My friend Jamila and I have a Saturday morning ritual. We go out for breakfast or brunch. Of course we don’t ALWAYS go out every Saturday (although we wish we can haha) but most Saturdays we do, especially when she’s indulging me in my “hey, I read about this new restaurant/cafe and I think we should try it…” phase. Now that we’re both in our 30s, we’d like to think we’re part of the ‘titas who like to brunch’ crowd haha! But we’re too young right?! So anyway, last week saw us walking in the hot outside to try a new cafe in Thalateen Street, which is thankfully near our places.
Cafe Younes is 70+ years old. Not the cafe here in Riyadh as it’s new but the brand. Cafe Younes was started by Amin Younes Sr. in Beirut in 1935. It’s the oldest surviving coffee roaster in Lebanon. It has branches in Lebanon and now it opened a branch here in Thalateen Street. I found Cafe Younes in Foursquare. I was just intrigued by their seemingly huge pancake so I know from the first time I laid my eyes on that pancake, a visit has been sealed.
The Thalateen branch is a bit small, with only six tables in their family section. It was nearly full when Jamila and I got there so I couldn’t take photos of the place because most of the couches are occupied already. I managed to take this picture of one of their shelves displaying their coffee and tea sets. We got a table in the middle and it already seemed crowded even though it was not really full. There were mostly families and a few ladies having breakfast.
We ordered the following:
I am used to Coconut Shrimps in one of the steak houses in the city that’s why when I first read “Coconut Chicken” I gamely ordered it. I’m willing to try and compare it to the shrimps I know. This doesn’t compare, not even a centimeter. While the outer covering has a nice fried texture to it, the rest is pretty much bland. The chicken is dry. So dry that we were willing to give up on our first sticks but we didn’t want to waste food so we took our time finishing every thing in the plate.
We enjoyed the Brie-Chili Crisps. Again, it’s one of those tried and tested recipe for spicy cheese sticks with a twist because they used brie cheese this time. It was crispy and salty with a lovely spicy kick from the chili. However, I’m not sure if it’s the kind and amount they placed in each roll because the cheese was nearly missing. It just barely coated the inside. We tried to enjoy this because this is the only thing we really liked in our orders for that day.
The Maple Syrup Pancakes came to our table wayyy too late. Actually, most of our orders came too late because there was only one staff working on the family section. The manager pops up once in a while when other customers are already complaining. We didn’t want to add to the burden because the waiter kept on signalling us to give him a minute whenever we try to get his attention and he comes back to our table. However, they seriously need to add some staff.
Back to the pancakes… it’s good but nothing extraordinary. It’s huge, shareable by two people but I wanted to gave my share to my friend too because everything was just doused in maple syrup. I don’t like that; serves me right for ordering it. Haha! The pancake wasn’t as huge as the ones I saw on the pictures in Foursquare too. Maybe because there’s only one cook and he got confused with the right size. Haha!
If you’re not into these appetizers and pancakes, Cafe Younes also serves Omelettes, Bagels, and Sandwiches. Their menu is a bit short so make sure that you’re here for a light breakfast and brunch. Unless you order most of the items in the menu, haha.
As for the drinks, I liked the Tiramisu Iced Coffee because it was a bit creamy and sweet but I didn’t taste the tiramisu flavor. Also, it’s missing the whipped cream and chocolate drizzle that it has in its photo in the menu. Jamila enjoyed her Frozen Mint Lemonade. It was refreshing; a bit too sour for my liking though. I also tried their shaken Peach Iced Tea and it was also really tasty and cold… perfect for the summer heat but it came in a really small glass. I wish it was bottomless!
Cafe Younes is famous for their Lebanese Rakweh, the traditional Middle Eastern coffee. It comes in different blends. I know we ought to have tried it but I wasn’t feeling adventurous that morning so I’ll reserve it on our next visit. They also have French Press and you can pick your blends from the intense sweet Cafe Younes Blend to the fruity and nutty House Blend No. 14. They have a nice selection of teas and interesting ones are Morning Tea, Tokyo Journey, Morocco Garden, White Pavilion, Light Feeling and Secret From Tibet. Just by their names, you’ll be urged to try them!
I’m not sure if it’s just a soft opening phase but I hope that they add waiters and make their service faster. If we were on a hurry that Saturday morning, we would have complained because it took more then 30 minutes for the food to reach our table. I was halfway with my iced coffee already and I was just sipping slowly and in small doses so that by the time the food comes, I still have coffee to down them. Anyway, Cafe Younes is worth a try. Their coffee shop is small but it has a certain rustic charm to it. Must be the history.
Thalateen Street (near Abdel Wahab and Saadeddin)
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia