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Best Café Stronghold

Café Paraiso
800 E. University Blvd.

STAFF PICK: Café Paraiso has long been an oasis in the student jungle west of the UA campus. Preserving the funky character of the old Geronimo Hotel, the café offers a cozy place to bury the introverted self in a double latte while seated in a high-back armchair inside, or to have company with the cappuccino on the patio while watching a parade of bicyclists, 'bladers and other student commuters being sucked toward 9 a.m. class. This functional watering hole endured the depression as storefronts along University Boulevard changed face as often as students rip out new schedules. Now, the café is steadfastly sandwiched between two big coffee chains visible from the front door. The street looks more and more like a La Jolla strip mall, but nestled on the east wing of the Geronimo courtyard, Paraiso is down-home with wood floors and a motley array of wooden chairs and tables. Coffee continues to be the main draw. These folks don't cut corners, offering two sizes of large--the tall and the grande. All drinks are made fresh, according to each customer's quirky taste, and the counter staff certainly won't be following a recipe from corporate headquarters. The café also has a full spread of breakfast munchies, as well as salads and sandwiches for lunch. But in the push to sate appetites, they don't forget the caffeinated lifeblood.

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