Coffee houses and shops have had a larger influence on history than many people realize. The ancestors of the relatively tame Starbucks were common locations for people of business, politics, or just good debaters to gather in cities throughout Europe–assisting in sparking such ideas and events as democracy and the French Revolution.
Want to try something a more similar to the European coffee houses of yesteryear? There actually are places where people still gather to chat, hold deep conversations, or just reflect over a cup of hot tea or coffee, rather than buying their cup to go. May I recommend one of your local coffee shops?
Lorca may not be exactly local to Greenwich, but I wish it was my neighborhood coffee shop. This little store on Bedford Street in downtown Stamford is beautiful, new (only opened about a year ago) and provides a very different flair from your chain coffee supplier of choice.
The owner initially wished to open a store to serve churros with chocolate, a tie to her native Spain, but she soon developed a passion for coffee as well. Today, the shop continues to serve the best churros in the area (with several dipping sauces including such options as dulce de leche, Mexican chocolate, and dark chocolate), but now wows their audience with outstanding coffee, tea, and other dishes.
Lorca easily reminds one of a coffee shop in Madrid, Barcelona, or Seville, but is striving to make itself an institution for the local community. One wall features a bright, modernist mural (which I wanted to take a picture of, but didn’t want to creep people-out by taking pictures of strangers), while the facing wall is covered with the work of local artists. The evening I was writing this review at Lorca (they’ve got fast and free wireless, by the way) was the regularly scheduled meeting time of the local knitter’s club.
And people do seem to be responding. The multiple times I’ve been at Lorca, I have witnessed a steady stream of people representing all walks of life in Stamford–from investment bankers to hipsters–flowing in and out of the shop. I do wish (as I’m sure others do, as well), that there was more seating, but they do a good job of providing as much workspace and seating as possible in such a small area. I must mention, however that I have never had a problem procuring either a table or a plug-in Lorca. The staff is consistently friendly, and more than happy to talk to weirdos from Greenwich (or elsewhere) that randomly wander into the shop.
Lorca is at a perfect location for a date-night visit to downtown Stamford–visitors might hit-up Lorca for a late lunch or simply a coffee, tea, or churros break before or after seeing a show at the Rich Forum, the Palace Theatre, or the Avon Theatre, all within an easy walk of Lorca and Bedford Street. Unfortunately Lorca does close at 7 pm, (and 6 pm on Sundays), so plan accordingly.
Interested in checking-out the place? Lorca’s is right next to Lola’s Restaurant on Bedford Street (drive too fast and you’ll miss this tiny place). Great additions to your prerequisite coffee or tea include the Mushroom sandwich, which I usually order in the half-sandwich and cup of tea special. It’s amazing, and I can’t get myself to give it up during a visit to try something else. The lentil soup is not the greatest I’ve ever had, but not being ecstatic about one item here makes me feel better about how exuberant I am over my experience at Lorca. I’d also recommend the quiche and, of course, the churros.
So enjoy the revolutionary ideas you may have while staring up at the exposed wood beams of the ceiling, listening to alternative music common to coffee shops the world over. At the very least, you’ll get to feel a little European without the stress of facing the Continental economic doldrums.
And while you’re visiting the Greenwich area, why not stay with us in downtown Greenwich at the Stanton House Inn? We’re only the next town over from Lorca, and would be more than happy to provide some local advice about the general area.