Cozy Cafe Patachou bills itself as "a student union for adults." Local doyenne Martha Hoover founded the original location in the Meridian-Kessler neighborhood back in 1989; her enterprise has since expanded to include a handful of other Patachou locations, two gourmet pizzerias and a gelato shop. The downtown Cafe Patachou on the Park is a sleek, open space painted in gray-green with black accents; a hardwood floor and wooden chairs add warmth. Free Wi-Fi and great artwork encourage a leisurely dining experience (each restaurant has its own in-house art curator).
While waiting for seats, patrons are free to grab a mug and help themselves to coffee. The breakfast menu ($6 to $16) features a wide selection of omelets, waffles, fruit, granola and oatmeal. The Broken Yolk Sandwiches are a good choice with gently fried eggs and add-ons like avocado, salmon and bacon. Beyond the standard coffee, tea and juice, cocktails include bloody marys, mimosas and Bellinis. Lunch selections ($5 to $15) are soups, salads, sandwiches and innovative items such as a lentil pâté sandwich with cucumbers and blue cheese mayo or a winter ensalada fresca of chopped romaine, roasted butternut squash, red onion, cukes, garbanzo beans, black beans and feta with a buttermilk herb dressing. Locals love the bacon-studded chicken salad ($9.75 for a sandwich or salad).