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.
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.
Mary's Mountain Cookies traces its origins to the kitchens of Cherokee Park Dude Ranch, where head chef Mary whipped up three square meals a day for hungry guests and packed her popular homemade cookies in their horses' saddlebags. The "mountain-style" treats were sturdy enough to remain in one piece during horseback-riding trips, but soft enough to maintain an irresistibly chewy texture. Guests never failed to request the recipe, coworkers raved over the sweets, and horses raided the freezers for leftovers overnight—all persuading Mary to set out and start selling homemade cookies on her own.
Today, loyal customers enjoy over 100 varieties of quarter-pound mountain cookies, from the classic chocolate chip, to sugar-dusted snickerdoodles and salty-sweet peanut butter. Shoppers with cravings for more substantial treats can stock up on cream-cheese brownies, 12-inch cookie cakes, and frosting-filled cookie sandwiches.
Martini's Bistro offers innovative recipes, an extensive drink menu, and a relaxing respite from steamy home kitchens inside a charming 1890s Victorian house. The menu divides dishes between light fare and hearty meals to effectively quell modest munchies and colossal cravings alike. The Here's Dino assembles beef-shoulder tenderloin medallions alongside baby greens, roasted tomatoes, gorgonzola, and a roasted tomato aioli ($13), and the Nutty Chick crusts a baked chicken breast with macadamia and adorns it with a raspberry coulis ($15). To inaugurate ambrosial meals, the Pompeii prepares scallops identically to the conditions in which streets were left by the eponymous volcano—swathed in bacon and drenched in sweet chili lava ($9). Inventive martinis pair perfectly with the phenomenal flavors, and olive aficionados can order a single spirit or a pitcher of creative concoctions such as the berri fizz (with Absolut berri acai, lemon lime soda, and cranberry), which caters to entire casts of James Bond stunt doubles ($27). An array of wine plus domestic, imported, and microbrewed beer pleases parched palates as well.