Murray Street Coffee Shop Is Everything a Coffee Shop Was Meant to Be
One-time barista Liz Goulding drinks coffee around Dallas so her head doesn't hurt and so she can help keep yours from hurting, too. Got a place to suggest? Leave it in the comments.
If there is anything people love in Dallas, it's new stuff. New is shiny and exciting and lends itself to being written about. Murray Street Coffee isn't new. In fact, it's eight years old, which is 156 in Dallas years. It's tucked into the corner of Main and Murray Street on the backside of Deep Ellum and does its thing, serving the eclectic neighborhood it calls home. If you spend any amount of time around those parts you probably know all about Murray Street, but if you don't you probably don't.
When I arrived on a recent day, I waited patiently for a barista to appear at the counter. I could hear someone in the back so I figured that they would get back to the counter when they could. While I waited I surveyed the counter. Murray Street isn't trying to innovate. There is no Kyoto cold brew contraption displayed on the counter. They don't do pour overs. The back counter is full of syrups and bags of coffee. The front counter has giant coffee mug with the words "tip you bastards" on it, just in case you weren't sure if you should.
Minutes later, a bearded man stepped out from the kitchen and delivered food to three men sitting on a couch next to me. He then assumed his position behind the bar and took my order. I ended up with a cup of Ethiopian and Mexican mixed because the aforementioned was running low. I asked if he was the only one working and he said, "Yep, that's how we do it around here."
He could tell I was new, because he is the kind of barista who knows everyone that comes to Murray Street. A barista that takes the time to get to know their regulars is a beautiful thing. For me, coffee shops are about more than the liquid speed; they are about the people that give the space definition. The people behind the bar set the tone, and at Murray Street they definitely have tone going for them.
One taste of my drip coffee and I was instantly transported back to the days when dark roast was the norm. Murray Street is a throwback to the days before Starbucks were everywhere. Before Pumpkin Spice Lattes took over the world. Back when almost all coffee shops were local coffee shops, and they all offered bagels with cream cheese. The coffee wasn't in my flavor wheelhouse, so I asked for a generous glug of soymilk and the barista was happy to oblige.
In high school, I fell in love with a coffee shop. It was full of funky old furniture and I drank a lot of mochas and flipped through the Wiccan books that were for sale. This was Greenville, so naturally that place didn't last long. But the feeling that I had in that space was that time didn't matter so much. If I wanted to nurse my giant sugary mug of coffee and catch up with a friend, that was okay. It's the same feeling I had while inside Murray Street. Time and time again I watched a customer come in and make small talk with the barista or nearby customer. Even I couldn't help myself, as I ran into the same neighbor I saw at Weekend, sans bowtie.
But don't think this place is all warm and cuddly. Murray Street is comfortable in its own skin and could care less about keeping up with the Coffee Jones. The note on the tip jar sets the tone, and while I felt welcome in the place, I also got the feeling that this isn't one of those places where the customer is not always right. The shop has two floors, both with a mix of table and sofa seating and an oriental rug on the bottom floor. The music was all over the place, from ambient world folk music to heavy metal, which describes the clientele as well, with some business casual thrown in the mix.
If the frills and seriousness of craft coffee intimidate or annoy you, Murray Street is the place for you. The coffee is a means to an end at Murray Street. The end being caffeine, but also the community that surrounds this neighborhood shop.
This coffee shop is good for: - enjoying a white chocolate mocha without going to Starbucks - becoming a regular - staying awhile - wearing your beanie
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Dallas dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.