You won't just happen upon this cafe. Even GPS seemed confused about how to get there. Like the name suggests, its accessed from a back alley stairway. Stacked atop a hookah bar and a taco joint, this unpretentious cafe is loved by locals. Stories about people trying to sleep there abound. It is open 24 hours and frequented by finals frenzied students, so its not that surprising. Street kids and transients strum guitars and play hacky sack outside. No matter the day or hour this little alley is guaranteed to have a crowd.
And, if you're there on Wednesdays, it's your lucky day! At 7pm every Wednesday night there's a dance party. Courtesy of a wellness gym that shares the alley too. It's free and everyone is welcome. People pull in on bicycles, waltz over from the cafe, or just seem to show up. Once the dancing begins, it's hard to focus on where everyone is coming from. Smiles are shared between strangers and friends alike as the concrete dance floor fills up. Butts are bumped with gray haired men in boots and women with flowers in their hair. Hookah wafts through the alley and up the stairs in whiffs of strawberry and grape.
There's a welcoming vibe here. A judgement free alley. Well, except for when it comes to planting trees. Walk up in festival gear from head to toe or carrying your two year old on your shoulders. Well worn wood, eclectic seating, and customer painted ceiling tiles attract arty souls to Alley Cat Cafe no matter age or income. The kitchen and ordering station are centrally located making it easy for barista's to join in on conversations. And, they often do. From the colorful decor to the menu offerings, Alley Cat offers quite a few conversation starters. Each day, you'll find a new "Nerd Question" scribbled on chalkboard near the ordering station. See if you know any of the answers. What is a Saluki?
An ambiguous cat theme pops up on walls and signs. Subtle nods to the cafe's name. The menu offers a variety of coffee drinks and one of the largest selections of loose leaf teas in Fort Collins. There's smoothies, ice cream shakes, and house-made eats. Daily specials rotate through a set menu of drinks and food. Wednesdays are $3 grilled cheese sandwiches. Fridays are $4 Cat Lattes, their specialty drinks. Although the kitchen seems small, the focaccia and buns for their sandwiches are baked right there. Inside often smells like fresh bread and cheesy eggs.
Alley Cat strives to be as sustainable as possible. The cafe utilizes local vendors for just about everything. And, their proud of it. A chalkboard at the entrance details the local companies used daily. Coffee is organic and fair-trade, roasted locally at Jackie's Java. Roberto's Salsa, a favorite throughout Fort Collins, is ready and waiting for the popular breakfast burrito. Compost and recycle bins are marked within to help customers practice environmental conscious dining. To-go cups are all compostable too!
On a suggestion from one of the barista's I ordered the house ginger tea served in stein mugs. It's brewed with raw ginger, spicy and refreshing. You can also get it mixed with any of the other tea selections.
I ordered the grilled cheese every time, add spinach and tomato. Speckled with herbs, the focaccia bread crisps lightly on the outside yet remains pillow soft in the middle.
With free wifi and games strewn around, Alley Cat makes you feel at home. Stay for hours and blend in with math books and laptops open at every table. There's talk of biology research papers and mommy double dates from other tables. Sit with a popular game of Settlers of Catan or play something a little less known like King of Tokyo. Front area seating is well lit and overlooks the busy alley below. You won't find it very quiet but there is a more secluded backroom for studying or telecommuting. Dogs are allowed on their patio which hardly looks like a patio since it's walled in. Dog bowls waiting to be lapped up or tails wagging under the tables will give it away.
Alley Cat is such a rare find. Where else will you find a coffeehouse thats sustainable, offers free wifi, serves delicious eats and drinks, allows dogs, AND is open 24 hours. Heck, they even help you bring out your creative side. You can paint a ceiling tile for $10. I'm not sure what else you could want!