Its such a treat after living in this area for such a long time now to discover somewhere new and different. Recently my friend and I finally paid a visit to a charming little place that for a brief moment allows you to believe that you’re no longer in South Florida but in the north western part of the country like Seattle or Portland. (I mean who hasn’t dreamed of being there instead of Fort Lauderdale on a Saturday in April?) Push logic aside for a moment and picture a quirky little coffee shop full of odd things: old games, even older books, jewelry for sale, a pair of bongos to play and a living room with sci fi movies playing on the tv screen and better yet – people sitting around watching said geeky movie. The employees are mellow and friendly; quick to tell you about which coffee to try and engage in a little banter. The customers are more like friends (or characters really) who hang out there and are eventually joined by other friends to catch up and chat. Being at this place is like going to that friends house that everyone of your friends hangs out at and who has the weirdest collection of random sh*t that you cant stop looking at or touching. But this coffee shop aint “Friends”; its more like Portandia (a quirky show on IFC about the bizarro residents of Portland, Oregon starring Fred Armissen from SNL fame in a skit like format). It’s cool and effortlessly so. It’s also the perfect way to kill an hour or so on a rainy day and that’s exactly what we did…
You would never know this place existed unless someone told you. You’re not driving by and noticing it that’s for sure. Its located in a small shopping center south of the huge Tarjay on Oakland Blvd. If you know where Hi Life Cafe is – its in that plaza. And go to Hi Life too, its a wonderful restaurant. The entrance into the Coffeehaus is next door to a charming little consignment store. You open the door and immediately walk upstairs – the place is on the second floor. As you walk in, you are immediately greeted by the coffee bar in front of you and the tv/living room to your left. Beyond the couches are a few high tops, several book shelves, and a cozy nook of benches you’d expect to see in a 16th century pub. You can walk outside to a balcony where some men were hanging out smoking cigs, talking and playing bongos (not in the nude like McConaughey). There are chess games set up to play, and a stack of old school games like Monopoly, Clue and Life if you don’t want to take advantage of the free wi fi.
Its pretty clear that Coffeehaus supports their local artists. Artwork of all types hang on the walls, for sale and to be enjoyed. Their website indicates that artists are welcome to perform and invite them to introduce themselves. My understanding is that the place runs primarily on volunteers and it is labor of love – a love of coffee as well as artistic freedom.
In addition to having a full menu of different types of coffees and teas (they have a ridiculous variety of teas), some pastries and a few sandwiches, Underground Coffeehaus has a reputation for offering something a little unique – tater tots. Taters! You can choose one of 25 different varieties of tater tots and based on our helpers suggestion we settled on garlic breaded, zesty and curry. They take 25 minutes to cook and during that time we enjoyed our chai tea latte, hazelnut latte, and a piece of their homemade pumpkin pie. The coffees were lovely and frothy and full of flavor. Id have preferred mine a little hotter but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.
We checked out the books and just enjoyed the atmosphere which was very welcoming. 25 minutes later our tater tots were ready. We were expecting something a little special with these taters, in the end they were frozen ones with their respective seasonings. Id have preferred mine cooked a little longer, and thus crispier, but what do you want for $2.50 for a bucket. They weren’t really anything special but they were tasty and it just seemed appropriate to eat them while having a coffee and staring at a photo of Jesus on top of a book of Mad Libs.
You might not rush back for the tater tots (have them anyway), but you’ll go back for the coffee and charming quirky environment… I know I will.
3 out of 5 forks.