Since I own a car, I have a bad tendency to drive to places that are familiar but far away instead of exploring in my own neighborhood. I’ve been feeling guilty about this, so I decided to head down to Cafe Stellina on 20th and Union to check it out. The second I walked in, I wanted so badly to love it. It had a great casual feel, but was also nicer than I expected, with pretty blue walls and good art.

I ordered a salami sandwich with melted mozzarella and basil on focaccia. It was gigantic and artfully placed on gorgeous blue plates with bright red rings of grapefruit as a garnish. The sandwich was really good and hearty—I definitely liked the combination of salami and basil. The thing I went nuts for, however, was the side of coleslaw. It was vinegar-based and didn’t have any mayonnaise and it was crisp and delicious. Zach ordered the quiche. It was okay, but after having the quiche at Cafe Besalu, it just didn’t compare.

I loved that the place had regulars that would stop in to get coffee and chat with the owner. They all seemed to know each other and it made me sad that I don’t drink coffee. I think coffee drinkers have this special bond with their cafe that doesn’t happen too often in other situations.

I also really liked that the cafe was dog friendly, because we got to see a lot of cute dogs wolf down free doggie treats while their owners ordered coffee. I like dogs okay as long as I don’t have to live with them, but I’m a sucker for dogs that have giant paws. We saw the cutest puppy that had been rescued and was available for adoption. He was a black lab and rottweiler mix with the biggest and clumsiest paws and it broke my heart to think that someone would just dump him by the side of the road. I’m going to try and convince my mom to adopt him.

But back to the food… I wouldn’t say the food is fantastic or recommend driving out of the way to eat here, but if you’re in the neighborhood and craving a sandwich in a cozy spot with plenty of dog and people watching, then it’s perfect.