35° North Coffee offers French flair
Cleverly named after the restaurant’s map coordinates, 35° North Coffee is a Santa Fe-based coffee shop that recently branched out of their original location and opened new doors in Downtown Albuquerque. Centrally located in the Country Club Plaza on Central, 35° North is nestled on a corner next to The Draft Station, offering a new caffeine stop for walkers, cyclists, students and workers in the Downtown area.
My first visit to the just-opened coffee shop proved to be a delight. Late Saturday morning brought me into the charming and well-lit space, and I was immediately greeted by a friendly barista. After scanning the menu of your typical coffee and espresso drinks, I skimmed their breakfast options and noticed a listing that I was not at all used to seeing in Albuquerque: beignets. Without hesitation I ordered five of them with a mixed berry coulis ($7) and a small hot latte ($3). I sat at a table for two next to a window with wooden shades and took in the surroundings: clean, brightly decorated, small but pleasant. An enormous world map stretched along the wall opposite my table and a red horizontal line ran all the way across, running through Santa Fe at 35° north latitude. Wooden lanterns hung from the ceilings and cozy chairs with side tables sat in the corner of the shop.
Chai lattes are one of my favorite drinks, and it's an important mission to find a decent one before autumn hits.
The beignets arrived in a black basket with wax paper beneath them and were completely doused in powdered sugar. They were smaller than I was expecting but the flavor entirely made up for the size. Warm, doughy and perfect, a powdered sugar grin appeared on my face after just one bite. The berry coulis—a thin, fruity dipping sauce—was tart with a sweet aftertaste that complemented the powdered sugar pastries quite well. Though I enjoyed the taste of the sauce, I preferred the beignets on their own. They didn’t beat a classic French Quarter beignet from New Orleans but for New Mexico, they came pretty darn close.
My second visit was during the lunch hour—yes, this little gem offers a lunch menu as well. Instead of tempting items like the Javan chicken wrap ($7.95), the beet salad ($6.95) and croque monsieur ($7.95), I went with the hummus-veggie wrap ($6.95). For a drink, I gave the house made chai ($3) a try and I took a seat along the map-covered wall this time while I waited. When my lunch arrived I was impressed with the presentation—the wrap was cut delicately in half on a small wooden cutting board next to a side salad and a wooden fork. All the utensils at 35° North were wooden and, along with the cups, not just recyclable but biodegradable. The aesthetic of the platter was certainly pleasant, but eating small lettuce leaves with a wooden fork proved to be difficult and I ended up using the utensil as more of a spoon. The salad was drizzled with a lemony-tasting olive oil that offered a refreshing zest to the otherwise plain leaves. The hummus wrap contained feta cheese, spinach, olive tapenade, hummus and cucumber all wrapped up in a spinach tortilla. The cucumbers were thickly cut and pleasantly crunchy aside the hummus and feta cheese. One half of the wrap was enough to satisfy me—the hummus was surprisingly filling and for me, the sharp, tangy feta was best consumed in a half portion.
35° North served a pretty decent chai that was evenly balanced on the spicy/sweet scale. Chai lattes are one of my favorite drinks, and it's an important mission to find a decent one before autumn hits. The only qualm I had with 35° North's chai was the temperature—like the latte from my first visit, the chai was not piping hot. It was delicious, though, with a rich, spicy flavor and a sweet finish.
35° North Coffee has a lot to offer; the staff is friendly and helpful, the drinks are delightfully flavorful and the beignets, well, the beignets are truly a win.
1720 Central SW
Hours: Open daily from 7am-6pm
Vibe: Cozy, casual and simple
Alibi recommends: Beignets with a mixed berry coulis