.

Usually open from noon until 2am (and later on the weekend), Maus Hábitos puts on all kinds of exhibitions, hosts talks and screens films all the while serving fresh and wholesome food and drinks at very reasonable prices. All this can be enjoyed in the simply but stylishly designed main room with parquet flooring and a choice of deep sofas, long benches or monochrome 50s style chairs to perch on. Or, if you prefer, you can go outside into the courtyard to soak up some rays in the bright Moroccan Riad-style garden with its electric blue walls and dreamily hanging plants.

Once the sun sets, the music gets turned up a notch and Maus Hábitos becomes the perfect spot for a casual after work drink. And then, a little while later, tables are rearranged and space is made for whichever band or DJ is on that night. Suddenly, what was once the dining area is now the dance floor. Past the garden, through a glass walled corridor lined with cushioned benches, another room opens making for a spacious and varied venue. Whether you’re looking for a light lunch in a beautiful spot, a little culture, or a big night out, Maus Hábitos is sure to deliver.

R. de Passos Manuel 178, 4º Piso
4000-382 Porto

Photos by Daniel Pires

Anisha Mistry Pop-Up Kitchen

As life becomes evermore busy and more fast-paced than ever, we are often left with little desire to slave over the kitchen hob and rustle up something inspiring after a very long and stressful day at the office. Pop-up kitchens are the new trend, to not only sample delicious food, but also as a new-age way to socialise within the comfort of your own home, or even host fabulous dinner parties without the pressure of doing the cooking yourself.

I was delighted to discover Anisha’s Pop-up kitchen here in La Zubia, Granada. I was even more thrilled to discover that she also offers the service of cookery classes within the comfort of your own home too! Specialising in healthy cuisine, she prides herself on using all locally produced ingredients in season, so you are guaranteed only the highest of quality when you dine with her. Moreover, she works alongside many food manufacturers that supply sustainable produce, supporting local businesses in the south of Spain.

The type of dishes you can expect to find, range from a plethora of multicultural delights. Anisha successfully draws her inspiration from her heritage and travels, as well as her decade working in the food industry, to produce dishes from Thailand, India and Spain to name but a few! She utilises her expertise to create unique recipes she has developed herself over the years.

When I had the pleasure of dining with her, I was treated to a gluten-free menu consisting of a revitalising Asian chicken and ginger soup, courgette and halloumi baked fritters served with a greek yoghurt lemon dip, and a seasonal summer salad with jamón Serrano, blueberries and figs. These were served with the perfect sparkling white wine and strawberry accompaniment on her gorgeous sunny terrace in Andalucía. What more could a girl ask for?


George Street Canteen

To say I was pretty damn pleased when I first discovered the George Street Canteen would not be an exaggeration. As a long-time St Albanser, I was happy to see that a fashionable yet unpretentious and accessible socialising joint had opened in the centre’s midst. I’ve long been worried about this historic city losing its character, and the almost simultaneous openings of a Pret and a Costa – side by side on the main shopping street – a few years ago had only served to cement my negative feelings.

The George Street Canteen is everything Pret and Costa are not. It is family-run, characterful and hidden. A homely secret you’ll only know about if you look for it.

In summer, the courtyard is bustling with people and their dogs munching at the picnic tables. In the colder months, the courtyard is still sometimes bustling, thanks to a marquee with patio heaters. Inside, the Canteen is divided to a kitchen and room with a serving counter to the right, and a cosy dining room to the left. These multiple rooms give the place its homely and retro feel; the latter effect is multiplied by the peg walls and diner-style tables.

Food wise, you’re in for a treat whether you’re a meat eater, vegetarian, or gluten-free. Thanks to a previous visit before my vegetarian days, I can report that the ham-hock and wholegrain mustard sandwich, served on fluffy brown bread with crisps and coleslaw, is divine. My most recent visit involved a Mediterranean breakfast, but with the chorizo swapped for halloumi. The perfectly-cooked salty cheese and soft sweet potatoes provided a varied backdrop for bursting twin bubbles of poached eggs and juicy, roasted cherry tomatoes. These were served with a pot of avocado mash for good measure. This came in at £7.95 on its own, or £9.95 with fruit juice and a hot drink.

