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An Iconik place to hang out for excellent coffee and a good, basic lunch

Greg Knudson and Gabrielle Ash chat while sipping coffee at Iconik Coffee Roasters in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Greg Knudson and Gabrielle Ash chat while sipping coffee at Iconik Coffee Roasters in Santa Fe. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Iconik is in the coffee-roasting business, as its full name implies. But this hidden gem in the Lena Street Lofts off Second Street is more truly a cafe catering to a young and eclectic clientele.

The food is basic and good, the coffee excellent and the people-watching potential, for Santa Fe at least, exceptional. My guest for an early Saturday lunch had never heard of the place, but promptly moved it to the top of her coffee-with-the-laptop list.

Iconik’s sandwich offerings total four, ranging from grilled cheese or curried chicken salad to falafel and a BLT. Each is served with a small house salad – as my guest noted, a far healthier and appealing option than the more usual fries or chips.

She chose the curried chicken salad, served on a big bagel ($8) and was more than pleased. Bite-size chunks of white-meat chicken were bound with a curry-seasoned mayonnaise dressing, and served up with a layer of lettuce and tomato slices.

I opted for the BLTA – the BLT with avocado – and, at $10.50, the second-priciest thing on Iconik’s menu. That’s probably because it contains a lot of bacon of the better sort: thick, salty and smoky.

And avocado – a good half of one at least. All this, plus lettuce and tomato, was served on a very dark, chewy bread that I guessed had some rye flour in it.

For the record, the most expensive thing on Iconik’s menu is actually one of the breakfast bagel combos, with cream cheese and house-made smoked salmon. That’ll set you back $11.75, but is presumably worth it for the custom lox.

As for our lunch, it was basic. But the side salad brought the unexpected. Field greens, tomato and cucumber slices, a little red onion and some shredded jicama – good enough. The dressing, though, was excellent: a miso-laced, lemon-based “vinaigrette” that added an elusive nut-like flavor to the whole. Nice!

At nearly noon on one of this year’s seemingly endless dog days, neither of us was in the mood for hot coffee, so we opted for glasses of iced lavender-and-mint tea ($3.50). It was more flowery – not a synonym for sweet – than minty and the summery flavor (not to mention the ice) was very welcome.

Iconik offers muffins and coffee-cake options, as well as palm-size giant cookies, but we passed on those. I wished I had seen the not-very-well-placed sign announcing Cobb salad (and yellow-tomato gazpacho) as the day’s specials; I love the one and my guest the other.

We came in the next day to sample coffee, which seemed the least we could do, given that Iconik roasts its own. It was a sweltering afternoon, but my guest opted for cappuccino ($3.75) nonetheless, while I got an iced latte ($4.50). The latte hit the spot: bland with milk, but carrying a caffeine jolt and, mainly, cold! The cappuccino was pronounced very good and we both admired the perfect swirl in its frothy milk top.

We also tried one of Iconik’s very few sweets, a chocolate chocolate-chip cookie ($1.25). That was more than satisfactory, too, very chocolaty and chewy, like a spread-out brownie.

Worth noting: Iconik serves its coffee, as well as its eclectic assortment of teas and a limited menu (breakfast burritos and assorted bagel combos) inside Collected Works Bookstore, 202 Galisteo St.

We wanted lunch, so we went to the original on Lena Street. And there we got people-watching with our meal: the usual row of solo-with-computer folks; and a bevy of young women fresh from the nearby Pilates studio, clad in exercise wear and highly imaginative ink. The counter staff was engaging, the warehouse-like interior nevertheless inviting.

If it hadn’t been so hot, we would have found ourselves on the tree-and-sail-shaded patio instead. There were also interesting people on the steamy afternoon we sampled coffee, including a bevy of young Dutch visitors, more ink-adorned hipsters and a smattering of oldsters like us.

With no food to distract us, we paid more attention to the decor, such as it is. A quirky chandelier of machine parts and paper, another of glass beads. And a coffee-roasting apparatus that looked as if it had come from the dawn of the industrial, as opposed to this post-industrial, age.

A good place to hang out, we concluded, not least because it’s off the tourist path.

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