Wander away from Chelmsford's High Street (come out the back of Marks and Spencer and turn left) and you'll find acanteen. An independent cafe/restaurant with chalkboard menus and wooden tables, offering great breakfasts, home-made cakes and lunches from the healthier end of the spectrum. A great place to nurse a hangover, read a newspaper or a book. It does get busy at weekends with young middle class families but pretty quiet most other times. Not the cheapest place in town to eat, but one of the more groovy. It also seems to have a commitment to more ethically/locally sourced food (and Essex has some great food providers)
Favorite Dish: The sausage melt!
Very nice coffee place this Cafe Rouge located in the city centre. I had very nice large coffee here and I did try one of the cakes as well. It is very popular and crowded and you might need to wait a bit in the queue during the weekend, to save time, even that it was January, coming from Finland, I could sit at the table outside :-)
A Brazilian restaurant steakhouse that will leave you full of food and drinks with no space left for the local pub ale.