Wednesday, July 25, 2007

47 restaurants in 47 days: #10, Coupa Cafe

Coupa Cafe
538 Ramona Street
Palo Alto

A few minutes after settling in at a sidewalk table here, a few sips into a luxurious spicy mocha, I said to myself, "This is my new office."

B took one look at the menu and said, "I can see why you like this place." Artisan chocolates, single-estate gourmet coffee, unusual sandwiches, and crepes -- plus free Wi-Fi -- could keep me coming around for a while.

The spicy mocha is a real treat. I came back another afternoon to satisfy my craving for the hot, frothy mixture of coffee and Mayan chocolate, redolent of cinnamon, with just a hint of cayenne leaving a tingle in the back of my throat.

Coupa Cafe's Web site states that it is the only cafe in California serving gourmet Venezuelan coffee. Chocolates from Chuao Chocolatier, displayed in a separate case like jewels, are filled with novelies like passionfruit caramel, ginger-green tea ganache, and macadamia nut praline with chipotle.

I've also enjoyed a warm sandwich made from arepas, traditional Venezuelan griddle cakes made from white cornmeal and shaped like a palm-sized Frisbee. I tried the carne mechada, filled with spiced stewed beef. There were about a dozen choices of fillings. The bread is nicely crispy on the outside (or would have been if I hadn't taken a phone call just as my plate was set before me).

Coupa Cafe aims to be your happy-hour destination, too, with a list of beers and Chilean and Argentinean wines.

One local blogger finds that Coupa Cafe has become too popular. I haven't had any trouble finding a table at mid-afternoon. But if you really need to get some work done, it's better to take a table inside. The patio tables are close together, and I've heard more than I wanted to know about various pets, bikes, and a particularly dapper individual's job skills.

More reviews here, from the Palo Alto Weekly and the San Jose Mercury News.

Coupa Cafe in Palo Alto

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