Sunday, December 7, 2014

Joe Coffee, North Hollywood

I feel so lucky to—for the first time in my life—live in a walkable neighborhood. This means waking up, popping downstairs, and going across the street for your morning coffee, or danish, or mimosa. It means not having to deal with parking; and in Los Angeles, that is the truest blessing.

John and I had a lazy morning yesterday, the first in quite awhile. The few days of LA rain had ceased, and we were once again looking at clear December skies with 70°+ weather. Any wonder why I love it here? There are several breakfast places in our North Hollywood neighborhood we still need to try, but top of my list was a new little coffee shop nestled into a tiny space on Lankershim Blvd. The Magnolia-Lankershim corner Starbucks is always jam-packed, and considering the artsy area, I knew there had to be a better option for finding a good latte.

So we walked on over to Joe Coffee, which is a recent addition to the block, taking over the space previously housing Bob's Espresso Bar. The previous staple, from what I hear, has pretty big shoes to fill, so we entered Joe Coffee with plenty of curiosity.

The place wasn't too crowded for 10:30 in the morning, which for me meant there were still plenty of goodies left to choose from in the baked goods display! Joe Coffee officially opened this past November, so word likely still needs to get out that there's a new coffee joint in town.

The baristas were so friendly, and the place gets bonus points for being doggie-friendly! There was a man ordering his drink with his beautiful Boxer in tow when we arrived—the pup was flirting with everybody, being the best customer ever.

The pricing of the drinks is to be expected of a smaller espresso bar, with lattes upwards of $4 and drip coffee in the range of $2-3. But their loose leaf tea selection was great, and they even offer a variety of pressed juices, which is a huge plus.

And that's when I saw them...

Home-made POP TARTS. You guys, I could have died and gone to heaven. Immediately, John asked the barista if the Pop Tarts were any good—her face told us everything: snag one now, because they are worth every bite. They are made fresh daily at Susina Bakery & Cafe in Hollywood and come in a variety of flavors. Yesterday, they were offering blueberry, raspberry, and pumpkin. We opted for raspberry, even though pumpkin would have been more festive. ;)

With the order placed and the pastries popped into the warmer (we also got a chocolate croissant, also from Susina), I took a minute to look around the place. The first thing I noticed was the massive chalkboard wall sporting an impressive "Mad Hatter" themed mural.

I couldn't stop staring at it! It took me a few minutes to even realize it was chalk! After a little bit of digging online, I found that this piece was done by local artist Phill Bourque. Very impressive, and I wonder if this is here to stay, or if it will eventually change? No idea, but I certainly will be checking in to see what other artists they'll bring in to compliment the shop.

Our coffees and pastries didn't arrive quickly, which some people might find annoying. We weren't in a hurry though, and planned on eating in anyways. They weren't slow, by any means; the whole place just felt leisurely and relaxed, including the service. Personally, on a Saturday morning, I prefer that. If you want regimented and speedy service, there's that jam-packed place I mentioned before just down the street. I'd rather the patrons and the servers enjoy banter and chatting without feeling pressure to rush.

Our lovely barista brought our lattes and snacks right to us rather than calling our names or number. Love it. Now, it was time to go to dive in.

The latte was delicious, and it's just so refreshing to have an espresso drink where the barista knows how not to burn it. And the Pop Tart? OMGEE. It was like a cookie and a hand pie had a sweet, decadent baby. The frosting on top wasn't too sweet, but the combination of filling and frosting is perfectly rich. John and I split it, which was the absolute right decision (considering neither of us normally have sweet tooths.) But I might have fallen into a food coma had I eaten the whole thing!

I mean, how could anyone resist this?

The outside tart is thick, crispier on the edges and softer around the filling. Trust me, this is what I call a grown-up pop tart! (though who am I kidding? Pop tarts are clearly for everyone.) ;)

They also offer a larger menu of salads and paninis for the lunch crowd, so that's certainly on my list of things to try. From what I can tell, they have an offering that's sure to appeal to anyone (they even have a selection of vegan baked goods)!

Considering this new shop is so close to our apartment, John and I have already agreed it may need to become a weekly stop. The atmosphere is laid back and comfortable, and I can only hope that it becomes the go-to spot for locals. If you're in the area, consider stopping by and grabbing yourself a cup of Joe and a pop tart—so long as you get there before I do. Oh! And they are offering a scrumptious-sounding seasonal drink menu, so hop in before the holidays are over!

Location: NoHo Arts District, 5251 Lankershim Blvd.

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