Espresso Gallery is truly the living room of SA coffee shops. Since The Foundry's untimely closing three years ago, loyal customers have been mourning the loss of a hang out that felt like home and the community that came with it. Owner Aaron Garza, who worked at The Foundry for almost five years, has tried to recapture the shop's magic with new finesse – think Cheers with less beer, more coffee and a target demographic of millennial hippies with little to no disposable income.
Originally opened as an art gallery, Espresso Gallery has expanded to incorporate aspects of a modern coffee shop, music venue, open mic and now a restaurant of sorts. The space is in its third year of existence, but only in its second month offering a full lunch menu, including an array of panini plates (turkey and bacon, B.L.T, pizza or banana nut) for $7.75. Reasonably priced and relatively good, I recommend Espresso's classic item: the waffle. Put everything on it.
Delicate pastries come via H&H Bakes&Cakes, a company whose banana bread I would eat by the loaf if allowed, are served up as well. The coffee is roasted in Austin and delivered weekly from Texas Coffee Traders. Did I mention you could also buy a bowl of cereal at this place? For $2.50, you can enjoy your Honey Bunches of Oats, lie on the couch and peruse Twitter. It's basically the college dorm room you always wanted.
Espresso has steadily gained notoriety in the music and poetry community, having served as a hub for the promotional company Die Happy, as well as a venue for national touring acts and recognizable local talent like Milli Mars, Lonely Horse and Last Nighters.
One-of-a-kind is an understatement for this DIY wonderland complete with mismatched furniture, a bottle-cap chandelier and randomly decorated mannequin torsos. The displayed art comes from an array of local artists chosen by Garza, and the staff is composed of friendly volunteers and one full-time barista. Hours vary from day to day, but hover around 9 a.m.-6 p.m. or later, depending on any events in the evening.
If you jump on the VIA on San Pedro from downtown and ride it 'til you hit a grungy territory, you will find a cluster of shops seemingly too cool for everyone. Shady? Most definitely. Up and coming? In the most unique, sincere way, I would venture a yes. From left to right: The Paintyard (street art haven), Doomsday Tattoo (I got a tattoo there once), Espresso Gallery (aforementioned) and Lazy Daze (loveable head shop). The area is a counterculture all its own.
529 San Pedro Ave., 354-2233
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