More importantly than anything, though, the home-made dog biscuits were absolutely delicious. Well, so my pooch’s face suggested.

Overall, the George Street Canteen does a great job at bringing a cosmopolitan but individual feel to a small city whose chain stores can sometimes make it feel like a smaller copycat of the ginormous capital city that is its neighbour. Considering how so many of its residents are commuters to the metropolis, the more places like this that St Albans can sprout, the more it will feel like a quirky and fashionable destination in its own right.

9a George Street,
St. Albans
+44 1727 831540

A Sandeira

In a city where the walls are full of street art and scribbles, you could be forgiven for not noticing the stencilled moka pot that marks A Sandeira. Although its location on a steep pedestrianised street is hard to find, thankfully the name gives a clue to any accomplished linguist as to what the place is renowned for..

With only a few tables inside it’s not uncommon to have to wait, but it’s certainly worth it.  The cosy place has a coordinated but relaxed decor and its friendly service greet you warmly after you clamber up the cobbled hills to reach the cafe.

This vegetarian-friendly place offers a selection of sandwiches, soups and salads. Take advantage of the very reasonable lunch deal that for 6 euros offers either soup and a sandwich, or the salad of the day and a drink.

Admittedly it is not as “traditional” as the local haunts that will offer you a filling, hearty and occasionally slightly stodgy lunch meal. However, A Sandeira offers a healthier and equally satisfying alternative if you’re a bit bored of a large metal tray of chips accompanying a piece of fish or meat.

Be warned that the choice of sandwiches is vast enough to distress any indecisive customer. From traditional favourites to more creative experiments (Prosciutto, brie and mango- don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it) you’ll be sure to eventually come to a decision.

I will try not to get carried away with my description of the quality of the sandwiches, but they are deserving of high praise. The fresh sourdough bread and filling of your choice will give you the fuel you need to continue your day. The sandwiches are roughly the size of a human head (albeit quite a small one!)

Altogether, a relaxed and trendy spot for travellers and young Porteños alike. I can offer you a helping hand in suggesting that you make the effort to find this place, but unfortunately, I can’t help you with your order.

However, be safe in the knowledge that whatever you chose you’re unlikely to be disappointed.

Rua dos Caldeireiros 85, Porto, Portugal

Siam Smiles

Nestled in a basement along the vibrant streets of Chinatown, Central Manchester, is the unassuming, perfect lunch spot, Siam Smiles. What is mainly a Thai supermarket doubles up as a restaurant serving some no-fuss, big-flavour Thai food. Because it’s so well-hidden, it’s one of the few places you can eat on a Saturday lunchtime in Manchester that isn’t completely rammed, with the added bonus of quick service! Its quieter atmosphere doesn’t dictate the quality of the food, however…

A generous portion of your favourite Thai dish will set you back around £7-9, which in my opinion is 100% worth it. I’ve never tasted a more flavourful pad thai (no, I’m not very adventurous)! The portion was big enough for me to take the rest home for tomorrow’s lunch, which I always count as a win.

If you’re looking for mellow moods and ambient tunes to chew your noods, this might not be the place for you. But this basement wonder certainly does offer great value, authentic food. Having been reviewed a couple of years ago by The Guardian, the secret might already be out on this one, so hurry before the queues form! You would walk straight past this gem if you didn’t know where you were looking, so keep your eyes peeled next time you’re wandering the colourful streets of Chinatown.

48A George St
Chinatown, M1 4HF
+44 161 237 1555

Café Pushkin

Café Pushkin is found on a stretch of road in Leipzig with more independents than chains. But this café is different. To start with, the creeping vines over the golden and maroon exterior, at once warm and inviting, makes Pushkin frankly impossibly to miss. And yet inside, you are transported somewhere else entirely. The Slavic influenced interior and memorabilia on the walls gives a nod to the 19th Century Russian poet, the café’s namesake.

