Back to the Grind
3575 University Avenue
Back to the Grind is an open-minded
) coffee house in the heart of old towne Riverside, California
. Located a half block from both the Riverside library and the world famous Mission Inn, this coffee house is surprisingly low-key and uncommercialized. Although Back to the Grind caters to the gay and lesbian community, many straight people frequent the establishment as well.
Since the coffee house caters openly to the gay and lesbian community, you'll find (not to stereotype) a very colorful atmosphere. There's a gigantic bookshelf lining an entire wall of the interior, where I've found the Iliad and several of Rush Limbaugh's books (the employees are not without a sense of humor, apparently.) There are several couches and computer terminals to sit at, but I opt for the coffee tables; which are painted by local artists (which is actually really well done). The walls themselves are forest green trimmed with gold and the ceiling is a textured, guilded tilework. More local paintings adorn the walls and the loft, along with a fake Rembrandt, for some reason. There are tables in the front and rear of the house itself, where you can escape to have a smoke.
On weekends, you might find a three piece jazz band (featuring a xylophone player); or you may bear witness to a punk show. Back to the Grind is a bastion of the punk/liberal community, so there is much activism to be found amongst the normal customers. You can find free copies of Peace News, the Harbinger, and Riverside's own poetry magazine, of whose name I've presently forgotten.
The most impressive attraction, however, is the underground art gallery. The basement of the coffeehouse has been converted to/cleared out for an art gallery Open most nights, the gallery features local artists of all genres: graffiti, abstract, photography, mixed media, sculpture.
Back to the Grind serves edibles at an affordable price, despite to the affluent community it is enveloped in. The menu:
Excellent coffee and tea (I recommend the chai)
Fantabulous stuffed croissants (ham and cheese, turkey and cheese etc.)
Sandwich/Soup of the Day
Mediocre slices of pizza
Pastries of all kinds (I recommend the Smore brownie)
The Italian soda (my favorite).
The Italian soda, for those who haven’t had one, has a bite akin to ginger ale (it's made of seltzer water) with the sweetness of whipped cream and a fruit syrup. It comes in a variety of flavors, the best of which is strawberry or kiwi. A large with whipped cream will run you $2.75US.
If you're a resident or just visiting the Inland Empire, Back to the Grind is a place you definitely can't go wrong checking out.
I just thought - ya might want to mention Mel the Tarot Card Reader on fridays. He's been there most fridays for the past 6 years and he's free!