Mexican hot chocolate, purple walls, and thou

At first glance, Zona Rosa Caffe looks like just another storefront to grab a cup of joe before a show at the Pasadena Playhouse. But follow the narrow staircase up to the sun-dappled living room and you’ll find all the fixings for a leisurely couple of hours curled up with a good novel (there is no WiFi here, so quiet conversations tend to overrule laptops). Day of the Dead banners hover like laundered handkerchiefs above sofas and chairs draped with serapes. Paintings by local artists hang on the walls, and a community chessboard and other board games hint that lingering is encouraged. The coffee is good and strong, but those in the know opt for the out-of-this-world Mexican hot chocolate.

I love Zona Rosa for a quiet escape, but I’ve always wanted to check it out on Thursday nights, when food trucks line El Molino Ave. and there’s live music in the alley next door. (Through November…6 to 11 p.m.)

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