Going Against the Flow

Vegas’ hidden coffeehouses are brewing much more than just a cuppa

By Renée LiButti

So you’re in Las Vegas and need a java boost – especially after a late-night on the town gambling, clubbing or seeing a show. Where should you go to get it? While chain coffee stores like Starbucks and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf can be found in almost every casino and shopping center in the city, there’s nothing quite like hanging out in an independent café where fresh beans are ground, artwork graces the walls and the staff chats you up a bit. In downtown as well as in outlying neighborhoods, you’ll discover four of these locally owned gems that serve up caffeine with community spirit.

The Beat, a spacious downtown coffeehouse, serves terrific joe and irresistible sandwiches while being a hip, modern-day meeting place.

The Beat, a spacious downtown coffeehouse, serves terrific joe and irresistible sandwiches while being a hip, modern-day meeting place.

The Beat Coffeehouse and Records (520 Fremont St., inside the Emergency Arts complex in downtown) — Some might call this an alternative coffee shop, thanks to its late hours and artsy vibe. Not only does The Beat host regular open mic nights and other free shows, but draft beer is on tap after 7 p.m. The coffeehouse also has a selection of vinyl records that you can listen to and buy, as well as the city’s only zine library. Plus, the menu here veers from the expected. It includes everything from beloved French bistro items like the croque monsieur to the whimsical Slap & Tickle sandwich, which is made with organic peanut butter, homemade jam, smoked bacon and jalapeño. A lot of care from enthusiastic baristas goes into each cup of coffee as well. The featured brew is Colorado River roasted drip and you can order more sophisticated concoctions such as a latte, cappuccino, espresso, mocha or French press.

Coffee Pub (2800 W. Sahara Ave., just a few minutes west of the Strip) — For a quality cup of joe, you can’t beat this café. Open since 1984, it has become a familiar presence in Las Vegas. The interior is bright and colorful with wood-frame furnishings and accents. But the pièce de résistance is the patio, which is tucked away from the busy street in a charming corner of the shopping center. You can sit under an arbor amid trees and other greenery. It’s the perfect place to while away the morning or early afternoon with a newspaper or a good book. In addition, the Coffee Pub prepares an impressive array of breakfast dishes, sandwiches, salads and homemade soups.

The MadHouse Coffee is also an artisanal bakery featuring homemade tiramisu with the first-rate coffee.

The MadHouse Coffee is also an artisanal bakery featuring homemade tiramisu with the first-rate coffee.

The MadHouse Coffee (8899 S. Eastern Ave. and 8470 W. Desert Inn Road, on the east and west sides of town respectively) — European notions define the ambiance here. With an industrial cement floor, a colorful display of art and huge leather chairs, this coffeehouse-cum-gourmet bakery is a bit mad, thus living up to its name. You may think you’ve wandered into a crazed scientist’s lab when you see the rows of beans and syrups lining shelves above the counter, but that’s just what’s necessary for their top-notch coffee making. The MadHouse Coffee also boasts a warm neighborhood vibe. The comforts of home are all available, including board games like Battleship and Monopoly. What’s more, the pastries aren’t an afterthought. Croissants – made from 100-percent real butter, some filled with chocolate and others with apricot – are baked fresh daily. The owner, Marco Prestia, is from Italy, so you can expect the city’s best tiramisu as well. It’s made on the premises, of course. Along with original-style tiramisu, delight in Strawberrymisu, Nutellamisu and other seasonal flavors.

Mocha Joe (117 S. Water St. in Henderson) — With a traditional deli-style front-of-house counter and a mix of furnishings that includes a red leather sofa, armchairs and bar stools, this is a charming and totally relaxed spot for a casual breakfast or lunch. When the weather is good, enjoy sipping one of the assorted drinks – along with coffee, cappuccino and smoothies, up to four different teas are brewed each day – outside on Henderson’s historic Water Street. Owner Shelley Buckner, who took over in August, prepares all the food (everything from the breads to the ranch dressing) each morning using organic ingredients. With chess sets, free WiFi and numerous local publications scattered about, this is definitely a hang-out-all-day kind of place where everyone’s welcome and there’s no pretentiousness.


I’m a Las Vegas native. By profession, I write at Vegas.com. Mostly about the city’s hotels, but on other topics – gaming and transportation – too. I really love staying at hotels. And the ones here are among the biggest and best in the world. Some key things I’ve learned: Resort fees are inescapable (frustrating but true), a friendly attitude at the front desk may score you a great view and over-the-top room amenities – bath butlers, Japanese tea service, menus with “intimate” items – do exist. What else should you know about me? Well, I’m comfortable at a blackjack table. And I like eating late-night pancakes in hotel coffee shops. A lot. Follow Renee on Google+.