Live trees grow inside Café Solstice, stretching their branches toward the sunlight that streams in through the high ceiling's skylights. The trees aren't the only things that are leafy and fresh, though; so is the spot's menu of vegetarian and vegan cuisine. Kitchen wizards fashion organic produce into dishes such as corn tacos with miso, sunflower seeds, and cheddar cheese beneath greens and cilantro dressing, or veggie burgers made from walnuts, mushrooms, and pumpkins seeds topped with tomato chutney and provolone. Visitors can also snack on fresh-baked goods that range from Kashi krispie bars to double-chocolate butterscotch cookies, and sip organic loose-leaf tea or drip coffee made with locally roasted beans.
Thanks to its friendly baristas, specialty café drinks, and dedicated study room, Coffee Connection has garnered a number of awards in recent years, including City Weekly's distinction for Best Coffee Community in 2011. Patrons can sip beverages such as the Espresso Chip Freeze or the Coconut Rose bubble tea while curled up with a laptop or a textbook, or while connecting with other visitors through an in-house social-networking system.
The potation crafters at Beans & Brews Coffee House whip up hot and cold beverages from perk-proffering coffee beans, relaxing tea leaves, and sweet decaf alternatives. Hot coffee drinks, such as the cappuccino ($3.60 for 12 oz.) or eye-opener brew ($2.80 for 12 oz.) gently jolt the brain awake with mountain-roasted goodness, and the dulcet notes of iced chai ($4.10 for 16 oz.) and B&B frappes ($4.05 for 16 oz.) cool off summer-scorched palates with their sweet, icy taste. Roasters get the most out of each coffee bean with Beans & Brews’ trademark high-altitude roasting, which imparts each batch of grounds with a smooth flavor that, like an angst-riddled teddy bear, maintains a high level of complexity.
In business more than 30 years, La Frontera prepares an authentic menu of Mexican dishes using select ingredients, homespun recipes, and fresh hand-rolled tortillas. Kick off savory adventuring with chips and salsa made from scratch daily ($2–$2.50), or dive in with Frontera nachos, a mishmash of meat, veggies, beans, jalapeños, guacamole, and sour cream ($8.75). The chili platter boasts a lineup of red or green chili, beans, rice, salad, and two tortillas ($7.75), and the renowned chili verde, made fresh every morning, slathers savory cuts throughout the menu.
Whispers cafe's crew brews organic coffee and loose-leaf teas and whips up paninis and pastries. Diners can select hot, iced, or blended drinks from a chalkboard menu, which boasts 21 flavors of loose-leaf tea ($2+). Organic ingredients form the building blocks of dulcet brews—such as Milky Way mocha ($4.50+) and raspberry truffle ($4.50+)—to pacify demanding sweet teeth. Take the facemask off your football helmet to nibble a tuna-melt panini, an adhesion of white tuna and cheddar cheese between crisp slices of focaccia bread ($6), or silence vociferous, curmudgeonly bellies with a vegan sausage casserole packed with vegan cheeses, meat-free sausage, and robust seasonings ($6.50).