Some places are difficult to find, but once you do, you can usually get in with no problem. The Narrow Door Cafe is just the opposite. It’s easy enough to find – it’s directly across the street from one of Tainan’s main attractions – the Confucius Shrine.
The challenge is to get into the narrow passageway from the sidewalk. Where most shops and stores have doors to enter, this place has a gap between two other stores. No doors, nothing to open. Just squeeze between the exterior walls of two stores, built about 15 inches (38 cm) apart.
Once into the opening, you’ll have to skinny your way about 50 feet to the stairs. From there, you’ll climb the graciously wide 24 inch stairway to the second floor. That is, unless you encounter someone coming the other way, in which case someone needs to retreat and start over. You learn to walk fast.
Finally upstairs, it all becomes worth it as you sit in either of two eclectic dining rooms and enjoy snacks and beverages served by a “not-to-be-rushed” but certainly friendly staff.
One room is open-windowed overlooking the temple garden and one is air-conditioned (not very cool the day we were there.) Tea is reasonably priced and specialty drinks are very festive looking and extremely tasty.
Numbered notebooks are sitting on tables throughout the café, filled with guest’s artwork and thoughts-du-jour. They are free for browsing and supposedly college students often return to see what they wrote during high school. This place is frequented by artists and writers – look for their signatures on the bulletin board.
Fun atmosphere but remember, you don’t want to eat too much. You’ve still got to fit through that narrow door to get out.
Narrow Door Coffee Shop
67 Nanmen Road
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Maureen Bardwell and her photojournalist husband Doug love to travel the world in search of those unique, off the beaten track restaurants, bakeries, wineries, and local craft shops. If you’ve got a favorite you’d like to see mentioned here, drop us a line. To get our stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the “Subscribe” button above or follow Doug on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or our blog.