Cafe Rafina

Cafe Rafina, 45 West St, Reading RG1 1TZ.

Cafe Rafina

Theme restaurants. They’re a bit weird, aren’t they? Rather than catch a diner’s attention because of the quality of the menu, they stick out because of a daft gimmick. Whether it’s a Medieval banquet, a rainforest cafe or bistro called ‘Fred & Rose’s’ that’s decked out as an exact replica of 25 Cromwell Street – they’re often style over substance. But not at the unique dining experience that is Cafe Rafina. Themed to give the full experience of eating in a roadside cafe in the early seventies, this place backs up its clever idea with excellent grub.

Cafe Rafina

What They Sell: ‘Rafina’ is actually Portuguese for ‘sausage, egg, chips and beans’, so you know from the get-go that you’re dealing with a greasy spoon. The fry-ups are called ‘grills’, though. They also sell weirdly cheap burgers, omelettes, sandwiches and a few other things (including something called a ‘salad’). SEE?

Cafe Rafina

In Their Own Bullshit: They have no website or social media presence, so there’s no bullshit. It’s a very clever and edgy marketing tactic.

Cafe Rafina

‘Restaurant’ Decor: It looks like the kind of place that someone scoping out locations for a new ITV drama about the Yorkshire Ripper would cream themselves over. You can imagine a scene filmed inside Cafe Rafina – doubled as a roadside cafe – where Peter Sutcliffe buys a hungry young prostitute a slap-up grill before leading her into the cabin of his lorry and using her bonce for hammer practice.

Cafe Rafina

What We Ordered: A simple toasted fried egg and bacon sandwich. With an orange juice.

What We Received: Exactly what we ordered.

Number of Mistakes to Order: None.

Cafe Rafina

Clientele: A mixture. Not of classes, obviously. This is firmly a working class establishment (for fans of the ‘socio-economic’ grouping system, we’re talking C3, D & E here). Clearly, they’ve misidentified Cafe Rafina as an actual greasy spoon with early seventies decor and not a very clever and ironic eatery. So expect to find women with unruly kids, the elderly, the dentally challenged and the odd dad on bi-weekly kid duties desperately trying to think what else to do to entertain their spawn (we recommend the cinema, then a long lecture about why the child’s mother is a heartless bitch).

Cafe Rafina

Service: We went fairly early on a Saturday morning and it wasn’t packed. Even so, we were pounced on unusually quickly and enthusiastically by the lady serving. We ordered and were served oddly briskly and efficiently. Is this what the early seventies were like? If so, Showaddywaddy, flares and rampant child sex abuse by entertainment figures aside, what a decade to be alive in!

Specials Worth Going ‘Off The Menu’ For? A cup o’ beans, man. With a sausage in n’ all. It’s like a savoury 99…

Cafe Rafina
They did have a spoon but we’d no cause to use it.

Time Taken From Order To Leaving: Four minutes.

Cafe Rafina

Highlights: This astonishing exclusive one person VIP area or ‘table for one’. With stunning views of what appears to be a small electrical cupboard, this seat is not for the claustrophobic or panicky fried egg sandwich eater.

Cafe Rafina

Digestive Impact: Unlike Chicken Base, there were no ill effects or emergency toilet trips required after this quick breakfast stop-off.

A blast from the past, Cafe Rafina – for all our piss taking – is a cracking little place. Humble, ‘down to earth’, modest… There are loads of words to use when you mean ‘a bit shit’. But we reckon it’s worth its weight in bacon. It’s clean, the service is disturbingly quick, the food’s fried and tasty and cheap. Go there, eat a fry-up and don’t forget to tip the waitress you tight-fisted sod.

