Travel back in time with these quaint and quirky cafés. Step in and be instantly captivated by nostalgic décor, and trinkets that ooze charm. Café-hopping takes a retro twist because old is gold.

British Hainan

Over at the historic Joo Chiat district is a quaint cafe managed by Mr Frederick Puah and his family. This place is retro at its finest: this museum-restaurant is where you’ll find vintage collections, old furniture and home-style British-Hainanese fusion food like Fish & Chips, Bangers and Mash, IPA Chicken, Oxtail Stew and Lamb Shank.

British Hainan is located at 75 Carpmael Road.

Dong Po Colonial Cafe

This old school cafe in Kampong Glam is undeniably a blast from the past. Housed in a colonial shophouse fitted with vintage ceiling fans, it serves traditional aromatic coffee as well as cream cakes and pastries using recipes dating back to the '50s and '60s. Here, customers savour the taste of yesteryear while being surrounded by toys and knick-knacks from days forgotten. This is our top pick for a place to lounge at in the afternoons.

Dong Po Colonial Café is located at 56 Kandahar Street.

My Awesome Café

What used to be the Chung Hwa Free Clinic near Chinatown is now a retro-looking cafe that’s packed for both day and night meal services. Its past identity as the clinic’s consultation room was likely the reason for its current incarnation — it’s moved away from the clinical look and is now fitted with cosy, old school furnishings such as fire house pipes as bar stools. Come for the cool shophouse vibe, as well as wallet-friendly coffee and beers. 

My Awesome Café is located at 202 Telok Ayer Street.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware

Chye Seng Huat Hardware is one of the most popular cafes in Singapore, and it’s easy to see why: housed in a 1950s hardware store, it oozes serious hipster vibes. Located in the gazetted conservation zone of Jalan Besar, the industrial vibe is noticeable with the presence of metalwork shops. Many modern food establishments have settled in this area, making it an up-and-coming hipster-approved district.

Besides a great selection of coffees and desserts, they also serve “tummy-fillers” like Salami Sandwich ($10), the French Toast with banana and strawberry ($7.50) or Pancake Stack ($10) – all are perfect with your cup of coffee.

Chye Seng Huat Hardware is located at 150 Tyrwhitt Road.

Old Habits

Located in a mature neighbourhood estate, Old Habits is an old school themed cafe adorned with vintage items – all on sale! This cozy boutique cafe contains treasures such as view finders and rare vinyl records. Try the Shepherd’s Pie ($12.50) for a taste of home-cooked nostalgia. 

Old Habits is located at 38 Telok Blangah Rise.

Maybe it’s millennial nostalgia, or maybe it’s a love for our culinary roots that has us harking back to that old-school flavour. Either way, old school doesn’t mean it’ll be drab. So kick back with a cup of coffee and relish a blast from the past at these retro cafes.