Did everyone have a nice Thanksgiving? I hope so. I did, but it was the first time in about 15 years – minus a few times during my college years – that I didn’t go downtown for the Lions game. And of course they had to crush it this year. Wah wah. I’m not a football person, to be honest, but a generous uncle on my mom’s side of the family usually gets a suite for Thanksgiving and takes us all and um, yeah, I love suites. Who doesn’t? We could’ve still went to the game this year; he didn’t get the suite but offered everyone regular tickets. But our little faction – my mom, stepdad, and brother – opted to visit my Gram instead, as she went into assisted living this year and can’t get out, and then to have our own Thanksgiving dinner.
We were definitely glad we saw Gram. Still, it was hard for us to not experience major withdrawals from the usual get-downtown-at-9-a.m.-and-start-eating-and-drinking-immediately extravaganza. So we vowed we will go next year and just visit Gram before and get down there later.
I mention all of this because I believe the feelings of withdrawal are the reason my mom and I ended up downtown the next day, in Greektown. I coaxed by mother down there with the prospect of gambling at the casino. She likes to go from time to time, and while I’m not a gambler, I’m happy to plunk a bit on the machines and watch her if it means a trip downtown! We ate lunch at Pegasus, which I am pretty sure I have eaten at before a billion years ago, so I won’t chronicle that, but we stopped at Astoria Pastry Shop as well. I’ve been to the Royal Oak location, but I’ve been wanting to check this one out, too. It is elegant, with long display cases full of pretty much every type of beautiful baked goods you can think of: hefty cupcakes, vibrantly colored French macarons, pieces of baklava as thick and round as a hockey puck and half-dipped in chocolate (my choice!). Yeah, we both had the remains of delicious pies left over from the night before at our residences, but . . . how could we resist picking up a treat or two?
541 Monroe St.
Detroit, MI 48226
Devil’s Night in the D – what was I doing? Out on hijinks, causing mischief? In the club in my ’80s costume, whooping it up? Nah. I was journaling at Java Hutt, then having a cozy drink and meal with a friend at The Emory. Because that’s where I’m at in my life – cozy over crazy more and more lately. I did throw a Halloween party at my house the weekend before. But I definitely have found that, at 31, my priorities have shifted a bit. It is kind of weird when you look up and realize that going out every weekend has kind of lost its luster – like, when did that happen? When did I become an adult? Anyway, enough with the introspection – though the increase in introspection does seem to correlate with my increased interest in coffee shops.
Real talk: I’d always walked by Java Hutt prior to visiting it and been like, meh. It’s nothing special to look at. And I only went there on this Friday because The Red Hook Coffee Shop/Pinwheel Bakery had already closed. That is a place you want to go for ambiance. But you know what? Java Hutt ended up being quite lovely. The female barista who was working there on the night I went was very friendly, in a way that baristas at more sophisticated or hipster-ish places aren’t always. She and a few customers who were there seemed to know each other as well, suggesting repeat business. And it’s not like it’s a hovel because it doesn’t have reclaimed-wood booths and vintage tchotchkes everywhere, per the in-vogue coffee-shop style. It’s clean and well-lit and cozy, and it has a great tea selection. I had a mutan white tea latte (I am stuck on the tea lattes lately). Plus, according to its site, Java Hutt offers organic, fair-trade coffee! And they have food, too – fresh sandwiches and salads and homemade baked goods.
So don’t discount Java Hutt like I initially did – give it a try!
165 W. 9 Mile Rd.
Ferndale, MI 48220
I’ve always preferred Caribou Coffee over Starbucks. It just feels, I don’t know, the less corporate chain-ish of the two. Its shops are cozier (the fireplaces!) So I was sad when the Caribou in downtown Royal Oak closed a few years ago. It was a nice, spacious location.
BUT, there is another coffee shop in its place now – an independent, locally-owned one – and it’s great! Atomic Coffee. You may have seen its storefront with the cartoonishly large mug on your strolls along Main Street. I’ve been there twice now, once in mid-October and again a month later, during the early evenings on Sundays. I had thought the place would’ve started to clear out during that time period (Sunday dinners? Evening football broadcasts? Anyone?) but that was not the case. It was jammed-packed on both occasions, and only by the grace of God and some really astute scouting was I both times able to pounce on newly evacuated tables. I’ve never seen a coffee shop full of so many young people eager to study at once! Because yeah, the demographic is for the most part young and hip-looking, which is pretty much what you’d expect given the ambiance. Atomic Coffee is all white and sleek and modern – and hey, there’s the old Caribou fireplace with a blaze going over there! But it didn’t feel annoyingly over-pretentious to me. It has a good vibe. It’s a comfortable, homey place to get stuff done, when you don’t feel motivated to get that stuff done at home (because we all know we’ve been there!).
Not gonna lie, I haven’t actually had its coffee yet. I know, sacrilege! But I did visit on Sunday evenings – didn’t want to be rolling around in my bed wide awake until four in the morning afterwards. I had sparkling water the first time I was there and a very lovely tea latte and a Voss bottled water the second time. The reviews on Yelp do seem overwhelmingly positive regarding the coffee. Prices are on the higher side but are nothing out of the ordinary for a nicer independent coffee shop, and it’s good, quality stuff you are getting. Not only is there an extensive coffee and tea menu, but Atomic Coffee also offers raw juices and an impressive food menu, including sandwiches, salads, and breakfast items such as quiche and vegetable croissants.
So, in short, Atomic Coffee is pretty much awesome, and you should pretty much go there the next time you can’t stand being in your house anymore.
401 S. Main St.
Royal Oak, MI 48067