You’d be hard-pressed to find a can of vegetables, a bag of sliced bread, or a box of instant cake mix in The Backporch Cafe kitchen. The chefs are wary of the premade foods, bottled sauces, and magic beans found in grocery stores, preferring to whip up all their dishes from scratch. So they bake fresh apple pies, bran raisin muffins, and buttermilk biscuits each morning, along with from-scratch loaves of rye, wheat, and cheddar sourdough bread. As a yawning breakfast crowd begins to wander in, the chefs turn their attention to three-egg omelets, chorizo burritos, and lightly grilled french toast. Come lunchtime, they’ll layer housemade bread with house-smoked chicken, turkey, and ham before plating the sandwiches alongside handfuls of fries and scoops of potato salad.
Complementing all of this homestyle cooking is a beverage list that includes coffee, juice, bloody marys, screwdrivers, and Manmosas—orange juice mixed with Easy Street wheat beer from the nearby Odell Brewing Company. When the weather's nice, diners can lounge beneath magenta umbrellas on the patio.
At Lyric Cinema Café, movie fans can get their fill of independent features, foreign films, and highbrow mainstream flicks in a quaint, intimate setting. Guests early to their selected screen times can relax in the Lyric Cinema's cozy lobby café, where film fanatics can fuel their critiquing tanks with atypical movie theater fare such as hummus, roasted eggplant and artichoke dip, or beer and wine (not included in this Groupon); chill out with board games on the comfy plaid sofa; or discuss the subtle political commentary in Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Once your usher ushers you inside one of two intimate screening chambers, soundtrack your viewing with the gulp and crunch of your complimentary popcorn and drinks while lounging on the theater couches, or nibble discreetly while un-reclining in a traditional high-backed theater seat. Upcoming features include Blue Valentine, the piercing portrayal of a failing marriage (starting February 11), and The Illusionist, an animated picture from the writer and director of The Triplets of Bellville (opening February 18). Click here for a current list of showtimes and to check out the other cool goings-on at Lyric Cinema, including the free morning cartoons.
From the break of dawn to the arrival of the witching hour, the hiss of the espresso machine and the aromas of fresh-brewed coffee and spicy chai tea permeate Alley Cat Coffee House’s expansive space. Manning the counter 24 hours a day, the shop’s friendly baristas never stop topping off cups with ginger tea—made from 5 pounds of fresh ginger—or melting rich Ghirardelli chocolate into mochas, lattes, or carefully positioned open mouths. Morning customers nibble on a healthful breakfast of oatmeal and fruit, and late-night visitors wash down turkey melts and hummus with a thick milkshake.
Alley Cat’s interior is almost as diverse as its menu. A ceiling collage draws eyes upward to the colorful paintings of fish placed mere inches away from a photo of Mel Gibson chit-chatting on the phone. Beneath, sleek leather couches and plush chairs face traditional café seating. A separate room decked in simple earth tones makes an ideal study spot, fortified with wireless Internet, printing stations, and test answers carved into the tables.
Cold Stone's ice cream inhabits a quantum flux between soft-serve and traditional ice cream, with a rich, creamy texture that whispers tales of its super-premium quality as it glides over taste buds. The ice cream generously welcomes dozens of toppings, as traditional as crumbled cookies and chopped nuts or as quirky as granola and black licorice. Choose your favorite ice cream from among dozens of silky flavors, such as Irish cream and butter pecan. Then make certain no one will try and steal a taste by topping it protectively with brownies, gumballs, and cherry pie filling. Whatever Frankencream you create, it'll be scooped cold off the grill into a freshly made waffle cone or bowl. Cold Stone's ice cream and toppings vary between seasons and location, and they also offer sorbet and an array of lighter toppings such as fruit and honey. Ice-cream creations run between $4 and $6, depending on size.