BY COLLEEN REESE One of the pains of living in Philadelphia is gormandizing on entirely too much stuff. We snag our egg-and-cheese sandwiches off greasy trucks and never for a second wonder what’s truly in them — the egg-and-cheese that is, not the trucks. The guy at the deli knows your name and the names of your best friends and cousins, but we never really sit down and just breathe with them. So when I walked into joe Coffee Bar and it tugged gently at me to sit down for a little stolen moment, I was almost hesitant. I was so well-conditioned to grab my coffee from the pick-up lane and make for the door that it seemed surreal to me. All of this is sans a la stuff.
joe Coffee Bar is a quiet, olive- and deep purple-walled sanctuary of a café, nestles in at Walnut St. and S. 11th amid countless banks and pharmacies. Cluttering the walls hang Philly-based contemporary art pieces around an anthology of mismatched wooden chairs and tables, and a two-fold futon centerpiece. All drinks “for here” are poured into an assortment of ceramic and thick glass mugs. And when you sit down in the rocking chairs and broken-in futons, not only newspapers, but also books, keep you and your best-in-town “3rd Street Chai” company.
Most of the food, coffee, tea, and cocoa are hormone-free and locally grown. And aside from being a café, joe also offers overflowing baskets of farm-fresh fruit, yogurt and teas. Although lunch and dinner here are not the cheapest bites in town, your extra dollar awards you decent servings of clean-feeling food. Sandwiches (usually about $6.25 to 6.99) are served on fresh whole wheat bread in a mouth-watering display: smoked ham, raised by local farmers, situated in a love triangle between imported Gruyere and a fine finish of honey mustard. Sit down and stay awhile, youse guys.
The Lincoln Bite: a cozy, natural bowl of hot oatmeal (with real maple syrup or dried apples, add $.50) and a small Hot Apple Cider ($4.85)