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 smell of fresh coffee fills the air inside both locations of BlueStar Juice Bar and Coffee Café, where staffers eschew corporate cups to roast their own beans into three artful coffee blends. Blenders also churn fresh fruit and veggies into juices such as the Cobra, which gives apple and carrot a mild gingery bite, or the Fruit Fusion, which combines fresh, seasonal picks.
BlueStar staff strives to create a genial atmosphere. At the café location on 2795 South 2300 East, customers can submit juice blends or sandwich recipes to add to the menu, and canine companions are welcome indoors or on the patio. Alternately, the downtown drive-thru makes for a quick refueling stop for drowsy commuters and cars that run on eco-friendly caffeine.