Where do you go to satisfy your cake, coffee or brunch cravings in the North East that could possibly be the region’s best-kept secret?

We asked Northern Echo readers on Facebook what they thought were the best “hidden gem” cafes in the area.

From your recommendations, we have put together a guide highlighting some of the best which appeared to be mostly in County Durham.

Whether you’re in the mood for a banoffee tart, asparagus royale, a full English breakfast or even a soup of the day, there is bound to be something tasty and freshly made waiting for you.

Some of the best ‘hidden gem’ cafes in County Durham


Location: 54 Duke Street, Darlington, DL3 7AJ

Maggies on Duke Street in Darlington was one of the best “hidden gem” cafes suggested by readers.

If you want to try out this local foodie spot, you might be wondering what you can expect to see on the menu.

Just some of the dishes include asparagus royale, made with English asparagus spears, wilted spinach, poached eggs, wild garlic, toasted English muffin and classic hollandaise sauce.

There is also fried chicken cornbread with crispy chicken, smashed hash brown, chipotle hollandaise, fried egg, Swiss cheese and home-made ketchup on home-baked cornbread.

One of the latest new sweet treats to arrive on Maggies' menu is the caramel mud cake – a mix of blondie, cookie and caramel.

Don’t forget to try out the iced coffees and milkshakes in time for summer too.

The Grind

Location: 15 Cheapside, Spennymoor, DL16 6QE

The Grind was also mentioned as a “hidden gem” cafe in the comments on our Facebook post.

On their menu, you can expect to find spicy Tex-Mex eggs Benedict (served on lightly toasted sourdough and topped with smashed avocado, chilli flakes, chorizo sausage, poached eggs, and drizzled with sriracha hollandaise sauce), “Dirty Grind Burgers” and various stacks of fluffy pancakes to name a few.

If you fancy treating yourself to a cocktail during lunch, why not try their latest additions -Limoncello Spritz and Watermelon Spritz.

This cafe also hosts monthly events, such as bank holiday bonanzas, quiz nights and themed bottomless brunches.

Cafe Sapore

Location: 4, Harper Parade, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 5EQ

Another foodie spot that some locals think is a “hidden gem” is Cafe Sapore.

On its website, it says service is “presented in stylish and relaxed surroundings, making Cafe Sapore the perfect venue for coffee, breakfast, lunch and dinner”.

The cafe sources all of its ingredients from “quality local suppliers” such as QFS, Country Valley, Hodgsons Fish and coffee from Roseberry Coffee Co.

If you’re stopping for brunch here, you might want to check out the full English breakast or brioche buns filled with sausages, bacon or egg.

Or if you prefer to head out a little later for lunch at Cafe Sapore, the current menu has a variety of toasties and sandwiches.

MJ’s Cake Cafe

Location: 15 Station Terrace, Middleton St George, Darlington, DL2 1JL

Not only was MJ’s Cake Cafe praised by residents as being one of the top “hidden gems” in the North East but on its Facebook page, it claims to serve “the best of British food”.

The Tees Valley website says you can expect to find “mouthwatering cakes, croissants, tarts and a variety of sweet treats” when visiting.

Just some of the recent menu additions for anyone with a sweet tooth baked at MJ’s Cake Cafe include banoffee tarts, Victoria sponge cake and lemon and blueberry cupcakes.

As well as other savoury options, they have recently been trialling Sunday dinners.

Moments Café

Location: 8a Market Place, Barnard Castle, DL12 8ND

Northern Echo readers gave a shout-out to Moments Café as a “hidden gem” too.

Here you can feast upon “delicious” homemade cakes, breakfast, brunch, lunch and afternoon tea.

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The Moments Café website explains: “We are a family and dog-friendly café in Barnard Castle.  Open every day, from 10am to 4pm.”

It adds: “We offer breakfast, brunch, light lunches and cakes. 

“We specialise in baking delicious hand-baked cakes suitable for all dietary requirements.”

The cafe also uses “ethically sourced ingredients”.