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If you’re jonesing for a cute coffice space with a cute name and cute fixtures and everything that comes with that, including a floor that’s years overdue for being refinished (they’re redoing it this summer), a dozen low small round tables flanked by old padded chairs of varying wobbliness, and your choice of illumination from right-in-the-window to deep in the dark back – though of course there are Art Deco lamps throughout (and there’s a garden when the weather’s good enough), dance over to Tango Palace Coffee Company at Queen and Jones. It’s towards the east side of hipsterville, right next to a pretty little park.
The music leans more to the funky and rocking than to the anodyne – or tango. The washrooms are right on the level, but this is not a place I would try to get a wheelchair into. It’s not noisy but it’s not silent; conversations are common. The most striking feature is certainly the coffee Dalek, a handmade brass-faced robot-looking item that makes the espresso. It sits in front of a mirror with a faint Art Nouveau border. Are you getting the picture? The walls are bare brick but they’re mostly covered with art. On the wall above my left shoulder as I type this is a white-painted dancing figure of a lady, more than half life-size, and not new.
Nothing is new here. The place itself has been around for quite a long time. The paint on the window is well faded. The baristas know a lot of the customers – this is a pretty social and neighbourhoody place – and it’s surprisingly common for people to come in who remember the place from years ago and wanted to come back. (They talk to the barista about this, so that’s how I know.) The business shows no signs of suffering, though. If you don’t have good timing, you may be unable to find a seat. On the other hand, if you do find a seat, you may have lots of fun navigating around the knee-high chair backs that bump each other as they crowd around the tables.
Those tables. They have four chairs each and maybe they have room for four persons’ coffees and side plates. You could fit two computers back to back, battleship-style, if their users were friendly and accommodating. More reasonably they hold your computer and your coffee and cookie. But they’re a bit lower than many. Depending on your size, you may find yourself hunched forward as you work. But the chairs are comfy, at least. And if you have trouble getting a seat, there are several more coffee joints sprawled along the kilometre west of here. And after they close for the day, you can tango on over here, because it’s open later.