Caffeinated and Casual
from Morning to Night
There was a time when cafés catered exclusively to coffee drinkers and early risers. Today the café operates all day, supplying not only locally roasted caffeine fixes but also noshes and drinks to carry you through the evening. Some have an Old World bistro vibe while others are modern and inventive. Either way, these ten casual gathering places are inviting guests to sit down and get their morning buzz, and maybe return for an aperitif.
Davidson, North Carolina
This chic cafe offers a tidy selection of sandwiches and salads, along with draft beer and wine. A blackboard above the open kitchen lists ingredients sourced from local farms and purveyors, with a note encouraging customers to ask about their food. One popular sandwich consists of warm ham and melted brie, topped with the namesake pickled peaches nestled between toasted challah.
Durham, North Carolina
This Latina co-owned cafe is ideal for soaking in the local color while sipping a single-origin coffee. And the beans don’t have far to go from roast to brew: They come from Little Wave Coffee Roasters, Cocoa Cinnamon’s sister company based in Durham’s Lakewood neighborhood.
Asheville, North Carolina
A counterpoint to chef John Fleer’s Asheville flagship Rhubarb, the Rhu is a bakery-cafe and larder of Appalachian goods, from local eggs and milk to cookbooks and handcrafted cutting boards. They’ll also pack up picnics for you to grab and go.
Charleston, South Carolina
This spot serves house-made pastries and coffee in the mornings, sandwiches and salads at mid-day, and Italian apertivo service in the evenings. It would likely be considered a bar in most parts of Europe, but that descriptor didn’t translate stateside, so owners Edward Crouse, Marie Stitt, and barman Lane Becker dubbed Babas an Old World cafe. You can call it whatever you like, but go for pastry chef Amanda Plunkett’s riff on old-fashioned Betty Crocker banana bread (ask for it buttered and toasted with a dusting of fleur de sel), Stitt’s mother’s recipe for pickled shrimp, and one of Becker’s bottled G&Ts.
Columbia, South Carolina
Go ahead, thumb through the boxes of vinyl lining the walls—the shop responsible for bringing pour-over coffee to town doubles as a record store. Order the soothingly spicy honey habanero latte and nod to the beat with the hipsterati of Five Points, the buzzing historic neighborhood this coffee joint calls home.
Having set out to elevate the ventanita, the Santamarina family is used to pushing boundaries and their newest location is no different. Dominated by an enormous, glass storefront, the light filters through floating shelves weighed down with art books, and the mismatched mid-century furniture feels as nostalgic for Old Florida as it does for Cuba. The pastries are sourced from the family-owned El Gran Paris Bakery and they rely on local roaster Tu Café for their beans. While offering the usual line-up of Cuban coffees, they’ve become known for el pecado, espresso layered with condensed milk, steamed evaporated milk, and kissed with foam.
All Day is not your typical Cuban ventanita. Set on a porticoed street in downtown Miami, the large open window gives way to a cavernous, tropical modernist interior filled with tufted olive-green banquettes, pink marble table tops, and a sleek wrap-around coffee bar dominated by a customized La Marzocco Strada machine. Owner Camila Ramos features a revolving roster of coffees and teas from around the world. Beyond espresso, the menu includes single-origin pour-overs, cold brews, and nitro infusions.
Locals are proud of their hometown sustainable coffee roaster Rise Up, which started as a tricked-out trailer in nearby St. Michaels fifteen years ago and has expanded to nine cafes and national distribution. Pair your single-origin pour-over with a scrapple and egg biscuit from MAD EGGS, the cafe’s food truck.
This haven for Francophiles has a counter brimming with fresh pastries and breads, plus a full sit-down brunch. Go for a café au lait and a chocolate almond croissant.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Owners Brad and Amy Ewing specialize in Nordic-style (read: lighter) coffee roasts, which reveal more fruit nuances than their more toasted contemporaries. Find them at their arts district brick and mortar, where you can try a pomegranate-lime-espresso-tonic, or around town wielding cold brew-filled growlers from their 70s-era camper.
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