Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finding the Home Front (and it's Neighborhood Cafe)

There is nothing more grown, more alluring, more sophisticated, more likely to solicit Carrie Bradshaw moments (and we all want those kind of moments) then having your own apartment. I mean, come 'on! We can't claim to be real Material Gurls while living it up in a 5 x 7 dorm room. How I long to light candles over my bathtub as I lay and soak, without worry of my R.A. writing me up as an insubordinate potential fire starter. In fact, I long to simply lay in my own bathtub without worry of catching decade old athlete's foot on my backside. Amal and I just want our own space. And we want it now.

So, over the last week or so, Amal and I have been aggressively perusing Craigslist for leads on various apartments, flats, and other rentals near (but certainly off) campus. For those of you who have ever filtered through hundreds of housing post, you know how the listing game goes. Every house you come across is "charming". "Spacious". A "great buy". But no listing details the real facts. Do the neighbors with pets fail to 'pooper scoop' on their morning dog walks? Is the landlord cheap and frequently M.I.A.? Are the parking Nazis enforcers extra strict around these parts? And most's the neighborhood cafe?

When it comes to a great cafe spot... I. Do. Not. Play. Seriously, there is nothing I enjoy more than a bangin' soy chai tea latte, my own booth and/or window seat, my MacBook, and cafe food. The reigning favorite for me has been Mocha Hut west of 13th St. on U. They have the most de-li-shi-us turkey bacon, cheddar cheese scrambled eggs, and arugula this side of the Mississippi! (Are we, uh, on a particular side of the Mississippi...?) Like......I've been known to skip class for it, lol. When it comes to food, I have a vicious inner fat child and I've never spent more than $10 total while satisfying my greed at Mocha Hut. Better still, they serve breakfast ALL day and have FREE (and GOOD) poetry nights on Thursdays. Most importantly, however; the employees know my name. They care about my day and why it's been a week since I've dined there. They never hassle me for holding tables they always smile, and it's just a wonderful establishment. I think even if I found an apartment back home in Detroit, I'd still take flights back to DC just to bask in the splendidness that is Mocha Hut. It's just that kind of place.

However...I know that some days, it will rain, the Metro won't run, one of my shoes will break mid-step, and I'll be forced to go to the cafe closest to home. That known, my new neighborhood better house a cafe of equal caliber to my #1. Otherwise, I ain't moving there. If you think I'm playing, ask me why I won't move to Dupont? Not to say that Dupont is a terrible area or that I actually have enough money to choose not to live there, but for the sake of the argument, I was not pleased with Teaism, Cafe Luna, OR Soho Tea & Coffee. I think Teaism is a great idea, and I can't speak for the Penn Quarter or Lafayette Square locations, but no one here was friendly. Not the employees and definitely not the patrons. Those behind the counter acted as if they were utterly repulsed to answer any questions I had about the tea. There was little room to sit, everyone looked at me and my date like we had 3 heads each (was it the 'fro?) and I felt very isolated the entire time there. Needless to say, we quickly drank our tea and left. As for Cafe Luna, the menu claims to serve breakfast all day, but quickly list exceptions on nearly 3/4 of the breakfast menu. When my visiting mother questioned the waiter as to why we couldn't have the Belgium waffles at 4:05pm, he became slightly indignant. Hello!!! For one, this is my mom, and secondly, why they hell can't we have have waffles? The menu does say "all day"...To be good sports, we ate there anyway and left thoroughly unimpressed. I can't even remember what I ate, and I had to look up the name of the spot just to write this article because I had long since forgot it. Cafe Luna is just a regular old establishment that screams "eh". I saved Soho Tea & Coffee last because, well I have no choice but to use a certain word to describe it, and after reading this post over at the blog Free Silver, I fear female castration from anyone who may care to comment. But I must speak truthfully...Soho Tea & Coffee is so...well...pretentious. Don't hurt me, but really, it is. Me and a friend trekked all the way over there in the rain just to see what the hype was about and I almost laughed out loud. I just felt stupid sitting there. Yes I ordered a soy chai tea latte and yes, I brought my trendy white MacBook, but no. No I was not waiting for some sexy stranger to come over and ask to buy me another drink, and no, I wasn't trying to seem deep or brooding, or any of those things. But the place just seemed so....ugh. I (over)payed for my drink and skedaddled back to Mocha Hut.

If you can't tell by now, I am certainly most serious about my cafes and our new apartment will not be close to a lame one. As a college student with papers due every five minutes, I need my joe. And as a closet bohemian with a passion for art, ambiance, and all things sensory I need a good cafe that just flows. Ya know?

P.S. - Big Bear Cafe opened up not too long ago and although I haven't had time to thoroughly check out the place (or read all the related articles on gentrification...apparently some bloggers feel the cafe is a mascot), I did sneak in for that salmon panini of theirs and it was heaven. I plan to be on the prowl very soon...

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