Art Cafés in Penang

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The Artisanos of George Town

There is a new generation of artisan cafés popping up all over George Town. Often run by design school graduates, the wonderfully “shabby chic” interiors of these cafés demonstrate the flexibility of the townhouse space with their arty interiors and sun-filled courtyards.The food found in the cafés tends to be Western or fusion-focused, with small portions to keep the prices reasonable. But it’s the edgy ambiance and “Penang Style” eclectic creativity that draws people to these unique cafés, and here are some that are worth taking your time to visit.

Living Walls

Amelie in Armenian Street is perhaps the most famous of the new breed of artisanos. Often used as a backdrop for magazine shoots and films about George Town, its outer appearance varies with the plants that create a living wall on its exterior façade.The inside walls are pretty alive too – with paintings and objets d’art.

Second Hand Rose

The Second Hand Rose Café can be found on the corner of Canon Street and Lebuh Ache (opposite the Acheen Street Mosque), although that name is actually it’s nickname; the actual name is rather hard to detect. The menu isn’t extensive, but the space is wonderful and they also sell antiques and bric-a-brac.

If you seek fresh air, there’s a lovely little street-side garden at the back of the café where you can take your drink and enjoy one of Ernest Zacharevic’s murals.

Shabby Chic

A favourite haunt of the famous German painter Strawalde during his month in George Town, the Chai Diam Ma Café in Queen Street sells clothes and hand-crafted items as well as food and drink.

The entrance is beautiful with stunning paintings and inviting fresh flowers.The courtyard is a great space for hanging out, writing on your iPad, chilling over a latte, or even catching up on some sleep.

Art Café


Talking of Ernest Zacharevic, why not drop in on the little café that he and his partner Gabija run occasionally in the five foot way of their home in Carnavon Street? If they are not in to serve in the café they usually put a sign up saying “Busy Making Art, which was often seen on the run-up to last year’s George Town Festival when Ernest was painting murals all over the city. Keep an eye out for Gaby s red bicycle, as this may mean they’re in.


Source: Penang International December 2012 -January 2013

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