When it's time for java, I'm as guilty as the next person for doing the easy thing, just going to the neighborhood location of the ubiquitous chain coffee joint that came from Seattle a couple of decades ago. Sometimes it's just the most convenient place to meet and chat with somebody.
But when I want coffee and quiet, with a taste of something good to eat on the side, I've decided on two definite preferences in Fort Worth.
Most often, my go-to spot is Caffe di Angeli on Rosedale. It's just a tiny place you might easily miss, connected to a law office that belongs to the coffee house owners. Attorney Karl Spahr practices next door, along with wife Carolyn, and both jump in to make coffee, too.
Carolyn's gift to Caffe di Angeli is her lunch menu, a short but rewarding list of salads and sandwiches, soups and sweets. I'm partial to the chicken salad, crunchy with sliced almonds, served on fresh baby greens with tomato. I ask for a little balsamic vinegar on the side to dress the greens.
Among pastries at Caffe di Angeli is the Eccles Cake, a specialty from an English friend who bakes them fresh for the coffee shop. They're buttery and flaky and not what we should be eating if we're sticking to our 2011 health goals.
Caffe di Angeli only has four tables, so you won't deal with a loud crowd. Sometimes the TV is a nuisance but if you just ask, they'll put on music (today it was Michael Buble) instead.
A new addition to my list is Buon Giorno Coffee, in the shadows of downtown, near First Methodist Church. I'm wild for the loose leaf tea service, as well as the panini menu. So far, I'm digging the turkey-pesto, but I'm guessing the spicy tuna melt is my next target lunch. There's also a breakfast panini with egg, mushroom, cheddar and either ham, turkey or bacon.
Generally, I like this place in midafternoon when few people are around. At peak hours, it can be downright busy, and there's a play area for kids, giving moms a chance to chat while the little ones play.
Both places provide a relatively quiet setting in which to get some reading done or to answer a long list of emails. And best of all, lunch and a swell handmade hot beverage never costs more than $8 or $9 at either coffee joint.