Thursday, August 13, 2009

Good Dallas jernts to take the laptop + work

Since starting to work from "home" in July, I've discovered some good spots suitable for working, with free wifi that fulfills the "gotta get out of this kitchen chair or my butt is going to fall off" objective. Notice that Starbucks is nowhere on this list ($10 to fire up my laptop each time? I'm trying to make money here).

Beckley Brewhouse
1111 N. Beckley Ave (Beckley at Zang Blvd), N. Oak Cliff. Next door to Sprial Diner.

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One of the Cliff's best gems, and it's not even in the Bishop Arts District. Very neighborhood. The small converted crack house is now an adorable restaurant, coffee bar and regular (alkie) bar, all in a space the size of your living room. Best cheese fries, good burgers. A motley mix of normal folks. Heavy on post-shift nurses and doctors from nearby Methodist hospital. Great patio. Short story — I came in this evening for a coffee and to get some work done. No dice. Sitting in the cushy chairs across from me were two older black men who just got off work, Arthur and Bernie. Surrounded by piles of Miller Lite bottles. They immediately started talking to me like we all go way back. I'm always initially shy in situations like this, plus I was, um, trying to work. This did not deter them. I heard all about their world travels together throughout the decades, about growing up in separate but equal days of East Texas, about chasing women in the '60s, about the prostate cancer Arthur's been beating for the past 30 years. People coming in said hi and asked where they'd been lately. That kind of place.

The Pearl Cup Espresso Bar
North Henderson and McMillan
Off Central Expressway, exit Knox/Henderson and go east. Keep going til you reach McMillan; you'll see it on the left.

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This is a hot spot for coffee right now in an area that used to be considered the grittier cousin of chichi Knox Street but is slowly becoming just as Knoxy as the west side of Central. Thankfully, "hot spot" in this case doesn't mean "filled with that famous, loathesome, Uptown douchebag vibe." The owners, workers and clientele are a mixture of urban, soccer-dad, unpretentious and friendly. Can't beat that combo in these here parts. They're really friendly to the laptop crowd; there's like 15 electrical outlets per customer. Supposedly they've got a latte that'll freak you out, but I haven't had it yet (I'm a black coffee or Americano girl). Right now a small construction crew is doing something to the patio (expanding, hopefully), so it appears like there's no parking. Just go around back, where there's plenty.

It's a Grind Coffee House
2901 Indiana Blvd, Deep Ellum. It's located on the ground level of the Ambrose apartment buidling. Just park inside.

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It's a chain, but this one's in Deep Ellum. Now hold up, chain snobs; this ain't no Buck Star Inc. It's a Grind is part of the Demeter Project. That essentially means it treats its employees well — livable pay, benefits. As the Observer puts it in this story from July, it employs "asylum seekers, immigrants, victims of domestic violence, ex-convicts, reformed prostitutes, former drug users, pretty much anyone in dire need of a second chance." Totally worthy, even if the coffee isn't great, which it's not. Atmosphere is better: large paintings of jazz greats decorate the wall, like Ella Fitzgerald and others I can't remember the name of in spite of wanting to be cool for knowing them. Fireplace. Coffee refills are 50 cents, but that's ok. Smart placement: It's located directly on the about-to-blow-up DART Green Line.

There are other places, like Murray Street Coffee in Deep Ellum. But I haven't been there recently enough to comment on it. Any other suggestions?

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