Voted to have the best milkshakes by Birmingham News’ readers, Eclipse Coffee & Books boasts an eclectic selection of hot and cold beverages, as well as a menu that brims with sandwiches and delectable breakfast options. Literary theorists can interpret the poetry of pastries with the pecan pie milkshake ($6), or nurse a cup of chocolate turtle latte ($4.50) as they thumb through a novel from one of Eclipse's three book rooms. A bite from the avocado melt ($5.50) with red onion and provolone will satiate hungry bookworms, while Eclipse's selection of beers and liquor is as ever-changing as Abe Lincoln's facial expressions on Mount Rushmore. In addition to its laid-back vibe and stacks of intriguing literature, Eclipse hosts several events each month, including palate-pleasing wine tastings, trivia nights, poetry slams, and soothing musical performances.
Tranquil Touch Therapy schedules professional soothing services to treat clients from top to toe. Opt for the paraffin treatment, and mitten- or stocking-stuffers are dipped in a soft wax designed to retire old skin cells and lock in hydration. The calming treatment can help ease joint pain and increase circulation, leaving appendages smoothed and ready for a shadow-puppet marathon.
When diners aren't sharing pizzas, they can instead feast on their own plate of classic veal parmigiana, shrimp pesto, baked zit, or sandwiches like the Chicken Philly, which are created with freshly baked bread that's made daily. The same goes for pasta sauces on dishes like Fettuccine Alfredo, Meat Ravioli, and eggplant parmigiana. Alfredo's Italian wedding soup—unlike Vegas wedding soup, which is traditionally served in an Elvis impersonator's boot—fills bellies with greens, savory meats, and warm, fuzzy feelings.
Owner Tomek Wrzesien set out to create his own gallery in the renovated office space that now houses Urban Standard, but he soon drew inspiration from the café culture of his native Poland and instead met the neighborhood's need for eclectic deli fare, freshly baked goods, and boutique beverages. Breakfast offers a variety of old-world eats in addition to down-home staples such as creamy grits with sausage and cheese ($3). Share a stylish luncheon of salads, sandwiches, or grilled paninis with fancy-pants ingredients such as truffle oil, balsamic jam, and homemade pimento cheese. Carnivores can sink canines into Tomek's Polish Street Sandwich, a cavalcade of cured meats and cheese on ciabatta (half $5.50, whole $8.75), whereas vegetarians can rustle up a grilled marinated-tofu sandwich ($7.50) with a small roasted-fennel and goat-cheese salad ($4.50). If a whole meal seems too daunting, sophisticated snackers can adjust their pince-nez while sampling from a list of baked goods that would make Marie Antoinette blush.
The comfy java haven boasts painstakingly selected, high-quality coffee that is hand-roasted daily to sate the discerning palates of caffeinated, neighborhood libation enthusiasts. Ask a well-versed staff member for suggestions or peruse the percolating menu at your own leisure, alighting upon such organically laden goodies as the classically frothy cappuccino ($3) or the macchiato ($2.50), a tasty amalgamation of steamed milk and espresso. The mocha ($3.50–$4) envelops your taste buds in all its mahogany loveliness, whereas the chai ($3.50–$4), coffee's exotic half cousin, is steeped in black tea and sweet spices. Request your beverage chilled for sweltering days or when you're smuggling a diminutive ice sculpture in your mouth. Bask in drinkable irony with a 12-ounce take-home container of decaf espresso ($11.99), ideal for sipping on the front porch or imbibing during laidback concentration parties.