There’s usually a line for brunch at Coca Café, a colorful eatery–cum–gallery in the once blighted, now bohemian, design district of Lawrenceville. Leave your number with the hostess and stroll through the indie boutiques along Butler Street while you wait for a table.
Break for lunch at The Quiet Storm, a vegetarian restaurant and coffeehouse teetering on the edge of a ten-block area dotted with galleries and theaters. There’s local artwork, a “Monster Bash” pinball machine, and a dish called the Maelstrom: a quesadilla stuffed with chickpeas, mushrooms, spinach, and homemade cucumber yogurt.
Tram’s Kitchen (4050 Penn Avenue; 412-682-2688) has bad lacquered art, but the Vietnamese menu and BYO-friendliness more than compensate. The owner-waiter juggles a packed restaurant with little patience, so don’t be surprised if your check arrives before your appetizer. Cash only.