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Ten cafés in Frankfurt where you could spend hours reading a good book

By Silvia Artaza from Gastronomistas

That Frankfurt is a place of contrasts is something you take in at first sight when you land at this German city. A skyline that rises over buildings from another era; a busy Turkish restaurant full of suited executives at lunchtime; a Japanese pâtisserie where you can just as well buy macarons as sit at its sushi bar.

We got away to Frankfurt for three days to find out what the city has to offer apart from the famous sausages it gives its name to. And we found out.

We used NH City as our headquarters. It's a very well located hotel, a stone's throw from Konstablerwache Square, where the pedestrian shopping area (Zeil) begins. There is a train station of the same name right there, with a direct line to the airport, which is an advantage worth considering when planning your trip. And if you like markets, the square has an interesting market of regional products at the weekend, with heaps of things to try from small-scale producers.

At Christmas, as in many German cities, street markets take centre stage, making this is a great time to visit Frankfurt. But undoubtedly the event in the city with the greatest international impact is the Book Fair. Held in October, it is the largest and most important book fair in the world, a showcase for publishers that attracts over 250,000 visitors each year.

It wasn't October, but we found a good book and headed off to look for those ten cafés where you could spend hours reading.

1- Iimori Pâtisserie & Restaurant. Macarons and Sushi Bar.

Very close to the cathedral, in the heart of Frankfurt, two discreet Japanese women welcome us to this original pâtisserie. A charming café to settle into and enjoy any of the sweet snacks from behind the glass counter: macarons, pastries, fine cakes, including green tea cake, fresh fruit tarts, etc. If you like tea, it's a place not to miss. And the same goes if you like Japanese food. Because upstairs you'll be surprised to find a sushi bar with a great choice of dishes both for lunch and dinner, as well as to take away.

There is a daily buffet breakfast with pastries, croissants, bread, fresh fruit with yoghurt, jams, chocolate cream, sausages and cheeses. And on Saturdays and Sundays there's brunch, where Iimori's sweet side is combined with a great selection of sushi and other Japanese specialities. (Braubachstraße 24)

2-Bitter & Zart. The pleasure of chocolate.

Without leaving this street, we switched from tea and pastries to chocolate in all its varieties. Bitter & Zart began as a shop offering fine chocolate. Tablets, pralines, chocolates, truffles, cocoa... of all the imaginable intensities and flavours (toasted almonds, Ceylon cinnamon, caramel, etc.).

But in 2012 an adjoining room, which they call the "living room", was opened. A cozy and inviting place to enjoy a coffee, tea, chocolate drink or juice, with something sweet or savoury from the counter display. If you come here you have to try the Bitter & Zart chocolate cake. (Braubachstraße 14)

 3-Frankfurter Kunstverein café/bar.

Located in the heart of Frankfurt near Römer square, Frankfurter Kunstverein is an art centre that pioneers in the production and exhibition of young and experimental artists. Its café/bar is, as you'd expect, a meeting place for creative minds, where artists and advertising people are to be seen with their laptops while having a cup of coffee.

The fresh homemade food is based on seasonal regional produce. They bake their own bread and the fruit juices are freshly squeezed. It's a great choice if you're looking for a place to have breakfast or enjoy a cocktail in a good atmosphere. (Steinernes Haus am Römerberg. Markt 44).

 4-Café Metropol. A must-do.

Also right by the cathedral, Café Metropol is one of the most common places to get together in the city. A good atmosphere and good prices. At its large wooden tables you can have coffee, one of the best homemade pies in Frankfurt, sandwiches, pasta and salads.

