Known as one of the best pastry shops in Venice, this became our obligatory morning halt. Though the bar is always crowded with regulars knocking back shots of espresso, nobody waits too long to be served. Pretty blue and white china cups lend old-fashioned charm to the creamy macchiato and cappuccino. Though the jam-filled croissants and doughnuts filled with pastry cream have childlike appeal, we couldn’t resist the buttery pastry spirals rolled with a layer of cinnamon, pistachio or poppy seeds.
Calle de San Pantalon, +39 041 523 7209
Founded by a German family in 1924, Majer started off as a bakery and grew into a high-quality chain selling much more than bread. Popping into our nearest branch before lunchtime one day, we soon found ourselves feasting on a melting spinach and gruyère strudel and aubergine pie, followed by crumbly crusted jam tarts and well-made coffee. A speciality is the Japanese-inspired onighiri, rice balls stuffed with fish.
Dorsoduro 3108/D, and other branches in Venice; + 39 041 528 9014
Il Caffè (Caffè Rosso)
Nicknamed for its red façade, this café in Campo Santa Margherita attracts a youthful crowd of locals and a few intrepid tourists. At breakfast they gather around the gleaming copper espresso machine for caffè and cappuccino, and by lunchtime they have spilled on to the sunny terrace, sipping Spritz (the essential Venetian aperitif) and snacking on freshly made sandwiches. It’s hard to find a more inviting café in Venice.
Sestiere Dorsoduro 2963, Campo Santa Margherita; +39 041 528 7998
A vegan tea room in Venice, land of seafood and coffee? Caffè Orientale pulls this off with aplomb, serving a short menu of Italian and vegetarian classics alongside English-style cakes and teas. With its sky-blue walls, quirky animal portraits and wooden tables, the room attracts those in search of a change of scene. One-pot dishes such as ribollita, pappa al pomodoro and lentil curry get the blood circulating on a winter’s day, but it was the homemade flatbread sprinkled with coarse salt and herbs that proved irresistible.
Santa Croce 888, +39 041 520 1789
Osteria da Filo
Lost and tired of walking in circles, we surrendered to the comfort of the squishy sofas in this former osteria, reborn as a café-bar popular with young Venetians. The Spritz flows like water here (nearly as cheaply too), and you can order delicious vegetarian snacks such as hummus or couscous with pomegranate.
Santa Croce 1539, +39 041 524 6554