Tucked away in Shambles Market, The Dark Horse Espresso Bar has been a magnet for coffee lovers since Laura and family opened the hatch of the horse box a few years ago. We’ve long been fans of their incredible coffee, delicious toasties and sweet treats (the chocolate-dipped Anzac biscuits are so good), so we were beyond excited when we heard that they were opening a bricks-and-mortar cafe just around the corner from our house. After giving them a few days to settle in, we followed the rich aroma of espresso to their new home on Bishopthorpe Road to check it out for breakfast. Here’s what we made of it.
The welcome – A new premises means a bigger team, but we received the same warm welcome from the staff as we were used to at the Shambles Market horse box. The Dark Horse is proudly family-run and independent, and they have clearly passed their passion onto their staff. No wonder it’s been busy every time we’ve been: locals have embraced their new cafe, and Yorkies are travelling across town to try it out.
The space – The Dark Horse’s Shambles Market home is a classy but pared-down outdoor affair, but with the new cafe, they’ve been able to stretch out and create a warm and cosy atmosphere that will be perfect in all seasons. With low lighting, generously spaced tables and a few thoughtful touches, from fresh flowers to on-brand original wall art, we felt instantly relaxed and at home. There’s a lovely outdoor terrace and plenty of space for buggies too.
The menu – Tired parents needing more than just a caffeine fix can tuck into a range of breakfast and lunch options. It’s a short but sweet menu offering plenty of favourites that pair perfectly with a cup of their smooth and rich Allpress coffee, from boiled eggs to their signature toasted banana bread (our favourite!). Pastries and bread are locally sourced, and all the tastier for it. A word of advice: time your visit wisely. Get there too early, and you might struggle to justify tucking into one of their incredible toasties. Crafted with the same attention to detail as their coffee, the toasties are cheesy, oozy and dangerously addictive. Our kids loved the huge hunks of rocky road and warm croissants with jam (who wouldn’t?).
We thought that Bishy Road didn’t need any more cafes, but like the best thoroughbred, The Dark Horse Espresso Bar has hit the ground running and quickly become a neighbourhood favourite. With delicious coffee, a carefully curated menu and a friendly welcome, it’s a great addition to York’s thriving cafe scene.
The Dark Horse Espresso Bar, 147A Bishopthorpe Road, York YO23 1NZ – Follow them on Facebook