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Maggie Cipriano

More stories from Maggie Cipriano

Racy D'lene's Coffee Lounge

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Walking into the back of a restaurant feels like you are being let in on a secret. From a small street between the river and Water Street lies my favorite spot in Eau Claire: A hidden gem, Racy D’lene’s Coffee Lounge.

Racy’s — as the locals call it — is attached by a maze of hallways to the always-popular breakfast spot, The Nucleus.

You are greeted by a groovy fish tank with neon rocks, waving alien figurines and of course, fish. Beyond the fish tank there is another tank, but this one is the home of Earl, the coffee shop’s friendly painted turtle.  

Local artists’ work covers the dark-painted walls. The multicolored room is a hodgepodge of mismatched couches, chairs and tables. Lamps of different sizes made of various materials line the perimeter. The couches suck you in, making you (maybe) too comfortable and ready for a nap.

Because of the proximity of my apartment to Racy’s, I would say I am a regular. Other regulars include the man with the sleepy terriers that always curl up in the box of sunlight on the floor, college students with their noses in books, and the staff who seem to never want leave.

While of course, the cozy, grandma’s-house type atmosphere is important, the real star of the show is the coffee and tea selection.

Tin cans of loose-leaf tea sit on the counter for customers to choose from, while the basic coffee menu resides on the wall behind the bar. Racy’s coffee is delicious and dark — so good even I can drink it black.

The coffee menu has the classics such as the cappuccino, mocha and latte, but also includes Racy’s famous “Ultimate Hot Chocolate,” which is hot steamed milk poured over semi-sweet chocolate chips and topped with whipped cream.

For those who have a sweet tooth, there is a sheet of paper tacked on the wall with cleverly fitting names for highly caffeinated, highly delightful “Specialty Drinks” such as the Hot Mom, Dirty Chumpkin and Hot Squash.

As for the snacks available, of which there are plenty, the best in show is the lemon iced muffin. It is lighter than air with a drizzle of icing that is the perfect amount of sweet. This muffin rivals any other muffin I have had the pleasure to eat.

As if the coffee drinks and tasty treats weren’t enough, the staff at Racy’s is definitely something special. The barista was genuinely excited when I told him to, “surprise me” with a drink. The double shot, long-pull espresso he made did not disappoint.

Racy’s has a drink for everyone. The drinks can be made vegan with the switch to an alternative milk substitute of the customers’ choice, all while keeping the flavor.

The atmosphere is homey and versatile. It is the perfect spot to cozy up with a book and a hot cup of tea, for chill study session, or even a romantic date night shared over a mug of Ultimate Hot Chocolate.

Nowhere else in Eau Claire will make you feel as at home as Racy’s, all while serving you the yummiest cup of joe. That is a guarantee.

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