Before returning to the much-delayed freelancing discussion from last week, here’s a quick round-up tour of some of Boulder’s best writing venues. If you’re looking for an office-away-from-home, and you’re biking or walking along 30th Street, you’ve got plenty of choices. Start your journey at Arapahoe and 30th Street, point your wheels or your feet north, and give these places a chance to become your favorites.
1. Barnes & Nobles (30th/Pearl). Easy to get to from the bike lane; either hang a left on Pearl, or cross 30th at the new flashing-light-button-press crosswalk. Spend some time perusing the stacks and researching your current work-in-progress. Stop at the cafe counter for something tasty. Then settle in: the easiest places to find a seat are the wide ledge all around the big central fireplace and the tables back in the crafts corner. A/C outlets are sparse, sadly; look at the floor for the nearest one to your seat. Wi-fi requires a free login; the splash screen will not redirect you. Compares favorably to Borders in that the seating areas are more spread out and you don’t have to climb stairs to find them.
2. Vic’s on Walnut (Walnut/32nd, south side). Hang a right on Walnut and follow the plaza to its last couple of retail doors. Where Java Hut used to be, there’s now a new outlet in the regionally owned Vic’s Espresso franchise. There’s not much anywhere to sit downstairs, but upstairs on the mezzanine you’ll find plenty of room. You may have to sit with your back to the TV in the corner, whose volume is at least usually off. Compares favorably to Vic’s Espresso in Diagonal Plaza, which is physically larger but far too crowded. The Walnut location may feel more comfortable to you than the slick plastic and steel of the Diagonal Plaza location, too. The Walnut location also has more A/C outlets.
3. Casa Alvarez (Walnut/32nd, north side). When you’re ready for real food, head across the street for some of the most authentic (Jalisco region) and reasonably priced Mexican cuisine in town. Come in time for the lunch specials, 11 to 1, for some cheap, filling, tasty entrees. On the rare occasions when the wi-fi won’t deliver, ask ’em to restart the router. The owner is very familiar with this operation. Waitstaff always say “take your time” and mean it, but if you’re going to take them up on it and stay several hours, you should adjust your tip upward. A/C outlets can be found beside the tall tables and along the inner wall of the sunken dining area; hosts are almost always willing to accomodate requests to sit near them.
4. Twisted Pine Taproom (Walnut/32nd, northeast corner). If what you really want is a beer with your writing, let one of Boulder’s microbrewers host your work session. And if you’re not of age, never fear; they only card at the bar, and they serve soft drinks. They also — last time I checked — serve Udi’s sandwiches. Their beer is excellent, though. Billie’s Chilis is a unique offering. The Espresso Stout is tasty. The Rasberry Wheat is exceedingly drinkable. The seasonal offerings are simply a delight. As a writing space, they’re surprisingly accomodating. The wi-fi is speedy, unencrypted and without splash screen. There’s plenty of plugs along the south wall. You can sit at the bar/counter along that wall or at one of several tables in big comfy rolly cushioned chairs. The only caveat here is, the lighting is dim and pub-like (no surprise), and as the afternoon wears toward nightfall the taproom can get crowded and noisy. Bring headphones and a high tolerance for low personal space — or come earlier toward opening hour (3 on weekdays, noon on Saturdays, 11 on Sundays).
5. Pekoe Sip House @ Steelyards (30th/Steelyard Place). First it was The Painted Bean. Then it was Joe’s Espresso, during which time the place developed a devoted clientele. Then Joe sold the place to one of the baristas, who turned it into Boulder’s newest outlet in the locally owned Pekoe franchise. The regulars showed no sign of turning tail when that happened; it remains a popular place for tea, coffee, breakfast burritos and informal business meetings. The latter can make the place crowded and noisy, although once you sit at a table it’s easy to forget there’s a busy cafe around you. Plugs are plentiful. The wi-fi is unencrypted but requires you to click through Pekoe’s splash screen and T&C. You’ll get logged out after a set time — something like 2 or 3 hours — at which point you’ll need to log back in as before. (You can also get Elephant Hut’s encrypted wi-fi password next time you eat there, and connect to it instead; no login, no limit on time.) Bonus: get inspired by the rotating art show!