On a rainy Friday night, Halloween weekend, Caf‚ Habana is virtually empty. As the small Cuban place converts from restaurant to bar, the few customers there trickle out and smoke cigarettes under the awning, flirting with the Venezuelan bouncer.
Ten minutes after opening its doors on an overcast October morning, Ten Stone Tavern already has customers; seated at one of the bar's elegant tables, a pair of middle-aged men intently looks over the menu.
Quarter to noon isn't when most pubs pull in their business, but a quick glance around Ten Stone, located at the corner of 21st and South, reveals a different sort of feel: warm orange and yellow walls complement the resonant wood d‚cor, framed photographs sit spaciously between potted plants hanging from sunken windows, and cushions line the bench that wraps around the wall.
Sportscenter still plays on three high-def televisions by the bar, but the sound is off, and the music replacing it is quiet, soft, peaceful.
A woman in blue jeans and a red shirt is the only server on-duty, and she tells us to sit wherever we like as she wipes down the bar.
Soon she is bringing water over to our corner table and providing remarkably honest advice: thumbs up to the Tuscan chicken sandwich ($8.95) and quesadillas ($6.95), thumbs down to the portabella mushroom ($5.95) and the ham and cheese ($5.95). We ask if they have orange juice, and she nods.
First things first: leave that hippy aversion at home. While Trader Joe's carries more than its fair share of granola, nonfat yogurt and organic kiwis, it's also crazy cheap, exceptionally tasty, and more than equipped to handle your standard shopping needs.