Black Owl Cafe-Kalamazoo

It is surprising that eating vegetarian isstill is a challenge in Michigan. I recently went to lunch with my parents at a popular family dining spot in the western suburbs only to find that all three soups had meat based broths.

While my father’s meatloaf with mashed potatoes certainly seemed to do the trick for him, I couldn’t bring myself to pay 9.50 for a Greek Salad and a piece of pita, the next salad option was the house salad was less than five, for a small bowl of iceberg lettuce, a cherry tomato, a single slice of onion and a bit of grated cheddar cheese.

I couldn’t do it.

Luckily they serve breakfast all day and I enjoyed my oatmeal and rye toast, although I forgot to ask for it “dry” and had to scrape off the undulating pool of butter from the slice I did eat. 

Oh well. 

So, that makes finding an amazing vegetarian friendly restaurant all the more delightful, especially when its quality and atmosphere exceed ones expectations as was the case with Kalamazoo’s coffee and breakfast oasis- The Black Owl Cafe.

Located near Bell’s Brewery in what is fast making a claim as the Brooklyn of southwestern Michigan, a title eschewed by the actual Brooklyn, Michigan which I guess would have nothing to do with the other Brooklyn other than certain noise bands often sounding like the revving of a last placed Michigan 500 contestant, it inhabits a small quite run down appearing building, with a tiny parking lot. 

The inside is funky antique store chic and is perfect sized for a neighborhood coffee shop, but quite too small for a popular Sunday brunch crowd which is when we stopped by.  I was continually being brushed against by people standing in line and the servers had to say excuse me as I leaned to the left to avoid their perpetual frantic serving-were they understaffed as they become more successful? Who can say, but to this day I am grateful that a latte or breakfast burrito did not end up on my head. 

The food was amazing- the waffles were light and airy, the breakfast burrito came with the tortillas on the side, a brilliant innovation that prevent sogginess, the potatoes were crisp and lightly seasoned. I had a wonderful yogurt with granola as well. The granola was quite unlike any I’d had before, very small, light, bits of crisped rice, not the clogged, chunky, chewy morass I’ve had at other restaurants. 

In all honesty, besides the cramped space, which based on the man going up and down the stairs with a drill and a hammer, I imagine they are trying to remedy, the biggest disappointment was the coffee. The pour-over was quite warmish,  not even steaming, and the flavor hidden in the tepid swirl of dark liquid. I am sure it is just because they were quite busy., but after a hectic two hour drive, I was more than disappointed. I wish they just had a pot of coffee brewing for these busy mornings, but perhaps next time. 

Based on the unanimous murmurs of approval from our family, there will definitely be a next time. 


So, when in Kalamazoo definitely check out Black Owl Cafe!