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Caffeine Monkey Coffee, Café and Lounge

Photo: Mel Guapo, License: N/A, Created: 2011:02:27 06:05:48

Mel Guapo

Caffeine Monkey Coffee, Café and Lounge

1129 Maryland Ave., (410) 637-8718,

The awning still says ASQUAL COFFEE SHOP but head through the door and you’re in a brand new place called Caffeine Monkey. The concept—an odd jumble of Vietnamese sandwiches, Cuban coffee, and bagels and lox—may at first seem a touch schizophrenic. But we’ll be back, if only for the cute 7.5-ounce cans of orange Fanta. Though the kitchen was out of some items—like quiche—when we visited, what was available was delicious. The traditional banh mi sandwich ($6.50), with pork, pâté, cilantro, ginger mayo, and asian slaw on a baguette, had that striking collision of flavor and texture one expects, and the vegetarian tofu and hummus version ($8.50) was surprisingly tasty. (Our companion—a tofu virgin—took a fearful bite, paused, and said, “It’s actually good!”) For the price, we wouldn’t have minded a side—and, ahem, the online menu does say we’re supposed to get a pickle—but the sandwiches are filling. The Vietnamese coffee ($4.25), made with condensed milk and coffee blended with chicory, is dreamy: creamy and warm, with an elusive flavor. As for the Nutella hot chocolate ($4.50 for a large), well, that’s just a stroke of brilliance. The wifi is free, the staff friendly, and the fact that the guy behind the counter rang up our order on his cell phone calculator somehow just added to the charm.

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