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.
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).
Named after the hardworking Hawaiian donkeys that transported juvenile java beans through the mountains, Bad Ass Coffee brews 100% Kona Coffee imported from the Big Island. In a meticulous process, Kona beans are roasted to ensure the rich flavors didn't ditch the flight and opt for the beach. Taste buds board a plane for the Hawaiian shores at the first touch of 100% Kona Coffee, a carefully roasted cup brimming with flavors ($3.50 for 16 oz.). Latte lovers choose from more than 15 signature varieties, such as the Kreme de Kona, a bubbling brew of white and dark chocolate splashed with vanilla ($3.70 for 16 oz.), or the sweet caramel base of the Snickerlicious, a hazelnut-and-chocolate concoction ($3.20 for 12 oz.). Coffee drinkers can chew on specialty sandwiches such as the chicken salad flanked by a side of chips ($4.50) or send their incisors into a huge assortment of danishes and pastries ($1.50–$2.50).
Browse black, green, herbal, mate, medicinal, oolong, organic, rooibos, and white varieties online to get an idea of what the grotto stocks. There are tempting tastes for camellia connoisseurs and rooibos rookies alike, and fresh bakery bites complement the steaming cups. Wake with a bang of organic Gunpowder (green tea with a smoky flavor) or a traditionally spicy Masala Chai. The Clear Mind (a blend of organic, wild-harvested herbs formulated by Leslie Peterson, ND) gives the inside of your noggin a cold shower. Bestselling sips include the walnut green tea, chocolate-mint rooibos, and rooibos peach.