As much as I cringe when anyone says, “if you didn’t take a picture, did it really happen?” when it comes to experiencing the incredible design of cafes and restaurants in Singapore, that phrase really does apply. It’s been a while since I faithfully recorded every F&B seedling that popped up in the city’s soil for Time Out. Two years later, upon finding that some of my favourite places had permanently closed, I took to Instagram to ask for recommendations on which cafes were trending. While some staples still stand strong, namely the ones tied to a restaurant group, a few newbies are blossoming on the scene and worth checking out. So here are the six most photogenic cafes in Singapore to visit and snap away, next time you’re around.
I mean, just look at it! The White Rabbit is a restaurant house in a converted church – with stained glass windows and high ceilings, this venue is breathtaking from the inside out. At the back is The Rabbit Hole, a garden adorned with black and white striped deck chairs, lots of greenery and a chic bar specialising in gin. Here you’ll find multiple backdrops for as many looks as you can manage.
Staff here are very accommodating, we arrived at about 4pm when they were closing but they were still happy for us to do our thing.
This small restaurant is minimalist and crisp, while in contrast, their food is colourful and vibrant. Housed next door to Cookhouse, this little sister only really has one Insta-worthy angle but just look at how cute the hanging plants are! Interior inspiration is rife, even if it is bare.
Service was very professional but a little high-brow. Photos were only just about tolerated.
This venue is giving The White Rabbit a run for its money when it comes to stunning interiors. Ornate all-white furniture, elegant tiling and statement light fixtures will make you gape.
It’s part of a larger restaurant group, COMO Dempsey that also takes care of Peranakan star Candlenut (add that to your list if you’re visiting Singapore and want to try some fine local food!). Cookhouse is one of celebrity Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s projects.
If you go in the late afternoon while the staff are setting up for dinner and you ask super nicely, they’re willing to let you have a little wander and take a few photos. I’ve heard it gets very crowded during meal times, so plan wisely.
This tiny cafe in Chijmes is a greenhouse filled with artisanal baristas (you know, the type that don’t play around with flavoured syrups and use really fancy advanced brewing equipment) and people tapping away at their laptops, fiercely protective of their prime sunlit space. It’s hard to find a good table here, I waited around 30 minutes with my iced Americano before a spot by the window opened up.
The staff were totally fine with me sitting on their tables, lying on their floor and ever so slightly shifting their potted plants around. I’m really well behaved, I promise, it was just that one time. The only downside is that the space is limited, there are always people walking by and it’s bustling inside, even on a weekday afternoon. Not a location for the shy and faint-hearted.
Another stunner from the Dempsey Hill location, Chopsuey is a beautiful sprawling space tucked away in a corner of the lifestyle haven. The alfresco dining area is surrounded by banana leaves and palms, giving the impression that you’re at a luxury camp in the jungle. There are subtle hints to its Asian cuisine, like the antique-inspired Chinese round stools at the front and colonial rattan furniture.
Although it’s large, there aren’t as many nooks to shoot in as you’d think. I’d recommend the waiting area by the entrance and the canopied tables outside. As for the staff, they knew we were having a cheeky wander while they were setting up and briefing indoors and they were fine with it. However, even if you’re not avoiding disapproving waiters, you’ve got mosquitos to contend with. Those bitches are everywhere.
This cafe is on the tip of everyone’s tongue when I asked them where to go. Even my boyfriend sent me a screenshot of it when he knew I was on the hunt for some new locations. There are three main areas, street-side, indoors and at the back in their sheltered area. Unlike the other cafes on the list, Merci Marcel is a lot simpler and its aesthetic isn’t as deliberate. Stylish rattan chairs, hanging plants and a statement mirror inside tick the checklist of any Instagrammable cafe on the island.
While it is aesthetically pleasing, the indoor area is flooded with a yellowish light, making it difficult to photograph. There are limited places to shoot in as it’s often packed and the outdoor spots are small. Making up for this are the upbeat, encouraging staff.
Want more cafe recommendations? Check out this video on one of my trips to Hong Kong and Singapore.