Listed in Restaurants and Cafés
Travel back in time in this old-style greasy spoon serving dynamite-like espresso alongside traditional British fayre. 'Dodgy' in an endearing sort of way. Average breakfast about £5. Andreas Kuomi, owner & founder, was honoured by a City Council award in 2012. Read all about it here.
250 Cowley Road
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Latest venue reviews
Fantastic coffee. Even my wife who likes everything to be clean and tidy was charmed by the place. A relic from the 50s (hand pumped espresso, ancient till, etc.) but in a good way. It seems utterly dodgy and a place where you'd get robbed on the way out but I left my phone there and an hour later I returned to find it had been safely handed in. Not many places like this left really - that's all I can say. Get there while you still can.
Welshman (Unverified), 27/06/12
Completely brilliant: anyone who lives in Oxford is lucky that a place like this has survived into the 21st century, jostled by corporate monotony and trendified blandness on every side. The reviews below are still accurate, despite being a couple of years old - indeed, a review written in 1975 would probably still do the job. And that is it's brilliance.
Good, strong, bitter coffee. One word of warning, though (or recommendation, if you're in the mood): health food it ain't.
open_to_interest (Unverified), 03/04/12
We had a very bad case of "steak and chips or nothing" tonight, and walked around looking for a suitable solution. We decided to give the Excelsior a try, also based on the previous reviews here below. We have not been sorry. Just the perfect steak and chips, simple, tasty, no frills, wholesome and exactly what you want when you have such a craving. And the onions... mmm...
As for the environment, as described below, but we liked it, we felt at home, and welcome. It felt like going to eat at the house of your aunt and uncle. Comforting and cozy.
Great coffee, strong and perfectly bitter.
We will go back next time we need a steak fix, and probably also to try the breakfast.
(2 steaks, with chips, peas, and onions, and 2 black coffees = 20 pounds in total)
D&M (Unverified), 16/10/09
One of the most enigmatic places you are ever likely to eat in.
Mark (Unverified), 31/12/08
The Excelsior has been operating approximately forever, and it shows. Antiquated fittings, staff, menu, and clientele. Luckily good solid food never goes out of fashion and the Excelsior provides this in abundance. Tea, toast and a full English breakfast (the vegetarian version is also highly palatable) will help with any hangover. The menu does extend beyond breakfasts but I've never had the courage. A local favourite and very cheap too.
exocoetidus (DI User), 28/02/07
Excelsior is indeed 'dodgy' but in a good way. In the proud tradition of English breakfast cafés it is slightly grimy. The food is adequate and well priced, with good coffee from a vintage hand-pull espresso machine. The service is good, with the waiter looking as if he has been exhumed recently and two venerable brothers manning the coffee machine and kitchen respectively. All 3 of them are friendly and efficient. I love the way that, when you order the full breakfast, you usually get a few bonus chips on your plate too.
This café is frequented by a regular clientèle of local people with mental health problems but, despite the inner turmoil of many customers, has a serene atmosphere. Perhaps if you have inflicted some mental problems upon yourself overnight it may be a bit much, but for most people it's a very pleasant place for the 'morning after' breakfast. Smoking appears to be de rigeur here but, if you're the sort of person who objects to that, you probably won't be wanting a greasy fryup anyway. Just get yourself a paper, craft yourself a rollup, and drink in the atmosphere as you return yourself to full health.
bonus chip (Unverified), 27/09/06
I had a great breakfast here for £4! 2 eggs, 2 bacon, 2 sausages, beans, tomatoes, 2 slices of toast and some chips thrown in for free! It's an old style cafe a bit like the one in the covered market. The staff were friendly and polite and the service was quick and efficient. If you just want a good, well-cooked, cheap, filling meal this is the place to go!
bacon lover (DI User), 17/06/06
To be recommended to anyone wishing for an ample fry-up after a hard night's work. As to the dodginess, I left my wallet on the table and left. When I returned 10 minutes later, it had been safely stashed away behind the pre-WW2 cash register and returned immediately. You're more likely to be robbed on Walton St or in Summertown by exorbitant prices.
JZ (Unverified), 02/04/06
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