For me, city life has always meant choosing a downtown café that suits my mood: funky for a slow cup of coffee and conversation, comfortable and clean for a few hours of work, or diner-style for a decent meal. I’m delighted that Solar Roast has joined the booming business district scene and has taken over the former Starbucks corner on Bijou and Tejon Streets as the eco-friendly coffee roaster offers a bit of all three.
A selection of records on the counter, a wall full of coffee bags – from small to huge – and light walls and paintings set the stage for a café that is a little different from the typical chain café. The vegan options on the menu also set it way above the others.
Breakfast, lunch and sweets are the names of the food games at Solar Roast. There are six breakfast burritos on the menu and one is vegan. And it’s good. Scrambled tofu eggs ($ 4.95) are wrapped in a warm, pressed tortilla with a little crunch. It’s filled with loads of goodness – golden tofu and tender potatoes – as good as it is, and the salsa verde beats it up a notch with just the right amount of heat. It is a worthy hand meal.
For a quick takeaway breakfast, a bagel with spread ($ 2.95) will do. All but two are vegan (avoid the flavors of french toast, spinach, and parmesan). Solar Roast’s local roots are in Pueblo, so I went for a spicy one with a twist: a jalapeno bagel with peanut butter. It’s the only vegan spread option and the way to go. Peanuts are a legume and are full of protein. They turn the bagel into a hearty breakfast sandwich. I didn’t really understand the taste of paprika, but it was tasty nonetheless.
For lunch, the quinoa salad bowl ($ 8.95) is the vegan option. For the price on the small side, quinoa and beans seasoned with cumin – and a few vegetables – are served over raw baby spinach with red onions. Confession: Popeye’s favorite green isn’t mine when it comes to the salad, so it wasn’t a winner for me.
As for the sweet treats? Nobody is vegan. If you need a sugar fix, order a latte or cappuccino. The soy latte ($ 4.15) is rich in the sour aftertaste that is so common with many chains. Or dive into the coffee options menu. There is always a light and a dark option brewed (breakfast mix or Sumatra during my last visit). You can also grab a bag of the Bean of the Week (Columbia, $ 14.99 last week) to expand your coffee horizons at home.
While the herbal options at Solar Roast aren’t numerous, they are solid. And it’s always great to find a place to have a quick breakfast meeting or cup of coffee with a friend and get a decent vegan bite.