Before Erie Island came around, too many downtown workers were resigned to drinking thin java from perma-stained office coffee makers – if they were lucky and the guy before them had bothered to make another pot. This invaluable East Fourth installation, a fixture since 2009, swaps that dingy coffee with expertly crafted lattes and cappuccinos. Modeled after a Pacific Northwest coffee shop, the sophisticated but comfortable space features wood-sided walls, corrugated steel and a six-stool coffee bar. Skilled baristas grind, load, tamp, pull, steam and pour diminutive works of art, served up piping hot for here or to go. Crowning each cup is a diminutive work of latte art, a decorative design made by pouring steamed milk into the coffee’s crema. Soups, salads, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and real-fruit smoothies round out the convenience-style menu.
2057 East Fourth St., 216-394-0093, erieislandcoffee.com.
Staff Pick: Rising Star