It is very bright and you can spend hours gazing through its large window onto a garden, which, coupled with its simplicity, makes it one of the nicest places we found to enjoy a good read. That said, you should know that for dinner (with its international menu) and breakfast at the weekend it's chock-a-block, so it's best to book. (Weckmarkt 13-15)

5-Breakfasts at Café Karin

Another place that is often full is Café Karin, which is a great place for breakfast. The variety is incredible. The breakfast menu uses the names of Frankfurt's various districts, with choices ranging from a classic croissant with butter and jam to a heaped plate of cheeses, meats, sweets... And of course, there are also fresh juices, coffee and muesli, plus the possibility of customising your breakfast with lots of extras. We could call it breakfast, or better still, brunch, because it's available until the evening. (Grosser Hirschgraben 28)

6-Café Albatros. An afterwork place with atmosphere

People had told us about Bockenheim, a neighbourhood we reached passing through a more residential area. Less lively than the centre, but with interesting places like this, Café Albatros, full of young people having a quiet beer after work.

Like Café Metropol, it closes after midnight during the week, so the atmosphere is lively at dinner time. And, of course, there is the Sunday brunch, with some 50 different hot and cold, sweet and savoury dishes. The menu is international, ranging from Italian pasta dishes and salads to tasty Samosas with yoghurt and mint sauce. (Kiesstrasse 27)

7-Roseli. An early evening café

A bit hidden away. This café is located in an alley in an area halfway between the shopping district (Zeil) and the main square (Römer). We liked it because it's small, intimate and very pleasant. And because it has a charming terrace away from the traffic for days with good weather.

Organic teas, coffees and irresistible cakes. But there are also savoury dishes like quiche, focaccia, panini and salads. Nearby Roseli there are other urbane alternatives worth dropping in at, like Brot und seine Freunde (a home bakery with coffees, sandwiches and sweets) and Souper! (with loads of great soups to eat in or take away). (Weißadlergasse 9)

8-History at the tables of Café Liebfrauenberg

Part of Frankfurt's history is definitely to be found here, in this café. Established over 120 years ago, it was and remains a place for social gatherings in the city centre. With its air of nostalgia and of being from another time, it is a must on a list like this, taking in this German city's cafés.

Coffees, teas, drinking chocolate and a variety of sweets to drive you mad. Pancakes, crepes and waffles, and also homemade cakes made with seasonal fruit. Don't miss the walnut cake. (Liebfrauenberg 24)

9-Cocktails and more at Moloko +

Neither Anthony Burgess's book nor Kubrick's film adaptation of it reveal its recipe, but we remember the Moloko Plus as the cocktail drunk by the characters in A Clockwork Orange. Its namesake in Frankfurt also began as a cocktail bar, but has now evolved into a non-stop concept where you can have everything from breakfast in the morning to a mojito at night. The interior design is excuse enough in itself to drop by. (Kurt-Schumacher-Straße 1)

10-Café Süden. Drop in to try its sweets and teas

We love to get off the tourist trail and so one afternoon we ended up in the Bornheim district. We were told that this is an area where locals hang out, which makes us like it even more. With places like this little café. Just four little tables and a bar at the back full of cakes. Really lovely, a place to enjoy a good tea in a candlelit atmosphere. To our surprise, it's the little brother of a Spanish food restaurant in the city! (Berger Strasse 239)

And don't miss…

Operation "Frankfurt beyond the frankfurter" achieved, but we must confess that we also tried a few of them. Which is why, along with all of these recommendations, we encourage you to not miss ...

A visit to a traditional cider (Apfelwein) bar, like Apfelwein Wagner in the Sachsenhausen district, with apple/cider wine, breaded cutlets (Schnitzel) with green sauce(Grünen Soße), which they make with “seven herbs” (borage, chervil, watercress, parsley, burnet, chives and sorrel), or a typical cream cheese with paprika served as a spread starter (Spundekas). (Schweizer Straße 71)

And you should also stroll around the daily market at Kleinmarkthalle, where you can stop off at the Schreiber stall to try some of its sausages. At mid morning there is usually a long queue of locals waiting their turn, but if you want a real frankfurt in Frankfurt, this is the place. (Hasengasse 5)

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