After tasting Italian espresso as a teenager, the owner of this European café devoted his life to perfecting its flavors on his own. Years of trial-and-error have served him well, as you won’t find an ounce of over-roasted Americanized coffee here. Instead, he specializes in espresso and French-pressed coffee from directly traded and drum-roasted beans.
Le Peep's focus on breakfast and lunch stems from a decision made more than 40 years ago, when Buddy and Rhoda Waldman opened The Village Pantry in Aspen, Colorado, and—not wanting to miss a half day of skiing—would close the kitchen each day before noon. The duo would continue to tinker with their concept, stare at it through a novelty-sized microscope, and change its name before it eventually migrated to Texas. Nowadays, the kitchen staff perpetuates the breakfast-crafting tradition by offering omelets, eggs benedict, skillets, and build-your-own pancake options that use ingredients such as walnuts, bacon, pineapple, and chocolate chips. Traditional dishes are augmented with unique twists, such as the Gooey Buns, english muffins broiled with brown sugar, cinnamon, and almonds and served with a signature side of Mom's Sassy Apples. During midday hours, a variety of salads, burgers, and sandwiches parades out of the kitchen accompanied by smoothies, juices, or Mother Parkers coffee. Le Peep's catering service delivers breakfast and lunch fare to homes, events, or filibustered neighborhood-watch meetings.
In Italy, l’aperitivo is time for socializing with friends over drinks and light snacks. Aperitivos Coffee & Wine Bar supplies this exact respite amid old-country surrounds of dark woods, brick, and stucco walls. Here, baristas add splashes of flavoring, such as sugar-free hazelnut, to Segafredo Coffee, or use it to craft caffeinated favorites like chai lattes. Bartenders, meanwhile, pour reds and white from an extensive list with selections that span everywhere from Argentina to Washington State.
All beverages complement upscale bistro fare, including six-ounce marinated steaks finished with blue cheese butter or flatbread pizzas topped with roasted chicken and a creamy garlic-and-onion sauce. On most weekends, feasts unfold as local musicians grace the Aperitivos stage with soothing tunes.
At Starwood Cafe, 7:00 in the morning might as well be time for dessert. The breakfast menu here doesn't shy away from sweet specialty dishes, including homemade french crepes stuffed with bananas and Nutella or pancakes with Oreo crumbles blended into the batter. But this family-owned restaurant does more than just churn out inventive sweets. The staffers also tip their collective hats to the classics. They serve biscuits with sausage gravy, farm-fresh eggs with grits, and skillets full of hash browns and toppings.
Once the day segues into lunchtime, the cafe composes sandwiches and wraps alongside gourmet salads. Grilled teriyaki-salmon stir-fry speaks to the kitchen's versatility, while tuna melts and deep-fried Atari games show the cooks' passion for nostalgia. And some entrees, such as the chicken-fried steak, are just as delicious in the afternoon as they are at sunrise. Regardless of what you order, almost everything that makes its way from the kitchen to the dining table abides by Starwood's strict philosophy, which prizes freshness and made-from-scratch quality above all else.
Flavors from around the world converge at Oasis Café, from the grilled lamb and beef of Greek gyros to the sweet chili sauce of Thai chicken. Sandwiches and wraps emphasize organic and natural ingredients, and both meat and vegetarian options are well-represented. Coffee splashes tongues in hot, iced, or blended forms, as in the Oasis macchiato, which swirls caramel and vanilla into double espresso. The aromas of freshly baked muffins and percolating soups drift across the long wood counter and over checkered booths, where diners groove to soft jazz melodies so they don’t have to bridge conversational lulls with knock-knock jokes that might offend people who live in tents.
Roots Coffeehouse serves up coffee, teas, and a broad array of espresso-based drinks and complements its potable pleasures with friendly service and a variety of edible options. The shop's menu draws upon three different types of espresso—a single-origin, a blended, and a decaf—to provide savvy sippers with an extra degree of customization to their order. Organic and fair-trade coffee and teas are also available to help keep consciences light and fluffy. Order up a honey vanilla latte ($3.85 for a medium) for a sweet kiss of bee syrup without the danger and mess of personally milking the bees, then pair your vanilla-fueled brainpower with Roots' free WiFi. Frozen drinks such as raspberry mocha or vanilla bean frappes ($4 for a medium) help the overheated mock the impotent sun. A food menu featuring fresh-baked pastries and muffins, as well as a quartet of sandwiches ($7.00), is also available to help customers practice one-handed hunger-avoidance maneuvers.