Reg's Cafe, in Banbury, opened in Banbury in 2013. The main cafe is located on the Thorpe Way industrial estate. Part of the Grimsbury area of Banbury, it might seem an unpromising place for a cafe, but it is close to the M40 for those who want a pit stop just off the motorway (better than faceless services), and not actually that far from the town centre. In 2020, they also opened a second branch in the town centre, on Church Lane, so you can enjoy their great food and cheerful atmosphere more easily.
The cafe makes great use of the space, fronting a much bigger catering enterprise. It's brightly furnished, with quirky, fun place settings satirising London street signs. The theme is maintained across the walls, with maps, awards, and other fun London-reminiscent bits and pieces. This is in keeping with its place as part of the genre of trucker's stop or greasy spoon, echoed by the taxi advertising them on the forecourt. The same site houses a vehicle hire centre, and I've driven a transit van with their branding on the side as a result!
Food is fabulous. The menu is copious, with a great range of typical cafe meals, focussed around brunches, other hot classics, or more simple standard sandwiches and baked potatoes. A big machine pumps out perfectly passable coffee and there is a good range of other drinks. The toast is satisfyingly thick. Reg himself is often around - it's not just a random name - and the family feel to this business helps make eating there a relaxed and cheerful experience.
They've justifiably won a whole host of awards, local and national, proudly displayed on banners outside in the (ample) car park. These include The Good Food Award, Sluurpy, and Oxfordshire Prestige, among others. Sometimes called a 'secret' gem to Banbury, their fame is spreading, and I'm sure the list of awards will keep growing.
A children's menu means that there's plenty for a whole family to choose from. It's definitely a savoury venue over a full meal one, but there are sweet treats available, including chocolate and cakes.
They pride themselves on fresh food, locally sourced. There are specials on the menu, depending on what is available. Meat is bought from a local butcher, GB Wrighton in Fritwell (Bicester). This means that sausages are succulent and distinctive, and bacon is good quality thick meat, not watery and mass-produced.
Staff are always helpful, ready to have a chat or sort out your specific needs. This might mean talking knowledgeably about food, so they can handle your allergen needs or substituting items to suit individual needs. I've never had a poor experience there. Just make sure to arrive in good time, because with a lunchtime finish of 1pm at weekends (they start early, so it makes sense), you need to be ready for brunch rather than a late lunch.
The COVID-19 lockdown began just after the city centre cafe opened, but the owners have done plenty to keep it going regardless. Takeaways were available, and they made the press for providing hot meals to the local NHS hospital. They have a separate catering company providing everything from packed lunches to barbecues. A small initiative has resulted in a wonderful community resource. There are good toilet facilities (it's easy to cope with a child here), and the cafes, while not large, are well laid-out and comfortable.
Opening hours vary by day and site.
Mon-Fri 7.30am- 2.30pm
Sat 8am - 1pm
Sun 9am - 1pm
Bank holidays - closed