Paradocs was hiding in plain sight. I'd probably been by it a million times, but somehow its tiny storefront never made it into the fabric of my memory of Little Ethiopia. It's not a surprise really, taking into consideration its inconspicuous, non-illuminating sign on a street that glitters with neon and twinkle lights that beckon you to feast on injera and doro wat. Paradocs keeps a low profile, quietly delighting its regulars with lovingly crafted coffee and a warm, comfortable place to sit. You can imagine my delight upon stumbling upon this little haven, located on a street so familiar to me I thought I could sketch it perfectly from memory. There it was, tucked between Buna Ethiopian Market and a men's clothing store, so narrow and modest that I had managed to look right past it all these years.
Inside, the tiny cafe space is crammed with antique-style furniture, a cozy retreat perfect for spending an hour or two away from reality. Behind the counter, owner Taka (who is somewhat legendary amongst Yelpers for his love of his craft), happily serves up caffeination and pleasant conversation, chatting with his customers like they're old friends. On a busy Saturday, it's a prime people-watching spot - if you can snag a table. A lot of folks come here for the matcha, as Taka is praised for his creative and skillful use of the green tea powder in lattes, cookies, brownies, and croissants.
As tempting as all the beautiful house-made treats were, I managed to stay focused and ordered my classic cappuccino. Served up in a tall glass mug (as Taka and I discussed, there's something really comforting about drinking out of a real mug rather than a paper cup), this was by far the biggest cappuccino I've come across. So large, in fact, I wondered for a while if Taka had mistakenly made me a latte instead. Under all that milk and foam, however, was a delightful espresso that was rich, nutty, and flavorful. To finish it off, there was a delicate touch of latte art like a little feather resting on top.
While this was not my favorite cappuccino (there was just too much milk for my taste), it is obvious that Paradocs is a beloved institution with many devoted followers. The appeal here is clear: who wouldn't love a humble and sincere café tucked into one of the busiest streets in the city, run by a man who is dedicated and passionate about coffee and tea? Paradocs is definitely worth a visit - I know I'll be back soon to nab one of those mouthwatering matcha pastries!
Paradocs Coffee & Tea
1032 S Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019