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Review: Breakfast in Cafe Sofia, Wexford Street, Dublin 2

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Saturday afternoon. Courtesy of my demon friend Simon, I was very hungover. I’d also had around 10,000 miles between me and an Irish breakfast for four months.

I wanted a real greasy spoon operation – no fancy herbed sausages or pestos or relishes on sourdough or the like. No. I wanted the type of breakfast that people eat in “caffs” in Carrigstown or Weatherfield or Albert Square or other real-life places I haven’t visited yet. I wanted the type of breakfast people make themselves at home.

I had low hopes and minimal expectations. The fry-up  is too often bedevilled by those gammy pale rashers with a white layer of scummy water, low-grade barely pork sausages, and manky cold toast. I stumbled upon Cafe Sofia at the corner of Wexford Street, one of those places that’s been on my long list of places to try for some time. They had many variations on the theme of the fry, so I went inside.

A very excellent BBC Radio station – possibly Radio 6 – was playing in the background. I was seated immediately at a window table and served by some friendly and efficient staff.

There’s a few fry-up options, all consisting of combinations of sausage, bacon, pudding, egg, beans, mushrooms, chips, and toast. Prices start at €5 and rise to €8.50.

I went for the “Jumbo Breakfast”: a fried egg (“of course, no problem” to replace with scrambled they said when I asked), two sausages, two bacon, beans, pudding, chips, toast, and tea for €7.50.

This meal was perfect for many reasons. First, the toast was brought out still piping hot. Second, the back bacon was delicious, freshly cooked, and crispy. Third, everything else was delicious. Fourth, when I asked for mustard, the waiter asked whether I wanted English or American, and promptly brought a jar of Coleman’s over. Fifth, the pot of tea was big, as was the breakfast itself.

Click on this photo for a larger image of the menu

Cafe Sofia looks a little bit ordinary from the outside, but it belies a very welcoming and unpretentious cafe inside. Numerous people, clearly regulars, came and went during my long breakfast and were greeted with the warmest of welcomes. I can see why they would come back again and again:

  • The atmosphere is fantastic and friendly.
  • The food is excellent value.
  • The top-notch service is really prompt and friendly – and friendly service is usually a sign of happy, well-treated staff in a well managed restaurant.
  • There’s a decidedly local feel for a city-centre cafe; they’ve created a buzzing neighbourhood eatery.
  • They get the little things – hot toast, good mustard, crispy bacon – just right.
  • And get this: when I finished my breakfast, they brought over two chocolate biscuits on a plate to have with the remaining tea or coffee. The biscuits are cheap but it’s a very generous gesture for a cafe that could easily try and sell you a scone or cake instead. What a simple, simply wonderful touch.

All lunches and dinners in Cafe Sofia are €10 or less, including sirloin steak for €10, fish and chips with peas for €8.50, a warm chicken salad for €8.50, lasagne and chips for €8, and a daily special with tea or coffee for €10. Food on the kid’s menu is all €5. A glass of wine is €5. I will absolutely be back to try the evening meals, hopefully on a regular basis, although sadly they close at 7pm.

Places like Cafe Sofia are what this website is about. I’m adding it to my list of favourite places in Dublin. Hugely, madly recommended.

  • Cafe Sofia’s all-day breakfast menu starts at a fiver for the basics of two fried eggs, two slices of bacon, and two sausages, rising to €8.50 for the works: a fried egg, two sausages, two bacon, mushrooms, pudding, baked beans, chips, tea or coffee. There’s also a vegetarian option of egg, beans, mushrooms, tomato, chips, toast, and tea and coffee for €5.
  • Cafe Sofia, 5 Wexford Street, Dublin 2, 8am-7pm Monday-Saturday. Closed Sundays.

6 Comments

  1. Just moved in across the road so will probably end up in Cafe Sofia a lot after reading this review!

  2. I work nearby and go to Cafe Sofia often with friends for lunch. We are greeted every time with a warm welcome from the manager who remembers details about us and asks after our children and how work is going. All the staff are lovely and we always eat well, leaving full and relaxed. Have often not been charged for tea, or given biscuits and once even free water melon in summer. It’s a favourite place to go for us and I am glad Peter loved it as much as we do. Long live the humble, friendly cafes like this one !

  3. Cafe Sofia is brilliant – just what it says, a caf that serves hot, tasty food. Nothing seems too much trouble for the staff, who are incredibly friendly and on the odd celebration occasion like birthdays the owner (I don’t know his name) comes out and gives you a glass of wine.

    Also worth mentioning, along with handing out after-lunch biscuits, they always offer unprompted to top up my pot of tea with hot water; so many other places would charge for a second pot. It really is the service along with the food that keeps me going back.

  4. I often passed this café and have wanted to try it for ages. I’m inviting my husband for lunch there next week!

  5. Often frequented when I worked nearby and still do when I’m in the area. What always struck me and got my repeat custom was the friendliness of the Bulgarian staff, particularly the owner, and the small gestures like the free couple biscuits with a tea/coffee. Even gives them when it’s a takeaway (possibly if he “remembers” you).

    The food in there is always top quality, I could never get over the low price. Have always brought friends and even the veggie girlfriend in when they’re in town and all have been well looked after. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

  6. Once, while searching for the exact same experience on a hungover Sunday, some friends and I went to O’Shea’s family restaurant in temple bar. Not quite what happened above though. After a while, we assumed that we had stumbled into a burglary, and rather than run for it, the two half wits in there cooked us breakfast so as not to arouse suspicion. Needless to say, we won’t be going back there, but will definitely give cafe Sofia a go next hangover.

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