Of All the Coffee Joints in All the Towns, We Walked Into This One

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The Gulch felt positively neighborhoody this morning when we strolled down the hill toward Casablanca Coffee, the new cafe in the ground floor of the Icon. We spied a guy striding across 11th Avenue carrying a telltale white cardboard cup--as if coffee in the Gulch weren't A HUGE DEAL--and we stopped off to visit Pat Isbey and Russell Nelson, who were tending the smoker at Jimmy Carl's Lunch Box outside the the Station Inn. The barbecue guys asked us to check out the fruit juice and snack offerings at their new java-hawking neighbor. Here's the report:

With a warm, sleek interior design that blends the contemporary flair of its New Urban environs with classic coffeehouse coziness, Casablanca anchors the block nicely with a menu of coffee and espresso drinks from Drew's Brews and pastries from Provence's bakery operation across the street. The sandwich roster includes the likes of The Fat Italian (tapenade, cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, prosciutto, salami and pepperoni on muffaletta for $8.45) and the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese with tomato and caramelized onions ($5.95).

A medium cup of brewed coffee is $2, and an Americano is $2.50, and at Casablanca, the coffee collar resourcefully doubles as a frequent-flyer punch card so don't throw it away. As for the fruit juices, there's no actual orange-squeezing going on, but the barista was proud to tell us about the smoothies made with real fruit puree for $4.75. Of course, our eyes lit up at something called a Chocolate Peanut Butter Blender made with organic milk ($4.50) and the basket of day-old goodies from Provence available for $1, which mercifully avoided any play-it-again references.

That said, all in all, Casablanca's arrival in the Gulch could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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