Allen Ginsberg turned from the drive-through to the coffee shop as a place to recite his incendiary verse after sustaining one too many wheel burns from roller-skating bourgeois carhops. Raise your mug to poetry with today's deal: for $6, you get $12 worth of coffee, café grub, and sweets at Urban Standard, located downtown.
Owner Tomek Wrzesien set out to create his own gallery in the renovated office space that now houses Urban Standard, but he soon drew inspiration from the café culture of his native Poland and instead met the neighborhood's need for eclectic deli fare, freshly baked goods, and boutique beverages. Breakfast offers a variety of old-world eats in addition to down-home staples such as creamy grits with sausage and cheese ($3). Share a stylish luncheon of salads, sandwiches, or grilled paninis with fancy-pants ingredients such as truffle oil, balsamic jam, and homemade pimento cheese. Carnivores can sink canines into Tomek's Polish Street Sandwich, a cavalcade of cured meats and cheese on ciabatta (half $5.50, whole $8.75), whereas vegetarians can rustle up a grilled marinated-tofu sandwich ($7.50) with a small roasted-fennel and goat-cheese salad ($4.50). If a whole meal seems too daunting, sophisticated snackers can adjust their pince-nez while sampling from a list of baked goods that would make Marie Antoinette blush.
Urban Standard's all-day beverage list pleases the palates of caffeine connoisseurs with a healthy selection of espresso drinks brewed with Birmingham's home-roasted Primavera beans. With its collection of eclectic antiques and local artwork on exposed-brick walls, the downtown haunt provides a perfect backdrop for analyzing the physics of Weebles over a cup of joe or three.
Urban Standard has received a lot of local and national press, including features in The Boston Globe and Time Out New York, for its role in revitalizing downtown Birmingham. It also was named Best Coffee Shop in 2009 by Fox 6's UPick in connection with CityVoter. Nine Yelpers give it four stars, CityVoters give it five stars, and 89% of more than 150 Urbanspooners recommend it.
2320 2nd Ave. N
Birmingham, Alabama 35203Get Directions