I have found it at last, a coffee shop with a relaxed vibe, good drinks, and hours past sundown a walkable distance from my apartment! If Café 4 were a mile closer, it’d win for local coffee shop options, but Café Rumi is a very acceptable runner-up, plus it stays open an hour later. Super friendly people at the register who love their coffee, exceptional gyros, bucket seats, and a mix of patrons young and old? What’s not to like? Plus, they offer organic, fair-trade coffee that is roasted over oak locally, which makes for a distinctive selling point all on its own. As evident in their décor that includes a traditional tea set on display and lush fabrics draped over the windows and above the large mirror, Café Rumi has Afghani influences.
The rich red-gold of the walls is inviting, and I love the pressed-tin pattern that adorns the bottom half of their walls, in no small part because we used to have the same exact design on our ceiling in North Carolina. Those Middle Eastern touches combined with modern red chairs and square tables make for an appropriate fusion of styles for Northern California.
More so than the décor, however, the warm greeting the barista offered right when I walked in the door impressed me. She talked me into letting her experiment with a Mexican mocha chai on the merits of her excitement alone.
It was great–I always enjoy the spices of chai mixed in with a good mocha base. The iced coffee was just as good.
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4814 N. Highway 55
Hwys. 54 & 55 Crossroads
El Agave is definitely in the Mexican American vein of cooking — think combo meals with the standard rice and beans versus street tacos. They have the appropriate giant margaritas to go with that, and their wait staff was super friendly and welcoming. Roughly six months ago, it opened in the spot previously occupied by O’Brien’s (not sure about that spelling — I’ve never been to one).
The décor is casual, just simple tables and booths though there’s a random ceiling painted with clouds over the bar area. The bar itself seemed to have a few regulars enjoying their evening. They also have a huge porch that needs to get made use of! Seating people out there rather than inside would probably help draw in business.
My husband and I both had margaritas to drink, although my husband opted for a margarita sangria, which blended red wine into the mix. He thought it was rather good. My margarita was tasty, although I’m pretty sure it’s your standard sweet and sour mix, but at least it wasn’t a full margarita mix — that’s usually cloying and plastic tasting and this was not.
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Blue Corn Cafe
716 9th Street, Durham
Mon—Thurs 11:30 am to 9 pm
Fri—Sat 11:30 am to 9:30 pm
For the second meeting of the Social Media Supper Club (an excuse to try-out restaurants with friends from Twitter who also love food) we went to the Blue Corn Cafe. They offer mainly Mexican dishes with some Cuban and Puerto Rican options as well. Going into the meal, most of us had the impression or experience of Blue Corn Cafe being a great find when it opened, which has now become less exciting compared to the other Mexican options in the area. Leaving the meal, we felt about the same. The food is great if you’re just looking to fill up for the evening, but if you’re aiming for a food experience, then it’s not quite up to snuff.
The restaurant is painted in soft green and bright orange with some wood mixed in. It’s divided into three separate spaces. It’s midsized and mostly filled up during the evening meal. Seating was prompt, and the service was patient with our large party. However, service in general was . . . odd. I really don’t know how else to describe it. The server was nice enough, but he seemed unprepared for organizing split checks (which I know isn’t standard elsewhere in the US, but it is standard here), and his demeanor was just strange. There were some appetizers that never came, and the chips and salsa were offered without making it very clear that they weren’t complimentary. Mainly, though, he just wasn’t good at being unobtrusive.
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