Wake up and smell the coffee

by Mary Tutwiler

Nidal Balbeisi's ever expanding empire of restaurants crossed another Rubicon on Friday, opening the doors of Collage Cafe on Jefferson Street. The espresso machine cranks up at 7:30 a.m. to jolt a coffee menu to life. Espresso, capuccino, lattes, cafe mocha and cafe au lait, beignets, fresh fruit smoothies, a breakfast special of the day and cafe tables on the sidewalk are vital to the urban fabric of downtown. Thank you chef Octavio "O.J." Ycaza for getting up early so we can have our morning cuppa joe.

The menu is limited through Festival International to a handful of sandwiches, salads, pizzas and a plate lunch special; walking food if you want to go, but there's lots of seating inside including at the bar overlooking an open kitchen, where you can see your burger sizzling on the grill. Look for new items next week.

Collage Cafe
423 Jefferson St., 704-9000
Open daily: 7:30 a.m.-10 p.m. through Festival International, after that closed Sundays, but late night hours will be added.