Sammy's is a coffee shop gem with substantial scratch cooking

Sandwiches are thoughtfully dressed and generously proportioned.

Sandwiches are thoughtfully dressed and generously proportioned. Mecca Bos

St. Paul's Payne Avenue and West Seventh become more and more hip by the day, with infusions of city money and new industry revitalizing these formerly forgotten thoroughfares.

Meanwhile in North Minneapolis, West Broadway remains one of the Twin Cities’ most blighted major streets.

But look closer. There’s vibrancy here. Sammy’s Avenue Eatery is one place you'll find it

The sunny cafe reverberates with activity. Conversations bounce from the upcoming minimum wage vote to the new big residential real estate project on the avenue to a nearby business incubator. Amazingly, nobody is gazing into a computer screen.

This is a true “third space” where work meets leisure meets home-away-from-home.

You come to Sammy’s not for the frou frou coffee or the Bose speaker system, but for the pile of newspapers in the window sill, the substantial scratch food, and the strong cold press that will have you leaping, not walking back to the car.

A surprisingly comprehensive menu makes this a true lunchtime option, an always welcome feature in a coffee shop. Salads and sandwiches are big, and there are hot food selections. A smattering of comfort desserts like pecan pie, banana pudding, and peach cobbler round things out nicely. Fresh fruit smoothies are also on deck for those of a healthy mindset.

The interior is sunny and thrumming with action and the service could not have been nicer.

The interior is sunny and thrumming with action and the service could not have been nicer. Mecca Bos

We liked a hot turkey pastrami on squishy wheat bread dressed with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and a sweet but good onion vinaigrette. A house-made chicken salad was dressed similarly, and a vast mug of potato beef soup was rich, piping hot, and again, made from scratch.

Cold press coffees were leaps and bounds above many we’ve had at more high-falutin’ places. It's dark and rich and not the thin brown water you could read the paper through. A full roster of espresso drinks including a couple infused with dark chocolate will keep you caffeinated for all for that important business. Service could not have been more amiable.

The next time you’re north of downtown, give this little gem a look, and keep in mind that they also cater.

1101 W. Broadway, Minneapolis