Monday, February 8, 2010

Cruisin' Cafes: Grand Rapids, MI

Kitty cats, the name Grand Rapids alone harbors promise for a locale best known for its slightly unglamorous nickname of the “Furniture City.” It is awash with a glittering ambiance synonymous with that of a recently uncorked bottle of champagne fizzing with excitement, luster, and new endeavors; a title which seemingly allows the individual in question to drift dramatically into its boundaries to uncover the unrecognized fashion-forward finesse proffered via its sophisticated downtown cityscape which lights up like Times Square come nightfall; or the overwhelming charm of quaint Victorian homes in Heritage Hill, and historical venues brimming with natty noir and visions of fedora-wearing detectives such as the Wealthy Street Theatre.

Given the vast array of personalities found within this one minute setting, an area which doubles as the home of the main character in The Polar Express, in addition to Chris Van Allsburg, the book’s author, it should come as no surprise that cute cafes are plentiful; and absolute essential stop-offs for the individual seeking a clandestine tête-à-tête with a cute boy while awaiting her morning mocha!

The Sparrows Coffee Tea and Newsstand Dolls, despite the fact that The Sparrows Coffee Tea and Newsstand is literally located smack dab in the middle of a diminutive residential neighborhood, making it a slightly off-the-beaten-path sort of location for someone who doesn’t live mere footsteps from the salmon-hued structure adorned with forest green awnings typically seen decorating swank restaurants in Beverly Hills; the aura which virtually bursts out at you simply from standing in the doorway is enough to lure you away from your typical coffee house haunt for an experience that you will never want to end.

Aesthetically, when gazed upon from the outside, you can’t help but think of the gingerbread house trimmed in confectionary from the tale Hansel and Gretel. Yet once inside, you are not welcomed by an oversized oven or a nasty witch, as the infamous brother / sister duo were; rather, you are waved into a room trimmed in rustic wood paneling. Along the right wall sit an abundance of hard-to-find newspapers, magazines, and books ripe for the visitor’s choosing; while jars of loose leaf teas and locally-made jewelry line the long countertops. Sink into one of the colossal chairs sitting by the front window with a chai latte and spend a gloomy afternoon quietly watching the rainfall. 1035 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506.

76 Coffee Only four words have the power to accurately sum up 76 Coffee; and those four words, my loves, are One. Of. A. Kind. Like a diamond in the rough, 76 Coffee gleams in all of its caffeine-encumbered glory, creating a priceless scene which swallows you whole, and lingers around you long after you have vacated the premises, lodging itself in your thoughts until you finally breakdown and return to the scene of the crime.

Unlike some shops that suck you in and spit you out the moment you have swallowed the last drops of your demitasse; the vibe of 76 Coffee is synonymous with that of an extended family. Regulars stop by your table for brief chats; the baristas are ready, willing, and able to whip up any type of drink you can possibly imagine; a “free” bookshelf offers a large collection of reading material to patrons; an eclectic mix of kitschy yet creative graffiti mars the walls; and a non-stop barrage of amazing music creates a melodic white noise which literally lulls you into a daydream.

Yes, the atmosphere is smoky, but that’s just one of the characteristics which add to the enchantment; plus, the clever titles given to each drink more than make up for it. Try “That Thing That Guy Gets,” the Carmello (like the candy bar!), or “The Horse You Rode in On.” Your tastebuds will thank you! 1507 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506.

Which of these Grand Rapids cafes would you like to cruise?

Fashionably yours!

Thanks to Tumblr for the pictures.

Don't forget to enter the Love Is in the Air Giveaway for your chance to win the 90 Words Per Minute Dress from Shabby Apple.

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