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.
Eileen's Colossal Cookies sates the hungry taste buds of dessert-deprived patrons with an extensive cookie collection. Avoid the embarrassment of an empty cookie jar by stuffing it with 3-inch baked disks ($4.35 per dozen) available in 16 flavors, including chocolate chip, peanut butter, snickerdoodle, oatmeal raisin, and chocolate-chocolate-chip walnut, which is designed to satisfy double-strength cocoa cravings.
One of the original pioneers of the yogurt industry, Golden Spoon has been whirling yogurt since the early 1980s. With six small servings of frozen yogurt to redeem, sweet-teethed customers can enjoy a several of the rotating flavors, including tastes such as just chocolate, peanut butter, café latte, butterscotch, and boysenberry. At 25–29 calories an ounce, health-conscious consumers can enjoy licks without translating each tongueful into the number of jumping jacks or flying-starfish impersonations needed to offset it.
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.
Desserts aren't eaten last at The Chocolate Caf?. Instead, they're given prime status on the menu, which boasts pages filled with chocolate-drizzled pastries, glasses of wine, and steaming cups of hot chocolate. The staff here are experts about all sorts of sweets, from tart apple creme brulee to key lime pie, but, as you might imagine, the kitchen specializes in all things chocolate. They make normal extra-indulgent cheesecake by sandwiching it between a chocolate crust and a layer of chocolate ganache, and take an already rich croissant bread pudding to new heights by adding white chocolate and creme angelase. They even craft their decadent chocolate desserts in gluten-free varieties, and for special occasions, they can make whole desserts that are ready to be served or pelted at birthday party clowns. For those who like a little savory with their sweet, chefs also cook up light cafe fare such brie and fruit plates and crispy grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup.