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BEST COFFEE HOUSE Minneapolis 1998 -

Readers' Choice: Caribou Coffee Company

Unlike South Minneapolis, where the coffee-house wave has swept from block to block like a synchronized swim team, the North Side doesn't have many venues for gourmet java. Perhaps that's why Destination X manages to assemble such a wonderfully variegated clientele. On a recent Wednesday evening, a prototypical coffee-house renegade was camped in one of the many '50s-style chairs (square cushions covered with shiny, bright-orange upholstery), scowling under his pierced eyebrow as he leafed through a copy of the arty Raygun. Less than 10 yards away, a white-haired lady was tucking into a chicken caesar roll-up in a honey-wheat tortilla, no doubt taking advantage of her 10 percent senior citizen's discount. And in a small space between the long window and an Oriental partition, "Gloria" was giving a regularly scheduled spiritual reading to a portly African-American woman. According to the blackboard on the far wall, a band would be arriving in a couple of hours to start banging on the upright piano. Judging from the hundreds of frequent-buyer cards arranged alphabetically on the front counter, lots of people get caffeinated at Destination X. Stop in for five minutes and you'll see why.

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