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Cafe Max at Purple Porch Co-op
Location: 123 N. Hill St.
I discovered Café Max at the Purple Porch Co-op about nine months ago and it has changed my DTSB lunchtime habits dramatically. Amidst all of the burgers, pizza, and pasta, Café Max is an oasis of delicious offerings that won’t send you back to your office looking for a pillow and blanket to sleep off that newly acquired food coma. Purple Porch has challenged (and ultimately changed) my long held notion that healthy options cannot stand up to their greasy counterparts on taste. This group crushes that stereotype everyday and they have developed a strong cult following as a result.
The Café provides just the right variety, which changes daily, to keep me coming back a few times a week (probably averaging about 2.5 visits/week in 2015). To start, Café Max is more than just a lunch spot, the entire Co-Op is open from 8 am – 7 pm on Monday – Saturday and offers foods traditional to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A quick breakdown of the Café selections and etiquette:
The Food – Pretty simply, you can break this down into four areas, the pre-packaged, the hot, the cold, the soup.
- “Pre-packaged” – if you are in a rush and you just want to grab a muffin for breakfast or a wrap for lunch. Pretty self explanatory, good variety, you are in business!
- “The Hot” – All day breakfast burritos, I know several people who live on these things! Add a fritatta which changes daily and you have your breakfast options. For lunch, they are going to throw a veggie and a meat option at you, which will range from vegan burgers to sloppy joe’s and if you happen to go on a day when they have quinoa mac & cheese YOU HAVE to take a couple spoon fulls.
- “The Cold” – Consists of two main parts, a salad bar with your traditional fixings, but all organic and as many ingredients locally sourced as possible. Along with the salad bar, there are several cold sides (what other place would cold sides even be mentioned?) which are absolute musts. If you are a first timer, go straight for the Deconstructed Hummus and your life will be changed forever.
- “The Soup” – Everyday veggie and meat options are rolled out for your consuming pleasure. Outside of the Deconstructed Hummus, this is my next go-to. The soups at Café Max are exquisite, and my personal favorites are the Chicken-Bacon Chowder and the Tropical Coconut.
The Order – There are a lot of ‘favorite’ things about Café Max, but one of them is for sure the speed. The Café is very comparable to Martin’s Side Door Deli in terms of set-up and speed. All of the food is self service, and just as easy to carry-out as it is to eat in the Café. All trays, dishes, and carry out containers are awaiting your arrival and can be grabbed at any time. If you are going to carry-out, it is always encouraged to bring your own re-usable containers and it will even save you a few pennies when you check-out.
Once you have gone through and made your selections, head over to see Gracie for check-out. Pricing is based upon the weight of your food selections and is very reasonable as long as you do not get too crazy with trying to cover every open inch of your plate!
The Atmosphere – I am not going to lie, I end up carrying out more than I eat in so that I can get a few things done over the lunch hour. However, spending some time (even if it is a few minutes) during the work day, at Purple Porch, is a great way to decompress. The setting is very informal and is filled with a variety of different people from graduate students to families. The area utilized for seating is rather small which causes a default intimacy and sometimes a communal sharing of seats. Though the customers appear to come from all over, the tucked in location on Hill Street gives Purple Porch a real ‘neighborhood’ feel and immediate level of comfort when you walk through the doors.
If you are looking for a new place to explore, please take a day and get over to Café Max at the Purple Porch Co-op. You do not have to be a member to eat or shop at the Co-op, and I would wager that you will become a regular visitor once you have tried the Deconstructed Hummus!
Your Challenge: Visit Purple Porch Co-op this week for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Take a photo of your favorite piece of decor, your food, or a selfie, and post the photo on facebook, twitter, or instragram. Be sure to tag DTSB and use #eatDTSB.