Café Java Bistro Review
It has a modest, unassuming exterior, just its name in italicized uppercase letters mounted on a dull brownish wall above plain glass windows; but what Café Java lacks in outdoor branding, it makes up for in virtually everything else.
At the end of our stay in the eccentric city of Austin, Texas’ capital, where we joined in on the weeklong festivities of South by Southwest Festival, my husband’s college friend invited us for breakfast at this bistro as part of his ongoing tradition for hosting guests in his newly-purchased abode. Since it was only a little before 10 am on a chilly Saturday and we had a long road ahead of us (1,378 miles to be exact), his invite brought about pleasant thoughts of steaming cups of coffee and warm plates of breakfast, and was, therefore, hard to resist. So with our bags packed and the dusty car ready for the road, we followed him to his favorite haunt.
If you didn’t know what Café Java was, you probably wouldn’t give it a second thought. Not only is its exterior simple, it’s also located at the hidden corner of an ordinary commercial complex 11 miles away from where all the action is. A second look, however, will hint at how this place has become one of Austin’s favorite bistros – hungry locals stand in line outside, waiting for their turn at a table and a comforting meal.
As soon as you walk in, you will immediately understand why this place has lots of loyal patrons. Inside, Café Java makes a stunning transformation. Its walls and ceiling are tastefully covered with works of art undoubtedly by local artists, witty inspirational quotes, and hanging light fixtures that cast an intimate glow in the room, giving this place a kind of bohemian feel. It’s also absolutely bustling, every inch of its space strategically filled with black tables, red booths, and bar stools to accommodate as many people as they can and avoid keeping any customer waiting for too long.
Of course, Café Java has a lot more to offer than its rich decor. The staff is friendly and always up for a chat, the service is fast and efficient, and the prices are super reasonable. But really the main reason for its traffic is the amazing home-style dishes they serve here. Following the longstanding Texas tradition, they serve the famous hearty TexMex (Texas-Mexican) cuisine here, fusing favorite American ingredients with Mexican-style cooking.
You can whet your appetite with tortilla chips with salsa or with one of their specialties, the Java Nachos. Or you can go straight to their breakfast menu, which has everything from the traditional pancakes, eggs, and bacon to moist biscuits topped with delicious gravy and nine different types of the fluffy omelets. I, myself, had their chorizo and potato breakfast taco as sort of an ode to our last day in the city and was exceedingly satisfied, although admittedly I was also eyeing my companions’ huge breakfast plates. If you’re coming in at lunchtime and would prefer something more appropriate, Café Java also serves sandwiches, salads, and burgers. Whatever you decide on, it’s an absolute must to order a generous cup of one of their several coffee drink creations, especially their “Whole Lotta Love” Latte, which I thought was made perfectly.
With its wonderful food, charming atmosphere, and great service, Café Java has definitely struck a cord with us, as it’s done with a few hundred others before. It’s an Austin gem that you shouldn’t miss if you’re ever in town.
© Photography by Michelle Rae