Good morning! I’m still in catch-up mode from my Mammoth Lakes vacation but I’m excited to share some reviews of my favorite (and not-so-favorite) local coffee shops.
You might remember from my Southern Road Trip earlier this summer that I have a travel rule: NO chain restaurants on vacation. You can get Olive Garden and Subway at home, so why not try out the locally-owned businesses that are specific to your location while you’re there? The rule applies to coffee too, so we keep the Starbucks to a minimum when we’re away from home.
Like the southern road trip, we intended to try a new coffee shop each day. That was going good and well until we walked into Stellar Brew Coffee House on Main St…..and came back 2, 3, 4, okay 5 times. #oops. The atmosphere, coffees, baked treats, breakfast bowls, staff, and charm made it the perfect morning pick-me-up stop.
But we’ll begin from Coffee Stop #1: Looney Bean
Loved it! The store was pretty crowded and dark inside, but there is a fireplace and outdoor seating. My hot americano was one of the better espresso drinks from a local coffee shop I’ve had. My mom splurged and got the raspberry white mocha which had the best flavors. Cute shop, great coffees, nothing super stand-out about the shop itself. All in all, it was a success.
#2: Side Door
Upon arrival, we were warned that the espresso machine was broken. That’s kind of essential for americanos/lattes….we were left with iced coffees as our only caffeinated option. We asked for a couple pumps of sugar-free vanilla and a splash on non-fat milk added to the iced coffees, but I’m not sure what the heck we got handed in our cup. The milk didn’t mix with the coffee, but rather left some stringy fiber-looking strands of white in the dark drink. We definitely tasted the sweetener but couldn’t taste any coffee. I also ordered 3 drinks, but the barista was finished with our order at 2. Rather than remind him that he still owed us another drink, we just tossed ours in the trash and walked out. :( I don’t think you can blame us for being “Coffee Snobs” with this one….it was just really terrible coffee.
#3: Schat’s Bakkery
(No, I didn’t spell that wrong. It’s European.) Oh, this poor barista was a hot mess. Schat’s Bakkery has amazing fresh bread and an adorable European store-front. My order was simple enough: 2 iced coffees with sugar-free toffee flavor.
While one barista worked on another order in front of the espresso machine, the girl making my iced coffees stood right next to her. So naturally when she poured the pitcher of coffee and the lid fell off, the coffee spill ruined not just my drink but those other two too.
When she cleaned up her mess and re-made our iced coffees, I noticed she “forgot” the flavoring. Instead, she handed me my iced coffee and a separate sugar-free toffee candy…… not exactly the same. When I clarified my order, you would not believe that she actually DUMPED THE WHOLE CUP OVER AGAIN. She spilled on their counter twice in one order! That’s when I’d call it a day (cry-laughing emoji). Poor girl, I hope she isn’t always this frazzled.
#4: Black Velvet Coffee Shop
This coffee shop is highly-rated on Trip Advisor and sits right along Main St. Seems like it’s set-up for success! I can’t accurately write a full review on this coffee shop because we never made it to the ordering part…
The sterile shop had the tiniest little menu board sitting on the counter. The barista didn’t greet us with a hello. The pastry box was almost empty. No customers sat at the tall tables. The vibe wasn’t what we wanted to waste our coffee stop on so we crossed the street to coffee shop #5.
#5: Stellar Brew
Before I start my rave, I’ll start by stating that I’m not incentivized to say this and I don’t know anyone who works here! Just in case you’re skeptical of online reviews ;) I honestly just believe in supporting high-quality local businesses and this one was awesome. Hippy? Yes. Worth coming back? Yes x 5.
The covered patio seating always had a couple dogs with their owners hanging out and enjoying the summer sunshine. The inside has just enough of that “cluttered chaos” look where it’s charming but not overwhelming. Unique jewelry, handmade body washes and oils, and recycled glass bottles sit for sale around the counter. The menu is huge and full of healthy options like fruit & yogurt smoothies, acai bowls, and “Basin Bowls” which we recreated at home Sunday night (recipe below). There were also tons of not-so-healthy bakery items like Almond Chocolate Bread Pudding, Lemon Blueberry Coffee Cake and Morning Glory Muffins that were incredibly difficult to pass up. I did cave and get the gluten-free vegan chocolate chip cookie though, and I’ve never had anything with that nutty, crumbly texture. Confession: I got a second one the next day ;) #vacationmode
I tend to stick with hot and cold americanos when I order coffee to-go and I’ll add in non-fat milk, but I couldn’t help but steal some sips of my parent’s more fancy drinks. The Stellar Brulee was all of our favorites, hot and iced. It’s a caramel white chocolate mocha latte ( so basically….dessert in a cup.) but another equally amazing concoction was the Trail Mix Mocha. There is definitely a hippy vibe going on and the service wasn’t particularly speedy but it was definitely worth the wait. By far the best coffee shop in Mammoth!
Aside from the 12 coffee drinks, two cookies and slice of coffee cake we ordered from the little cafe, we really loved the Basin Bowl (and apparently locals love it too. Someone was always ordering one each time we were in line!) The Basin Bowl is a power bowl of brown rice, kale, carrots, tomatoes, beets, Bragg’s liquid aminos, an over-easy egg, and some tzatziki sauce on the side. It was the perfect blend, with lots of garlic-y flavor and we thought it’d be easy enough to recreate at home. Sunday night, we blended up some raw cauliflower in the food processor to turn into a rice texture and lightly sauteed in a pan over the stove to replace the brown rice. It’s all about presentation ;)
Basin Power Bowl Recipe (adapted from Stellar Brew)
- 1 head cauliflower, rinsed and chopped into large chunks
- 3 cups of baby kale, rinsed
- 1 large carrot, grated into long thin strips
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1 cup shoestring beets
- Bragg’s liquid aminos
- 1 Tbs. garlic
- 1 Tbs. black pepper
- Optional: rinsed black beans or garbanzo beans; protein source of choice (chicken, tofu, egg, cashews, etc.)
- In a large food processor, pulse the cauliflower until it turns into a rice-like texture.
- Heat a large skillet with a drizzle of olive oil or coconut oil and garlic, and sautee the cauli-rice for about 5 minutes. It will become slightly toasty. Add in the baby kale and pepper, then cover with a lid for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In your serving bowl, combine the cauli-rice, kale, carrots, tomatoes, beets, beans and protein. Add liquid aminos (if you do not have/like liquid aminos, I would recommend a vinagrette salad dressing!)
- Take a picture becuase it’s Instagram worthy ;)
So we’ve covered coffee & running in Mammoth….and I’ve got a few cool adventure stories to share with you tomorrow before we get back into normal everyday healthy living stuff.