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Best coffee shops near North Austin

Michael Barnes

We extended our coffee search to Near North Austin recently and, although we got a good start on this sector in late 2017, we need your help in filling out the candidates. We’d gladly add to this list.

Kick Butt Coffee. 5775 Airport Blvd. 512-454-5425. 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Wed., 6 a.m.-9 p.m. Thurs.,  6 a.m.-2 a.m., Fri., 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Sat., 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun.* Plenty of surface parking on site. Some of the music is live. Decaf, teas, chai. Some quiet spots in this big space.

We’ve always liked owner Thomas Gohring and his ambitions to create a singular community around coffee, booze, entertainment and, yes, martial arts. Gohring brings to the game a flair for showmanship, an element almost absent from any other coffee shop in town. He has expanded the size of his original location on Airport Boulevard while retracting his attempts to go global. A small stage, backed by his signature graphics, takes pride of place, but the long coffee bar attests to the original impulse to serve rigorously prepared espresso drinks along with food, beer and wine. As the ACC Highland project, as well as the Linc and other area redevelopments fire up, expect Kick Butt to thrive and retain its inimitable character. *The place opens and closes at odd times; we rounded up or down.

Fat Cats Organic Coffee & Desserts. 7020 Easy Wind Dr. #140. 512-296-2960. 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Tues., 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Wed.-Thurs., 9 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Shared surface parking. Decaff, teas, chai. Moderate music.

If you aren’t familiar with the moderately dense developments at North Lamar and Airport boulevards near the MetroRail Crestview Station, you might have a hard time locating Fat Cats. Here’s a clue: Turn west off North Lamar onto W. St. Johns Avenue, then left on the interior lane, Easy Wind Dr., and park just about anywhere. Then wander around the other local magnets, such as Vigalante Gastropub, Black Star Co-op and Fuzzy’s Taco Shop. The bright, narrow, deep coffee shop attracts an assorted crowd, including very focused laptoppers. The owners, however, have gone a long way to ensure the taste and quality of the fair trade coffee drinks and vegan desserts and, oh, the ice cream. It’s worth looking up and paying attention.

Brentwood Social House. 1601 W. Koenig Lane. 512-362-8656.  7 a.m.-6 pm. Monday-Sunday. Surface parking off Arroyo Seco. Decaf, teas, chai. Very quiet.

We were quite surprised to learn about this comforting and popular Brentwood spot from a source for a completely unrelated story. The smallish house on busy Koenig probably started in the 1930s when this was on the edge of town, then was renovated in the 1950s or ’60s to give it a whimsical modernist twist. The owners, Suzanne Daniels and Sarah Olano, have made it all their own with well chosen colors and decor, including a capacious dog-friendly patio out back. Olano specializes in English pastries as well as French-inspired food — all worth trying. Daniels, among other things, makes sure service at the bar and elsewhere is prompt, courteous and knowledgeable. This was sort of a coffee house desert for a while, so we welcome the Social House with open arms. (We’ll also add it to our Burnet Road list.)

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