Whether you need a place to unwind with friends, a subtle yet romantic setting for a date, or a quiet space for yourself, a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon is visiting beautiful cafés. Increasingly, space designers and creators are coming to experiment with variegated themes, artwork, books, and likes of the same.
These ten Indian art cafés are offbeat and special in their own offering. If you appreciate art in its different forms, quirky little artefacts that let you travel through time, or intelligent use of space and its elements that breed inspiration for creativity, you must visit these places with your time in the respective cities.
I. Lala’s Art Café
This colourful café was saved from demolition in 2006, and thankfully so! Because what would Leh’s Main Bazaar Road be without this quirky installation? One that housed a monk. Lala’s Café may not fit the aesthetic of an Instagram-worthy café from the outside but the charm lies in its mud-brick walls and rusty interiors. You are welcomed by a nine-feet tall granite statue of Maitreya (a form of Buddha expected to be born in an era where humans will live to an age of 80,000 years) at the entrance. The café occupies two floors, the first floor is a Ladakhi residence, while the second floor serves as a café offering an unparalleled view of Leh Palace. The café exhibits photographs and artwork by both national and international artists. To many, the café is a warm, cosy haven in the stinging winters of Leh-Ladakh.
If you’re looking for inspiration or just a cup of coffee, Lala’s has an abundance of both.
II. You & I Arts Cafe
What’s a better way to get creative other than with an unending supply of tea to complement delectable exotic food? You & I Arts Cafe offers both, and much more. This café takes a hands-on approach to inclusive creativity by placing a whiteboard for visitors to doodle and leave behind a part of themselves at the café. They also have a small space for indulging in doll-making, hand-puppets, and other crafts that one might be interested in. The café also features handicrafts made by local artists that can be purchased as souvenirs.
You & I keeps its doors wide open for young, budding artists who wish to display their work. They also organize seminars and open mics to keep their audience engaged. And the woodsy, rustic interior, has our heart. If you want a bit of added fun, they also have old-school board games placed across the café.
III. Kashi Art Cafe
This homespun cafe is the most loved art space in Kochi. A stunning sculpture of six heads stacked upon one another is the centrepiece. Its walls are adorned with artwork by both novice and experienced artists. The space is dotted with plants and pebbles, giving the interior an unmatched ambience. The place is a peaceful retreat amidst the hustle of the city. Kashi changes the exhibits every few months to satisfy the appetite of its regular guests. You may even run into an artist featured on the walls if you’re lucky.
All you need to do when you visit this place is to sit, observe, maybe read a book as you sip on your coffee. The best part? No one’s going to ask you to leave, you can relax to your heart’s content.
IV. Kunzum Travel Café
If there’s anything better than a cafe that is lined with pictures and stacked with books about travel, it’s finding like-minded people in it. Located in Hauz Khas, Kunzum welcomes travellers from across the country. They sit, converse and share stories about their adventures. The café also hosts open mics, live music, poetry and art workshops.
A notable element of Kunzum Café is its menu that comes without a price tag. You can have your share of their lip-smacking beverages and heartwarming cookies and pay an amount you feel is appropriate for their services.
Keep updated with their programming on their website.
V. QTube Cafe
Quite literally a café, this eccentric ‘shop’ only serves coffee free of cost. Their lack of snacks and food can be justified by the fact that their stacks of books, which cover a wide range of genres, are always at the customer’s disposal. Free internet and board games are an added bonus. This isn’t all, QTube also hosts a variety of open mics for the creative souls in Mumbai. You guessed it - they don’t charge you to attend any of their events. In fact, if you want to perform on their stage, all you need to do is book a slot; no, they won’t charge you for that either.
This quirky café has to be on your bucket list for your next artistic adventure.
VI. Coffee O Kobita Cafe
The interiors of this cafe are divided into two floors - the lower one is inspired by the Kolkata skyline, while the second floor is a tribute to Feluda - if this isn’t a book lover’s paradise then what is? They’ve got walls shelved with books, from the classics to contemporary ones. If you’re a writer, you can pen down your literary masterpieces, and they will hang them up on the walls of the cafe. If you want a quaint little corner to pen down your thoughts or even read a book, Café Coffee O Kobita is the place to go.
You can even leave with souvenirs like vintage kettles and coffee cups that are as cute as the café itself.
Named after the Irish slang for potatoes; Murphies is a great place for artists, working professionals, and friends to hang out in Pune throughout the day. Known for the best jacket-baked potatoes, Murphies famously curates immersive workshops and music experiences across all genres. You will immediately get a grip of the elements that make Murphies what it is on walking inside. Dedicated walls for edgy artwork and notable designs paired with minimal lighting and plants give the place a unique modern identity. The first floor hosts refreshing open mics, poetry readings, live music, and more during the day and high adrenaline electronic music by night. Murphies multitasks surprisingly well between all its concepts, something that’s difficult for venues wanting to offer something to everyone.
You can follow their Instagram handle to keep up with the ongoing events here
VIII. The Gallery Café
Make some space on your phone because you’re going to want to take pictures of everything at The Gallery. From the minute you enter to the moment you exit, this cafe is a visual and sensory treat. Your eyes are driven towards the centrepiece as you enter, a tree that the cafe has been built around. The huge space available to the café has been carefully handled, with carefully curated books, contemporary art and photographs. If you find their furniture novelty-like, it’s because they’re all hand-painted. To attend one of their open mics, live music or poetry, you can visit The Gallery Cafe on a Wednesday.
But what really sets The Gallery apart is that you can buy anything you like, and yes, that absolutely includes the furniture!
IX. The Project Cafe
Built inside a stunning yellow house, this café isn’t one to miss. A café completely designed by artists, it has artwork hanging all over. In fact, everything in the café from the tables to the cutlery has been an artist’s canvas! The owners of this café have been welcoming to all kinds of artists, from traditional and contemporary to doodlers, their works are exhibited and kept on sale.
You can buy not just the artwork exhibited at The Project Café, but also the cutlery and clothes designed by their many artists.
Visit their website for more details
X. Comic Art Cafe
This art café is for a need hidden within each one of us. From DC and Marvel lovers to the iconic characters from Star Wars, Toy Story and everything you could possibly imagine, this Art Café is decked head to toe with your favourites. Mani, the owner, has done the café up himself, with characters painted on the wall, and figurines and frames of superheroes lined up carefully.
And to quench your nostalgia, Mani has a variety of comic novels at your service to read and enjoy as you snack on the superhero-themed menu. There are Hulk sandwiches and Batman pizzas! What else could you possibly need?
Feature image credit: Designboom
If you enjoyed this we suggest you read