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.
Easily transportable, sandwiches are the ideal lunchtime meal. You get a variety of food groups in every bite without annoying utensil requirements, prep work, or cleanup. Cucina's massive sandwiches, heaping with mounds of fresh-sliced meats and fresh veggies, are nearly too large to hover mouths around. Try the caprese, stacked high with fresh mozzarella, ripe tomato slices, basil, greens, and a drizzle of balsamic on fluffy foccacia, or opt for the warm meatloaf middle on a kaiser roll. All specialty sandwiches are served whole and are priced at $7.59. Deli sandwiches feature more-traditional brown-bag grub dressed with fancy drizzles such as garlic-artichoke aioli and chipotle mayo (half for $3.59, whole for $6.79). Fork fans will appreciate Cucina's inventive specialty salads ($8.49 each), including Thai beef marinated in Asian ginger sauce atop a bed of greens, creamy cheese tortellini with salmon, veggies, and chèvre dressing, and refreshing shrimp salad with fresh vegetables and greens.
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.