I first came here on a drab Monday morning and pushing back the heavy velvet curtains revealed a cosy and warm café – the perfect refuge from the rain.  As a big tea fan I was delighted to see their great selection of loose leaf teas. There are also thirteen different hot chocolates to choose from – all very authentic, consisting of melted chocolate in a mug.

The breakfasts are infamous, too. You can rely on getting a hearty breakfast here a ‘Bauernomelett’ (which translates as the farmer’s omelette) will set you back €7.50 but is guaranteed to fill you up until dinner. That’s if you can get a seat. By 10.30am on a Saturday they are usually full and customers stand hovering by the entrance waiting to catch the next available table. There are also lunch and dinner menus and some satirical titles, such as ‘Formidabel cheese’ (a huge cheese burger) and ‘Huhnululu’ (Hawain inspired ‘Huhn’ chicken dish) are both inventive and ‘punny’. Their burger menu, the ‘Burgeramt’, is another amusing play on words for Germans’ love of bureaucracy and burgers.

‘Das Chillum’, which roughly translates as the ‘chill lounge’, is where the shisha-bar can be found, with countless numbers of cocktails and great music. Having been to Pushkin at various times of day for food and drink, I look forward to trying their evening set up.

Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 74,
04275 Leipzig
 +49 341 3910105 

Photo by Bethan Donaghey

Le Sésame

Hoping to show off the charms of Canal Saint Martin to my mum, whose “beloved Paris” really only includes the Haussman boulevards and cobbled streets of the centre, I wanted to take her to a lunch spot right on the banks of the canal.

A quick Google search later, and we were on our way to Le Sésame. It was everything I had hoped for and more. A cheerful little place with coral awning outside and light blue walls inside, it was the perfect refuge from the rain. We certainly felt a lot more cheerful ourselves when we emerged an hour later.

The menu offers a tempting selection of simple but filling dishes. A large portion of these are available as either a small (around €7) or large plate (around €13), meaning the menu is flexible for whatever levels of hunger. I opted for the vegetable curry and rice: a thick orangey number with aubergines and red peppers which was absolutely delicious. A homemade honey and ginger lemonade provided a refreshing accompaniment.

Mum’s flavoursome vegetable soup came with two little slices of crusty fried bread, and her Cobb salad was judged “top notch”. Next time, I plan to dig into one of the thickly packed, seeded bagels that I spotted being delivered to the table next to us.

As well as the individual options, the team au Sésame  create a whole menu out of the set menus themselves. There are two to choose from at breakfast (€7-12); three at lunch (€8-15); some tasting menus; some apéro deals, plus a brunch ‘formule’. This café-restaurant really does cover all bases.

Beyond the trusty food choices, Sésame regularly holds ‘vernissages’ (art previews) as well as more permanent exhibitions. A programme on their website also suggests they occasionally host live bands too.

Another insight provided by the website was that, for a large part, the café is run by a team of girlfriends. A video montage showing them preparing drinks and sandwiches whilst smiling and hugging each other, to the soundtrack of ‘More Than a Woman’ by the Bee Gees, almost had me running out the office of my internship to hand in my CV…

Above all, Le Sésame says ‘fresh’. Opting to ditch the bare light bulbs sported by so many hipster establishments these days, in favour of the colourful décor and star-shaped night lights, it’s obvious these girls aren’t trying to be anything they’re not.


51 Quai de Valmy, 75010 Paris


+33 1 42 49 03 21

Fram Café Bistrot

If we consider the typical Italian diet, it is not surprising that Italian cities in general are not brimming with vegan, veggie or gluten-free cafés at every corner. But Bologna, home to the oldest university in Europe, is constantly adjusting to the varied student population. This means that, whilst many restaurants are hanging on to classic menus (a good thing), the city is also joining in with the global wave of ‘green’ cafés.

