I don’t really want to tell anyone about Bodega 50 outside of friends, but the folks there are so damn great, it’s a shame the place isn’t recognised more often for being as excellent as it is.
As far as I know, it doesn’t have a website, nor is it on Twitter or Facebook. It exists, as neighbourhood secrets tend to do, on a primarily residential street across a pub, nestled in the bosom of Stoke Newington. For the longest time, it didn’t even have the café name anywhere on the outside. It’s only been within a couple weeks when “Bodega 50″ was painted on an outside wall.
It possibly is a place that doesn’t really want to be found, but it’s all the more rewarding when you do discover it, either on a morning stroll along Allen Road, as I found it, or when a friend tips you off.
Or, when some shmuck like me blogs about it, potentially spoiling a secret that in-the-know Stoke Newingtonites (Stokers? Stokeyites?) have been keeping shtun about for at least a couple years.
What makes this place so great? Well, we’ll start with two words: filter coffee.
Not many places offer filter coffee in Stoke Newington, but it’s great when they do. Bodega 50 also sources damn good coffee as well, with beans from Climpson and Sons, Monmouth Coffee and Coleman Coffee. Various espresso coffees are available as well, as is soy milk, for those of us who are lactose intolerant. There’s a fine array of teas, particularly featuring the Yogi and Clipper brands. Both the coffees and teas are available to take back home, making this a nice local place to pick up locally-roasted beans if you want to take your caffeine fix at home.
In addition to serving ace coffee, Bodega 50 is also great for breakfast and toasties, with avocado on toast being a clear winner, along with the avocado and sundried tomato toastie, pictured below.
They also do a tidy collection of cakes and pastries, veggie sausage rolls, and some cupcakes and muffins from time to time. This is also a great place to pick up bread to take home. I often go for a quarter loaf of sourdough bread (the loaves are huge), but they also have rye bread, too.
What’s more, all the food items in the café are vegan except for the croissants and pastries that they pick up elsewhere. Interestingly, this isn’t something that Bodega 50 crows about–you don’t see any signs advertising that the menu is vegetarian or vegan. It just happens to be, and the menu doesn’t seem to limit the amount of customers who order food and coffee on a Sunday morning or afternoon. Many of the customers are local folks who live in the neighbourhood, familiar with the owner and the staff and, of course, with Bruce.
Bruce is possibly the most laid-back café dog in all of London. In the words of Jason, his owner, “He is a dog that thinks he’s a cat.” And this is generally true, as he can be frequently found napping or laying down in the café if Jason is there, quite catlike in his calico-esque colouring and general attitude.
When he isn’t sleeping, Bruce is a very friendly and amicable dog who doesn’t get overexcited, but does appreciate affection. Every now and then, though, he will remind you that he is a dog, and go into a bit of a bark frenzy, but this is comparatively rare. These moments are only to reenforce that he’s in charge of the situation, whatever that situation is.
So with fine coffee, tasty toasties, vegan cakes and The Bruce, what more could you want from a café? Yes, it’s got free wifi as well. And, because it’s Stoke Newington, there are plenty of snacks and organic juices to purchase for your little whippersnappers, along with some mezze items such as olives and dolmades you can take to nearby Butterfield Green, or onwards towards Clissold Park. There’s also juices available, for those of you who prefer your vegetables and fruits in liquid form.
Oh, and it’s got Scandinavian furniture you can buy in its basement, as you do when you’re a café in the boundaries of Hackney. It’s possible Bruce may be having a nap on a chair down there, though.
Also, Bodega 50 is in its early stages of opening up in the evenings on Fridays and Saturdays, offering up local beer to its later patrons. Although it may not be as lively as The Shakespeare pub across the street, it might be a nice spot for a quiet, cosy drink with friends over a bottle of Kernel Table Beer. I haven’t yet experienced “Bodega café bar,” but it’s something that will surely happen soon.
50 Allen Road
020 7683 3869