Cute, brightly lit and run by a local husband-and-wife team, Epicure Café at East Falls answers East Falls residents’ need for a casual, low-key spot to grab a coffee or a bite. Open for breakfast and lunch every day and into the evenings on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturday, Epicure serves up everything from a simple bagel and lox to omelets, salads, chili and paninis. When it comes to burgers, patrons can opt for a traditional sirloin version, a turkey one (topped with spinach, tomatoes and cranberry-horseradish dressing) or the Woodstock burger, a veggie patty created by co-owner Arlene Leschak with mushrooms, barley, oats and sunflower seeds.
Cafe Chismosa blends the vibe of a coffee shop or bistro eatery with Latin-inspired cuisine. In the morning, cooks pair fresh-squeezed juices and tropical fruit smoothies with egg sandwiches that incorporate their homemade salsas. As the sun moves through the sky, they evolve their menu accordingly, introducing fresh ceviches, rich tortas, and cheesy quecas?sometimes called quesadillas?throughout the day.
While the cuisine boasts an entirely Latin array of flavors, the d?cor leans more toward the American ideal of urban chic. The hardwood floors are striped with blonde color striations, and exposed vintage brick pillars and walls frame the space. Decked in corrugated metal, the ordering counters lend an industrial hint to the modern dining room.
Every dish comes with a side of music, as the staffers serve up LPs from their extensive record collection, whose sleeves serve as quirky wallpaper in the bathroom.
On a quiet corner in South Philly, Benna's Café is a neighborhood coffee shop with a sense of humor. Cutout photos of celebrities label the tempting treats for sale at the counter; Christian Bale's half-smile summons patrons to buy cookies and cupcakes, and Nadya "Octomom" Suleman's face appropriately identifies the bananas. While the coffee here is the main attraction, a variety of sweet and savory food options, many delivered daily from local suppliers, complement the brews nicely. Hearty sandwiches, which are available on bagels, rolls or gluten-free bread, include options like mozzarella, tomato and basil; whitefish salad, cream cheese and tomato; and gorgonzola, spiced walnuts, apples and honey. Those patrons lucky enough to snag a seat at the counter or at one of the four small, distressed wood tables can take advantage of free WiFi access, and outdoor seating is available when weather permits.
The secret behind Coffee Beanery's successful growth into more than 100 franchises is easy to spot: their roasting process. The company's master roaster skillfully toasts high-quality Arabica beans to create varied flavor profiles, from the slightly sweet to the dark and complex. These flavors come out when baristas brew the beans and blend them with steamed milk, chocolate shavings, and flavored syrups, creating the house's signature drinks. They specialize in drinks on the sweeter side, such as the rich chocolate ice fudge ripple and espresso frappalattes made with a choice of syrup. Guests looking to fuel up with food as well as caffeine can grab one of the cafe's signature toasted sandwiches or salads, creating meals that are satisfying and easy to eat on the go, unlike a watermelon on a stick.
Taking to heart the idea that three is a magic number, the owners of Mugshots CoffeeHouse dedicate themselves to a triple bottom-line business model that supports people, profit, and the planet. Organic direct trade beans constitute the whole of the steamy coffee and espresso drinks served by the baristas, and locally raised, earth-friendly foodstuffs comprise each hot sandwich found on the menu. Much of the money generated by the brisk bean trade goes toward charities of both local and international origin. When not welcoming community organizations for meetings or fundraisers, the venue shows off its artsy side with film nights, open mics, and staged readings of VCR instructions.
Though it goes through its fair share of alligator meat and "Devil Dust," Beck's Cajun Cafe is not a medieval apothecary. Chefs receive alligator sausage directly from New Orleans, and dry rub the “Devil Dust" seasoning into cuts of meat awaiting the grill. This reverence for Cajun culinary tradition, along with many bowls of gumbo, has earned the stand its reputation as a Creole institution among the regulars of Reading Terminal Market. The squishy brain behind it all is chef Bill Beck, whose kitchen prowess has been documented on television programs, at Manhattan's James Beard House, and inside the homes of local hungry men. His menu layers traditional Louisiana eats with reinvented staples: beignets sell for Wednesday and Sunday breakfast along with egg, sausage, and cheese po’ boys. Lunchtime po’ boy variants feature fried oysters and catfish, and garnered the award for Best Sandwiches in Reading Terminal from Philadelphia magazine in 2011.