BEST COFFEE HOUSE - 2001
Swede Hollow Cafe
"The message today is internal sunshine," beams the man behind the counter at the Swede Hollow Café on a bitterly cold, desolate February morning. And he says it with such sunny conviction that you can't help but smile at the cornpone sentiment. Swede Hollow is that kind of place: It oozes shiny, happy feelings. There's none of the smoky, dour, more-sullen-than-thou artifice that plagues too many coffee shops in this caffeine-fueled metropolis. This cozy establishment, situated in a renovated Victorian home, is less than five years old, but feels as vital to St. Paul's East Side as longstanding Payne Avenue establishments like Schwietz Saloon or Yarusso Brothers. You can sit for hours reading a book or just staring out the window at the East Seventh Street traffic, listening to the couple two tables over discuss their upcoming potluck church dinner or the endless repartee of the counterman as he dispenses with a constant parade of neighborhood traffic. The coffee is grand, as are the fresh-baked pastries. Soups, sandwiches, and salads are available as well.