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16 thoughts on “Cafe Rafina

  1. Martin Wills September 1, 2016 / 7:24 am

    Been going there for over 3 decades their mix grill is a monster meal 🙂

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  2. Jane Robinson September 1, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    Mushroom burger is tasty fancy one now 🍔 And a Coke float to finish 👌

    Like

  3. Dan Shaw from Swansea September 1, 2016 / 5:38 pm

    I remember going to Rafina as a child I’m now 42 and take my Grandaughter. I live in Wales but always go when in Reading. I was there Saturday Mushroom Burger and Chips you cant beat.it. Ask anyone in Reading about Rafina and they will smile and say their food is lush. Cups of tea in Glass Mugs come on who never enjoyed a Tea in a brown glass mug

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  4. sharon walker September 1, 2016 / 6:29 pm

    it could do with a toilet so you can wash your hands menu could do with light snacks beans on toast egg on toast toast and jam

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  5. Mark Shepherd September 1, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    Blast from the past indeed. Mum and dad used to take me in there before going shopping on a Saturday. Never had a bad meal and always very quick. Think the owner or managers name was Andy. Always recognised you and brought your drinks to table before you had ordered them. Must of had a photographic memory. Lol

    Like

  6. Tracey price September 2, 2016 / 5:08 am

    It’s an institution …mum took me on a Saturday ,went with my friends before cinema (before the macdonald days) also took my son as he was growing up…we all loved rafina and hope it will be there for a long time to come …

    Like

  7. Tinaa Jolie September 2, 2016 / 3:21 pm

    I love rafina have been going since I was in my mum tum an my kids have been going since its great for fish an chips on a Friday xxx

    Like

  8. Terrsa September 2, 2016 / 3:29 pm

    Worked there as a Saturday girl, um nearly 30 years ago!! Was great then, very strict but fair boss and great quality food. Chuffed to see it still about and going strong. x

    Like

  9. Joy Moore September 2, 2016 / 5:34 pm

    I moved to Cornwall 20 years ago, and every time I go back I have to go there to make sure it’s not changed, my family have great memories of Andy the owner, long may it stay

    Like

  10. Andy Hanks September 2, 2016 / 8:14 pm

    Can remember it in early 80s . Two owners were spainish. Didn’t write anything down but never got an order wrong. My girlfriend of time used to work there.

    Like

  11. marian storrar September 3, 2016 / 10:08 am

    great place to eat and staff are great we go in every week food always hot not many places in reading can serve hot food i know we have tried plenty staff are
    very hard working

    Like

  12. julie September 3, 2016 / 8:54 pm

    Can’t stand people who take the piss out of rafina good food good service and a lovely owner, been going there for 40 odd years now. So leave them alone um. I now live in bournemouth and when going up to reading still go there alright

    Like

  13. Melissa clayton September 4, 2016 / 5:56 am

    The things u call a eletrical cupboard is the door to the basement i worked there for many years my mum took me there to eat as a kid amd i take my kids there it is lovely food and andy talks to the kids and includes them its so great xx

    Like

  14. Jo Baker September 4, 2016 / 10:11 pm

    This place has been a family stop off for over 30 years …my nan took me as a small child And I’m nearly 40 …every generation. Frequents Rafina …..I even worked there for a while as a teen. The food is great , and kids love a “coke float ” …..Rated top class in my eyes .Why else would it still be so popular …..Keep going Andy , you are a top bloke .

    Like

  15. jean September 5, 2016 / 12:21 pm

    Rafina is a great place to eat. Food good. Service good. Andy the owner is one in a million . He knows everyone by name. My mum worked there back in the 70’s so known Andy for 4 decades. I can remember when there was an upstairs. Love the Rafina.

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  16. C. Bowers September 8, 2016 / 9:09 am

    I was taken here as a child and still enjoy the odd visit when I’m in Reading; even bringing my own children- definitely not unruly. 😉
    It really hasn’t changed at all in the 30years I’ve been coming here. (Yes I’m that old!) The decor is the same, same tables and chairs, same people, layout not altered one bit.
    The staff seat you quickly and take a drinks order- my favourite is always the Coke Float! Although I go love their strawberry milkshake (still a kid st heart!) The food order is taken and memorised- no note pads here! But I’ve never once had the wrong food. It’s always been tasty and a decent amount.
    The staff are friendly and very good with the kids. If you fancy a spot of lunch or breakfast then I would seriously consider Rafina.
    The only pitfall- Just remember to get cash out as there is no card machine.

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