Updated: November 13, 2015
When the weather gets chilly, the chilly turn caffeinated. It’s not just the coffee. Hot beverages, like chocolate or cider, are another famous Adirondack tradition we love to share.
There’s something special about warming hands around a mug, and warming hearts around a good chat. If the blood is feeling a bit thin, pop into a place where the meal crowd has left, the atmosphere has slowed down, and the goal becomes relaxation and rejuvenation.
Saranac Lake’s walkable downtown has some awesome places to sit down with a coffee-and. (Pretty incredible homemade -and.) Watch the weather from a comfy spot. Decide to let the world go by, all by itself, for a little while.
Here’s some of our favorite places to do just that.
Blue Moon Cafe is near the Town Hall, across from the municipal parking lot. It’s an easy place to drop by (come into town on Route 86, right at the second light, next big right into the community parking lot.)
The Coffee: Choose from the six varieties always on tap, from their own stock of Cold River Coffee Company’s locally roasted and ground beans. There’s a decaf, a deep roast, a couple of regulars, and a couple of flavors. On a recent visit I saw the everyday hazelnut and the seasonal special pumpkin spice. Build a blend with a variety of flavoring syrups. Or choose from a specialty drink, there's an espresso machine, foamed milk for cappuccino, 14 kinds of tea, hot chocolate, spiced cider, or (in season) mulled wine.
The Baked Goods: Homemade on premises. Several kinds of bread which can be toasted with tasty jams, muffins, brownies, and cookies. Here there are bagels, many varieties, authentically made, with the option of cream cheese and lox.
The Setting: It’s an eclectically decorated bistro with a variety of table sizes and styles. The art on the walls is for sale. Table service, warm and attentive.
The View: A former storefront, Blue Moon has large windows and a wonderful view of Main Street. Great for people-watching, indoors and out. The back room has distant views of the Saranac River… if you get up.
Options: The music is the rock hits of several decades. WiFi. Full all-day menu (breakfast and lunch always, dinner most of the week) with a beer and wine bar.
Pro-tip: Dash a bit of salt in the hot chocolate, or even the coffee. Perks up the flavor and replenishes electrolytes to give us a lift. Remember, the body works hard to keep us warm in the winter cold.
Left Bank Bistro is off Broadway, right in the heart of downtown, beside the river. (Route 86, right at the second light, bear left at the fork, and just across the river.) Inspired by our Sister City, Entrains sur Nohain, France. One family settled in both places, and now we are linked.
The Coffee: French-style dark roasts, café au lait, espresso (also in decaf), cappuccino, mochas, and Americano. Flavored syrups and teas. Highly regarded hot chocolate.
The Baked Goods: Homemade on premises. Croissants, sweet or savory crêpes, artisan breads with toppings.
The Setting: A stunning space that is authentically decorated. It might be a parlor in some grand mansion from certain angles. Discreet table service.
The View: Front windows onto Broadway, some windows have a view of the Saranac River alongside.
Options: Often a live person plays the restaurant piano. Full breakfast and lunch menu, with dinner some nights. WiFi.
Pro-tip: The classic desserts (Mousse, Crème Brulée) are authentic and delicious.
Nori’s Village Market is the local health food store, but it also has a delightful deli section. It is on Church Street. (Just past the second streetlight from Lake Flower Avenue.)
The Coffee: Five kinds of unflavored Fair Trade Coffee. Fourteen different teas. Yerba mate. Equal Exchange hot cocoa.
The Baked Goods: Homemade on premises. There’s always a gluten-free, a vegan, and a few standard options available in the treat case. Further boxed options throughout the store. Famous for their brownies (I'm serious!) which come in a standard and a gluten-free variety.
The Setting: Many small tables in their own section of the store, with windows. Self-service, pay first. Staff unobtrusive, but happy to help.
The View: The seating is near a large window which overlooks the parking lot. Since this is the Adirondacks, even this angle has lots of sky and some treetops.
Options: Music is classic rock with added funky element. Sorry, no WiFi. Deli has breakfast/lunch items. The store has departments for baby needs, vitamins, fresh produce, locally raised meat, kitchen items, and meditation supplies. (Suitable for gifts.)
Pro-tip: Best chocolate bar selection in town. (And I know what I’m talking about.)
Lakeview Deli is a town favorite, with a full New York-style deli. On the shores of Lake Flower, edge of downtown. (A right from Route 86, across from the boat dock, just before the first light.)
The Coffee: Seven different varieties of Pierce Brothers coffee; light roast, decaf, dark roast, and two flavors. Teas, hot chocolate.
The Baked Goods: Homemade on premise. First of all, there’s the varieties of homemade pie, which they can heat up. Cheesecake. Often a gluten-free chocolate torte. Pound cake and other sweet loaf-type treats. Don’t forget that there is pie. (You’ll thank me later.)
The Setting: Self service. Some tables and chairs along the side, though you might have to reach back to get someone their favorite chips. But go ahead… it’s good Karma.
The View: Some of the tables are right by the large windows, with a view of Lake Flower.
Options: Music is rhythmic jazz, with fusion elements. WiFi. Great sandwiches, homemade soups, take-out dinners.
Pro-tip: Pies are available, whole and frozen, in the case by the coffee. Depending on the journey, it might be thawed by the time it gets home.
Origin Coffee Company is at the intersection where Main Street turns into Broadway.
The Coffee: Expresso machine with many kinds of Fair Trade coffee. Custom flavors like cayenne mocha and lavender. Many kinds of tea.
The Baked Goods: Pie, muffins, cookies and pastries homemade on premises. Gluten-free available.
The Setting: tables throughout a two story space. Self-service, pay first. Staff happy to craft to order.
The View: Many windows and the back has trees and a bit of river.
Options: WiFi. Light breakfast and lunch items.
Pro-tip: The upstairs is popular with writers.
I hope I have persuaded you to seek out our extraordinary selection of hot beverages, homemade baked goods, and unique views on the passing scene. These are great spots to take a break from our shopping and galleries. Take it easy! Stay close.