If you’ve ever wondered if coffee house Nirvana exists in Las Vegas head over to the Boca Park area. The answer is “yes.”
The minute I walked through the door the first time at SambaLatte, I had the feeling I wanted to relax with my caffeine of choice with a friend or client and hang. The place opened a couple months ago in what’s becoming a restaurant row destination with Cheesecake Factory, Kona Grill and other eating establishments close by.
SambaLatte elevates coffee to another level. On the other hand it doesn’t take itself too seriously. After all, we’re talking about coffee. We’re not loading astronauts or anything.
I feel good about settling in there. Apparently, so do many others. Owner Luiz, a former chef at one of the Strip hotels, told me some people drive halfway across the Vegas valley to get their morning java at SambaLatte.
The ambience feels warm and coffee-like. The colors in the decor are based on the different colors coffee takes at different stages in its production. A huge mural with a map of the world on one wall shows different coffee growing regions around the world.
Lots of cafe tables and chairs. A big table to share with plenty of outlets and free wifi for the laptop crowd. And a cool upstairs loft with books and games for even more overall coziness.
The challenge with this review is I’m not a coffee drinker. I drink tea. So, on a recent Saturday morning I took my husband Ernie and a few friends to sample the coffee and indulge in some of the sweets.
Above is the amazing Berry Tart with currants and blueberries my husband Ernie enjoyed. He’s not a big sweets lover but he went nuts for this. He loved the tart-sweet berries.
Our friends tried different pastries, too. Linda had the Lemon Meringue Tart and reported the crust was delicate and flaky and the lemon filling and meringue tasted like a homemade lemon cloud with no weird aftertaste. Sherman had what looked like one of the great pyramids of Egypt dusted with cocoa. It was a Chocolate-Caramel Mousse.
Their grandson Jayden, age six, sipped hot cocoa embellished with whipped cream and chocolate syrup. What I heard from all of them between the “ooooohs” and “ahhhhhs” was an appreciative, “It’s not overly sweet,” about everything.
The only pastry that didn’t quite pass the test was the Red Velvet Cupcake Jayden got. He felt the cake was dry. However, it might have something to do with the fact that he licked off all the buttercream icing before taking a bite.
All the lattes were flourished with beautiful designs like you see above. From the satisfied sighs and happy nods they enjoyed their beverages in real cups – although “to go” is readily available.
The piece de resistance was something Sherman got called an “Affogato.” It’s a shot of Espresso with a scoop of gelato plunked right in the middle. He got it with Vanilla Bean. Linda said, “Denise, you gotta try this.” I never thought I’d try anything with Espresso – but it was amazing. The coffee was strong and deep – but not bitter. The Vanilla Bean gelato was creamy and rich. The combination was almost ambrosial.
Many of the pastries are made in France, flash frozen and then appear in the pastry case at SambaLatte. (Pastry freezes very well. For Thanksgiving I served my Apple Cake with Caramel-Pecan Sauce frozen two weeks before. Guests nearly swooned.)
Some pastries at SambaLatte are more expensive than normally found at coffee houses. about $5-6 each. But the sophistication factor is notched up exponentially. You could buy these and serve them at a fancy-schmancy dinner party. Guests would think you slaved for hours or got them at a French bakery. You can also get a big, fresh cookie for $1.50 which is very reasonable. Try the Peanut Butter or Oatmeal Raisin.
Since we visited on Saturday morning, I had the yogurt cup with granola and berries. This is one of my favorite breakfasts. I make my own granola and go out of my way to get good Greek yogurt. So, I’m a little picky. This “breakfast parfait” passed the test because it wasn’t too sweet (I could always add honey) and the berries were fresh, not mushy.
The folks at SambaLatte know noshing isn’t always about satisfying a sweet tooth. They also offer sandwiches, light salads, fruit cups and in a stroke of lower-carb genius, small platters with assorted cheeses, meats, nuts and fruit with a few crackers and toast.
The handsome gentleman in the striped shirt above is Jerry, the Manager at SambaLatte. He’s an example of the caring, knowledgeable service you’ll find. They know coffee and love sharing their passion. Isn’t that how it should be? People who know and love their product – gee, what a concept! *wink*
Jerry told me the coffee house ambience goes as far as having live music on Friday and Saturday evenings including bongo drumming. Very Fifties and Sixties noir chic.
What surprises me is they care about tea, too. They offer a nice array of organic tea and made mine in a glass and steel French press pot. They know tea needs to steep before sipping or adding milk. (I was appalled recently when I visited the coffee chain with the green and white logo and ordered my tea. They first poured cold milk in my cup, then added a tea bag and then hot water. To a true tea drinker that’s just wrong on so many levels.)
I’ve been back to SambaLatte twice for meetings with business clients since our Saturday morning visit. Each time their careful attention to detail never wavers. Clients invariably say, “This place is cool. How did you find it?” I keep looking for reasons to schedule more get togethers with folks and make the 15 minute drive over for a place that feels like home even if it isn’t.