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This past week I went back to my roots. I traveled far back to Valparaiso. Good old Valparadise. The last couple years, my hometown that I once complained about being, “SO boring” and “There’s nothing to do!” After being out of Valpo for a minute, I’ve grown to really appreciate this adorable town. A lot of local businesses have been booming, outdoor venues added, trails, fitness options have just exploded all over. While I was back in town, I did not skip a beat on hitting my favorite local café, Blackbird.

The month before I moved to Denver, THIS was my go-to spot. I spent many hours here cranking out a 15 credit hour summer semester in a two-week span. (Update: Didn’t quite take me the two weeks, but I managed) There were days I would spent literally 12 hours posted up in Blackbird. What really stood out to me was one particular day last summer. Right before Arrested Development came back on Netflix, Blackbird café kept a countdown going until the show was back on. Oh just wait, it doesn’t stop there. Blackbird also had Arrested Development inspired drink options, smoothies and more. The chalk board easel (that I’m obsessed with outside stores) had a picture drawn of Tobias. It was AWESOME. Inside the register they recommended the, “I just blew myself” smoothie. HILARIOUS. Anyone who is a fan of the show, you’ll understand what I mean.

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Tucked away downtown, I would have to say this is the most local feeling café you can find in the area. Steps away from the courthouse and the prime downtown area, Blackbird sits at a perfect place. They serve BOMB food! During my hours upon hours post up sessions in the café, I dabbled and went to nomtown with their sandwiches and salads and holy shiz. They hit the spot. When you order food, you get these cute little card holders with different random cards that go inside instead of traditional numbers. Really, they have the most random words and pictures on there. It certainly adds to it’s charm.

The outdoor area right out front on the downtown sidewalk (separated by a fence) has adorable rope lighting up top. There is always the chalk board easel with a witty saying, picture or displaying one of their drool worthy menu items. Inside it really isn’t that large of a space. The whole left wall is covered with the original brick from the building with funky yet fitting artwork along the wall. The front half of the café has the comfortable couches and seating that would be perfect to come in and coffee talk. The tables along the brick wall are perfect for getting work done in. There are many distractions but nothing unbearable.

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The tea selection is worth checking out! It goes on for days. They display it all on these shelves near the brick wall so you can take a peak at what it is exactly you are getting. To be honest, can anyone look at tea and understand what they are looking at? Probably not. I’m sure the baristas would be able to pick out a great tea from their selection if you just ask.

imageLooking for a quick quaint breakfast spot? GO HERE! They make their Quiche from scratch and I absolutely trust the food here. Last time I went in, I asked where their pastries come from. The owner, who happened just to be standing right there casually helping out for a busy saturday, makes them at home. I think that is so great! The muffins, cookies all of it. Baked straight from their personal kitchen. That’s pretty stinkin’ local and fresh. I’m into it!

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The overall atmosphere is very comfortable. You can tell it is not a chain and from a local owner. If I was living back in Valpo still, this would be a spot I would go to frequently. Especially to check out the live music that they have from local artists!

 

What is the biggest difference between this Indiana spot versus a Colorado cafe? The baristas were super friendly at Blackbird don’t get me wrong but I feel like the baristas in Denver are just more into it. Their profession is to be a barista not kill time during school or whatever to get extra money. They certainly aren’t as chatty as those Denver baristas too. When I go out to a coffee shop out in Colorado, I find that they are just so interested in people. There is just a different vibe I can’t quite put my finger on what the real difference is. I just find that Denver people are so creative and have a certain quality you can’t just find anywhere. Everyone is overly friendly and social in Denver and so maybe people are just more to themselves and on the go back there. Another difference was the gluten-free, vegan options. In Denver the selection is MUCH wider and more common that all of the pastries are already gluten-free or Paleo and vegan.

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The coffee I had was really good! Again, no Almond milk but I had rice milk instead of soy. The syrup option list is outstanding! There were flavors I’ve never heard of on there too. I of course, stuck with the usual, ARMVL. I was a fan! Not too much syrup just the right amount of caffeine to turn me into a chatty cathy for the next few hours.

 

The verdict: Valpo friends, check it out if you have not yet! Go there for breakfast or lunch. Sit outside. Go for the live music or to escape for a bit to catch up on some reading with a hot cup of tea. I am STILL kicking myself for not grabbing a muffin. Oh there were also a variety of breads with gluten-free options too so although the selection for those dietary restricted choices, they were still there! Or those who are rolling your eyes at the thought of gluten-free and the word Paleo, there is plenty there for you too, don’t worry.

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