From the outside, Unurban looks tiny and perhaps intimidating. Why was I intimidated by this place? Maybe it was the punk rocker types I saw hanging around--I know how painfully wholesome I look. Maybe it was the neon purple and neon green sign growing in the window. Maybe I suspected that my natural good nature would clash with the natural surliness of the baristas. I am really more of a Literati Cafe type.
Maybe all of these things were true, but it didn't prevent me from enjoying the 3 hours I spent there. Musicians frequently perform here, and last Saturday night was no exception, but the shop is large enough that you can sit in the back room, away from the music, and have a conversation in a normal tone of voice while enjoying some live guitar.
During my visit, I had a lemonade--it was pink, and no more exciting than MinuteMaid; water--tap, room temperature, served in a very unappetizing plastic glass that seemed to say, "screw you for ordering water"--I couldn't bear to drink out of it, and wasn't sure what the source of such hostile water was since my friend and I spent at least $20; two Italian sodas, both vanilla, both quite good--and they let you add the cream yourself (it was from TJ's, but if I were in charge, it would be Horizon, which tastes significantly better than any other brand); and an avocado melt, which was damn tasty. It took them forever to make that sandwich, but the wait was worth it. It was huge, perfectly toasted, and very warm. I had my choice between sourdough and honey wheat, and in between the bread was avocado, cheese, red onion, and quality tomatoes. My sandwich was served with round yellow corn chips, which I suspect were also from Trader Joe's (across the street), which I did not eat because I was too full and I need salsa with my corn chips.
The decor is fantastic. Their seating ranges from several rows of old movie theater seats, to kitchen tables salvaged from the seventies, to furry animal print things. I have never seen so many places to sit in a coffee shop. Of course, the movie theatre seats probably had a lot to do with that. I spent my time in the back room, where I could see into the kitchen/employee area from the back. The current art display was abstract flower photography, which a surprising number of patrons were actually making their way around the room to look at (I wasn't terribly impressed though, and I have a decent eye for art). Unurban also had a couple of tall bookcases full of books. In the ordering area, they sell incense and miscellaneous other stuff--something I'd never seen before at a coffee shop.
I did not actually have any coffee, so I can't comment on that. I can guess that the surly coffee boy might give me a look though, since I'm a decaf-only gal, and Unurban's slogan is "Death Before Decaf." For me, it's more like Death Without Decaf. Maybe next time I'll try the coffee. Yes--there will be a next time.
3301 Pico Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Other Area Coffee Shop Reviews:
Anastasia's Asylum (coming eventually)
18th Street Coffeehouse (coming eventually)
The Talking Stick (coming eventually)