Fram is an eco-friendly ‘bistrot’ in the historical centre of Bologna. Described with the catchphrase mangiare bene per voler bene (eat well to love) it offers fresh and healthy food including gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options. Even if you don’t have strict eating requirements, it’s a nice place to go to for a light lunch and a break from the delicious but unavoidable Italian carbs. A series of sweet and savoury cakes are displayed on the counter, and the kitchen is also open for hot dishes such as vegetable lasagna, or a platter with a selection of the daily specials.

Recycling is also one of Fram’s distinguishing traits. The collage art on the walls accompanies the ‘old school’ restored furniture, which actually includes vintage classroom chairs, and accompanying desks as tables. A sofa covered with a crochet blanket and a shelf full of cook and travel books invite us to feel at home in what looks like a cozy, personally decorated living room. A long table under big hanging lamps is reserved for working on laptops. Meanwhile, customers enjoy hot meals on the neighbouring round glass tables, which are covered in colourful table cloths. Topped off with 50s music playing in the background, the nostalgic vinatge-y atmosphere is complete.

Although slightly more expensive than other cafés, it provides an unusual setting to enjoy, as an alternative to the classic Italian expresso at the bar.

Via Rialto 22, 40124, Bologna
+39 33343 55545

Le Voltigeur

On a corner in one of the most popular areas of Paris, this place doesn’t really need any more marketing or praising publicity, yet a few words of advice and a couple of complimentary remarks won’t go a miss.

What this place is good for: undeniable atmosphere, its tasty quiches and its perfect outdoor seating for those sunny days or those moments when you could happily sit back and watch the world go by.

Located in the 4th arrondissement just up from the beautiful, grassy Place des Vosges, this corner spot is lucky enough to attract those famished wanderers as they walk through the pedestrianised roads on Sundays. Within listening distance of the striving street acts, merry brass band players and the city’s compelling art scene, Le Voltgieur has positioned itself in the heart of stereotypical Parisian culture.

A few tips: the food is more the ‘light bites’ variety and I would advise coming here before you get to the stage of hunger, because the service isn’t the quickest in the book. However, the waiters and waitresses will run around as quick as they can so you can have that TO DIE FOR hot chocolate (melted chocolate with hot cream and milk, all delivered separately) as soon as possible.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings before 11/ 11.30am you should find a table without a problem, any later, you may be up against the rest of the review-reading world. An early evening drink, or even a post-dinner tipple, Le Voltgieur is not a fine dining restaurant or a classic bistro, yet a perfect stopping spot for any moment in your day. When you need to relax, chat, eat or drink at an average price in an impressionable environment, this is your establishment.

45 Rue des Francs Bourgeois, 75004 Paris


For the ultimate bohemian brunch, this is where you need to be. Replacing that café that no one really new the name of, Brew has made a name for itself simply on the quality of its toasted bread. (Something they do with a honey dressing I am lead to believe….)

They offer a selection of lunch/ brunch options at an affordable price. You can expect to pay around £7.50 for their take on an English breakfast – ‘Brewfast’ or even ‘Vegfast’ for the veggies amongst you. It is an order at the counter kind of place, which makes it that rather bit difficult if you think you’ve made up your mind before you reach the till. While waiting in the fairly speedy queue there is a selection of colourful, homemade salads, sandwiches, wraps and cakes to cause the fickle part of you a bit of a palaver.

Like many similar places, Brew café prides itself on using locally sourced produce. They have used numerous local suppliers and up-cycling methods in their shop design, and above all want their principle is to ‘be independent’.

It’s not a big place and can get quite busy in winter, without the outdoor seating on the decking. However, everything is fresh, made in house and the coffee is v. good. Struggling to find anywhere else in the university area that competes on taste or price, this place will be witnessing more than just one return visit.

45 Whiteladies Road
+44 117 973 2842