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Coffee Break: Cafe Walnut

Barista Pearse Pinch behind the counter at Cafe Walnut. (Vinny Vella / Daily News)
Barista Pearse Pinch behind the counter at Cafe Walnut. (Vinny Vella / Daily News)Read more

Where: 703 Walnut St., 215-946-9044

The lowdown: Nestled in the heart of one of the busiest stretches of Center City, this charming, cozy coffee shop caters to wandering tourists and workers from nearby offices. Hours: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Backstory: David and Helen Chang picked the block behind Jewelers' Row for their cafe, according to manager Justyn Chang (no relation). "They envisioned a traditional, homey place," Chang said. "Somewhere people could stay and chat." Cafe Walnut - yes, it's name is part of its address - opened in May.

The beans: La Colombe.

The machine: A chrome, whisper-quiet La Marzocco espresso powerhouse. Chang joked that it "costs about as much as a used car." Money well spent.

Ambience: Caffeine seekers enter the cafe through the basement, where the baristas brew and the stoves sizzle. But the first floor dining area is where Cafe Walnut really shines. The warmly lit space evokes images of a reading room. A small bar against the exterior wall offers customers a wide view of Washington Square as they sip and chew.

Global grub: Cafe Walnut's mission is to provide "delicious, healthy" food - fast, Chang said. The focal point is bibimbap, the traditional Korean dish made with rice, vegetables, egg and tofu or some other protein.

Smoothies: There's a full line of 'em, including a veggie that blends carrot, kale, celery and a variety of fruits.

Sweet tooth: French pastries are brought in daily from Au Fornil, a Narberth bakery. The signature dessert is the Walnut Crunch, bite-sized pastries filled with walnuts and sweet red bean paste.

Prices: Coffee and espresso: $$1.75 to $2.25; cappuccino: $2.74; cafe au lait: $2.75; bibimbap: $8.99; sandwiches and salads, $3.50 to $7.99.

It's a little-known fact that Daily News crime reporter Vinny Vella is called Bibimbap by his closest allies.