While coffee shops in days of old could get by with a solid coffee menu and a pastry case haphazardly strewn with croissants, lately more cafes can be seen expanding their programs to include more food offerings and ample booze, and many newer cafes are boasting full bars and full kitchens. A new Dallas cafe embraces the coffee-food-booze combo: Halcyon Coffee Bar & Lounge.
Halcyon has had plenty of time to dial in to this concept in recent years, as the company has opened two spots in Austin, one in San Antonio, one in San Diego and one on the way in San Marcos, California. A couple weeks ago, the brand quietly opened the doors to their fifth and newest location in the Greenville Avenue space most recently home to Cafe Brazil. The cafe is a compelling new reason to venture to Lower Greenville, and as added incentive, Halcyon inherited Cafe Brazil’s parking in an adjacent lot.
Gone are any traces of the vinyl chairs, mismatched color schemes and dated decor of Cafe Brazil. Halcyon's sleek aesthetic feels modern but also pays homage to more retro styles. Exposed brick and lots of white paint — paired with an abundance of large windows — lend a clean feel that really allows the bright oranges, blues and greens found throughout the furniture and painted accents to pop. This here is one sexy build-out.
Coffee is a big part of the game here, and while it is done well, the coffee program leaves something to be desired. The filter coffees are balanced, and the espresso is pulled as well as it could be, with notes of dark chocolate, red fruits and leather. The baristas care about what they are doing, and throughout a visit, they can be seen dialing in espresso, taste-testing coffees and cleaning their stylish orange La Marzocco GB5 espresso machine. The caveat: Halcyon could stand to use some better beans. The coffee in the hoppers here is courtesy of Houston’s Katz. While it’s fine, that’s about the extent of it: fine. While the shop’s dark roasts may be better than the sour, under-extracted shots some other local cafes are pulling, better beans — of which Dallas has plenty to offer — would improve this cafe.
The food menu includes plenty of early morning fare to accompany the coffee. The Texas-requisite breakfast tacos come in varieties like the Maverick Migas with house-made tostadas, pico de gallo and a cheddar/pepper-Jack blend, $3.95. There are a variety of cast-iron egg skillets ($8 to $10) or an acai bowl ($11) featuring a refreshing blend of strawberry, mango and banana.
On weekends from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the early morning menu is expanded to include brunch, for which they have already garnered a reputation. Fried chicken and waffles ($12) and "Halcyon Benedicts" such as the Benito ($12), with smoked pulled pork and tangy barbecue sauce, bring Texas brunch to Greenville.
The menu isn’t all geared toward early mornings; this is Lower Greenville, after all. There are ample sandwiches, salads, an awesome black bean burger and the S’Mores ($7 for 2 people or $12 for 4), which come deconstructed and equipped with a flame to roast your own marshmallows like a campfire-y rendition of a Korean barbecue spot.
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Aside from the couple dozen beers — most of which are local — and a dozen wine options, there’s a 15-strong list of original cocktails, several of which mix the shop's uppers and downers of choice by including espresso or cold-brewed coffee in the mix. Go for the Long Island Iced Coffee ($10) which, while loaded with vodka, rum, Kahlua, Frangelico, Bailey’s and toddy-style cold-brewed coffee, barely has a hint of booze flavor. Recognizing this inherent danger, there’s a limit of two per guest, so you know it’s gotta be good.
Halcyon is in a soft-open phase until their grand opening April 6, which means food and coffee drinks are 20 percent off — but it also means the staff is still training. Once this place finds its footing, Greenville Avenue is likely to respond well to this hybrid coffee shop.
Halcyon Coffee Bar & Lounge, 2900 Greenville Ave.