The Diner. 105 Gloucester Road. London

A very busy addition to the glut of dude-food eateries in London, this Kensington diner does a great range of burgers and ‘hard milkshakes’. The ‘ill pig’ (pulled pork on a beef patty in a toasted brioche) was great value at £5, whilst other burgers are closer to £8 but include fries. The Breakfast Burrito was somewhat dull, though the accompanying pinto beans were perfect. Service was horribly slow on a busy Sunday afternoon but remained friendly, and the atmosphere, avoiding kitsch trimmings and Ed’s Diner-style Americana, stays on the buzzy side.

$
Tube: Gloucester Road

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Dédalo. Paseo Saenz Peña 295 Barranco. Lima

Inside the beautiful colonial building of the Dédalo Arte shop is a spacious courtyard that feels like another world: garden sculptures and plants are sold here, along with some excellent coffee, cakes and pastries. The café con leche is as good as the cappuccino, and we had a fresh little carrot cupcake with cream-cheese icing. Unmissable, and only a hundred metres or so from the Barranco coastline.

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Café MATE. Avenida Pedro de Osma 409, Barranco, Lima

One of the best carrot cakes I’ve ever had and a very smooth cappuccino in the courtyard of the Asociacion Mario Testino photography gallery was a good choice for a cool, lazy Sunday. The gallery itself is a shallow exercise in celebrity snaps and loud colours, and even though the good at the cafe is a little overpriced, service is very friendly and quality is extremely high.

$$$

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Manjares Dulces Peruanos. Av. Aviación 3364. San Borja. Lima

A craving for a rich, frothy cappuccino led me to this dulceria in San Borja, in the thicket of Chifa (Peruvian-style Chinese food) restaurants. Nowhere else in Lima is there such an abundance of Asian joints, and this pastry specialist sticks out somewhat.
The cappuccino, at a whopping 9 soles ($3) was well worth it, even if it was sweetened with condensed milk (only acceptable in Vietnamese cà phê sữa Đá) and I was tempted to eat the entire slice of torta de chocolate that I then wisely had boxed and delivered home to Mrs. Delusionaryculinary.
All their cakes and desserts look very good, and they seem to specialise in fresh fruit blends too. Service is very friendly and the cashier is incredibly playful and smiley. The muzak is tolerable and toilet facilities incredibly clean.

$$
Visa accepted.

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La Fundamental. Calle Argumosa, 12. Madrid

Definitely a symbol of the area’s changing fortunes, this restaurant that functions as much as a cafe/bar than regular eatery (like Economico and Achuri on the other side of the street) is slick and polished, professional and generally more upmarket than any others on the street. Their coffee is great, pizzas tasty, and staff are friendly. The bar is wonderful to observe and drinks are served with integrity and flair: your gateway to the gentrification of lower Lavapies.

$-$$
Metro L

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Smooy. Calle Mayor. Alcalá de Henares

FroYo doesn’t usually get a write-up on these pages, but this is such a buzzing local hotspot, five minutes walk from where I work, that I just had to check it out. It’s brand new, and its facade sticks out like a sore thumb on Calle Mayor, one of Alcalá’s historical main streets that boasts Plaza de Cervantes as well as the Casa de Cervantes museum, both on the daytrippers’ sightseeing trail from Madrid. It’s such a breath of fresh air, jostling for attention between the cervecerías and hippy-merch stores, the latter of which have proliferated wildly during the crisis, as the mid-classes shop cheaper under the guise of ethnic drapery and worldly-wise holistic crappery. Smooy is the white n’ pink plastic shopfront pimping its wares amongst all this.
Prices aren’t low: 2.50€ for a small serving with one topping, 3€ for two toppings. But they really do have everything, from turrón to Oreos, mango to fruits of the forest. I counted 28 different sauces, crumbly nuts, biscuits, fruits and syrups. The FroYo itself is refreshing yet not overly watery, creamy though not overly dairy. After much deliberation, I chose an almond treacle topping which must have raised the calorie-count somewhat. A brave new place in a Spanish heritage town.

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