The purveyors of literary pleasure at Signs of Life enable learning and leisure through an expansive collection of printed-word wares, delectable café snacks, and local art pieces. Dabble in fiction with Fyodor Dostoevsky's classic novel, Crime and Punishment ($5.99), or acclimate yourself with American history by reading David McCullough's 1776, a riveting account of how George Washington led almost 2,000 men into battle to defeat the Duke Blue Devils on a last-second three-pointer by Paul Revere ($14.99, paperback). Ecclesiastically curious guests can peruse one of many theologic selections, such as Augustine for Armchair Theologians by Stephen Cooper ($13.99), while sipping a tasty bean-based beverage at Signs of Life’s convivial café. For even more aesthetic enjoyment, art-magnets can scurry over to Signs of Life’s adjoining art gallery, featuring the work of more than a dozen local and national artists in a charming space.
Z's satisfies caffeine cravings and general rumblings with an abundance of organic drinks and treats at its two locations. Take an aromatic journey through the 12 bulk bins of whole beans roasted on-site each week ($9.99+/lb.), or sidle up to a specialty drink, such as the Rocky Raccoon, a frappé fused with chocolate, hazelnut, and caramel ($4.10 for a big). Non-joe options include a tasty assortment of smoothies (sans high-fructose corn syrup) and tea, in addition to hearty breakfast chomps. Guilt-free sips and sudden urges to commune with nature are all courtesy of Z's Divine Espresso's commitment to sustainable practices, such as recycling used coffee grounds as free fertilizer for local farmers and gardeners.
Featured in Lawrence Journal World, AB’s appeases a multitude of meal proclivities with a menu full of hearty breakfasts, lunchtime sandwiches, and namesake crêpes and coffee. The Florentine crêpe, stuffed with mozzarella and feta cheeses, artichoke hearts, spinach, green olives, and garlic, offers savory sustenance to midday munchers ($7), and the Chocolate Bliss crêpe gift wraps Nutella, ricotta cheese, and bananas for bated sweet teeth ($7). Scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, and chicken join forces under the alter ego Jason to halt hunger and enact vigilante justice on offending jaywalkers ($7.50). Cups of espresso ($1.25), cappuccino ($2.25), and tea ($1.25) enliven afternoon study breaks in AB’s small dining area. Sidle inside or call ahead to order to-go crêpes from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Tuesday–Friday, with slightly longer hours on Saturday and Sunday.
Cafe Beautiful owner and sole chef Melinda Roeder fashions artfully arranged Asian fusion cuisine for diners who like to eat with their eyes just as much as they like to eat with their mouths. “The presentation,” she says in a profile piece by LJWorld.com, “is just as important as how it tastes.” At Cafe Beautiful, each multi-course meal feels more like an extravagant event than an ordinary restaurant visit, stretching over hours as guests take in a parade of plates that may include savory Korean custards or spicy sushi with a Thai pepper sauce.
Cafe Beautiful’s expansive windows unveil picturesque views of the outside hustle and bustle on Massachusetts Street while its intimate dining room warmly embraces guests with its candlelit setting, bursting decorative foliage, and local artwork. In the aforementioned LJWorld.com article, Chef Roeder decries the culture of rushing customers before they can savor their food or fold their napkins into swans, stating, “We eat at such a rapid rate…and sometimes you feel pushed out by restaurants waiting to get another table. That’s not the experience you have here.”
Sip on eye-opening espressos and cool mixed coffees while the crafty chefs grill and toast the flavorful fare listed on a colorful chalkboard menu. A Ramblin' Rose wrap quiets the demands of grumbling daybreak bellies with sausage, egg, pico de gallo, ranch dressing, and cheddar put back to bed inside a cozy garlic-wrap blanket ($3.99). Sauerkraut, swiss, and thousand-island dressing smother either turkey or corned beef served on wheat to sate specific Reuben sandwich hankerings ($5.49). Pair eats with caffeinated cupfuls of mocha lattes ($3.50+) and Americanos ($1.50+), or cool off with blended iced coffees such as the banana and hazelnut or white-chocolate raspberry ($3.50+). An in-house particle accelerator smashes together watermelons, raspberries, strawberries, and yogurt, jarring loose nourishing vitamins and creating delicious juice-stop fruit smoothies. Open a book and relax in a cushioned stool as morning sunlight pours warmly through the coffee house's large windows, charging the body’s solar panels while coffee charges stomach panels.
At The Topeka Juice Garden, newly opened in March of 2013, juicing specialists extract the essences of organic fruits and vegetables using equipment that preserves their healthful enzymes. Patrons can sip on menu concoctions such as the Green Machine, which contains spinach, bananas, almond milk, and dates, or customize their beverage with boosters such as probiotics and chlorophyll. In addition to juices and Blendies, the shop sells raw soups and pies, salads, and housemade ice cream that's crafted from fruit. Certified nutrition counselors conduct lectures onsite and share tips on healthy living.