Cafe ZI

  • Food  8/10

  • Drink 7/10

  • Atmos 7/10

Cafe ZI  Cafe and Bakery

The Longer Read  We love the fact that if you hover over the Cafe ZI logo on their homepage, the image title reveals that the logo was designed on

Cafe ZI logo

We were on the website to check the name of this cafe. One of us thought that it was Cafe 21. But no, it’s Cafe ZI.

The surroundings aren’t promising. It’s in a passage off one of the ropier bits of the High Street, leading up to Lidl. However, inside ZI Coffee and Bake Shop turns out to be a good. This is a spotlessly-clean-and-tidy cafe. Good coffee, good on typical cafe fare, with some interesting other dishes. And there are some less predictable options for veggies (vegetarian breakfast, veggie eggs benedict and specials). Newspapers and what’s this? No sign of the Daily-bloody-Mail.

Bacon lesson

Despite the veggie choices, we went for a bacon roll (£2.70). That’s a good basic test of a cafe. Look out for a thin, fatty-rinded twisted rasher covered in a white residue.. If you see one, move on quick.  ZI passed that test with flying colours – bacon was great. It was properly trimmed, thick and tasting of, er, bacon.  And none of that white stuff, which is a by-product of cynical production methods. Typically pork is injected with brine and placed in a tumbler (to distribute the water). The end-product is, by that stage, so sloppy that it has to be frozen in order to be sliced. Pork to bacon in two hours. You’re a mug if you accept it.  Excuse the bacon lesson.

So… back to ZI where the bacon is properly cured (there is a butcher next door, after all) and full marks for that.  It comes in a ciabatta roll; good stuff.

Breakfast at ZI

Breakfast at £5.95 was great, I’d say a contender for best breakfast in Cheltenham, although they’d need to do something about  Curious Cafe.*  It’s basically all the classics (bacon, sausage, black pudding etc etc), but done nicely and very good value

Coffee was OK too, medium flat white (£2.00). Not (I thought) top drawer but pretty good.  A chocolate-biscuit-cake (?£2) was similarly OK. The chocolate was slightly too sweet and lacking in cocoa flavour).

I’d refer you back to the prices though, ZI is terrific value and I’ll go back to try out American pancakes (£4), Cuban pork roll (£4). I liked the look of the banana bread too.  Bit of a find if you’re down this end of town, I reckon.

*Critical Cheltenham does not endorse malicious damage of rival cafes.

15 Grosvenor Terrace, Cheltenham, GL52 2SA
Tel: 01242 352096  Web: