In an era when restaurants are scientifically engineered to turn tables as rapidly as possible, the relaxed atmosphere at Perk is deeply satisfying, as are the items on the revamped menu.Like unicorns and yeti, places like Perk on Pennsylvania aren’t supposed to actually exist. This family-run, neighborhood café is a place where the staff greets people by name and patrons are allowed—nay, encouraged—to hang about at their leisure and read books, work on their theses, or check into Facebook using the free wi-fi while sipping on freshly ground, locally roasted coffee. In an era when restaurants are scientifically engineered to turn tables as rapidly as possible, the relaxed atmosphere at Perk is deeply satisfying, as are the items on the revamped menu. Owner Matt firmly believes “sloppy food is the best kind of food” and has the goods to back it up, so you’ll want to roll up your sleeves before diving into their heaping bowls of homemade green chili and reuben sandwiches whose gooeyness is run-down-your-elbows good.
Those who haven’t been to Perk on Pennsylvania in the last four months are in for a surprise as they enter. When Matt took the reigns from his daughter Summer, he made the place his own, changing its name from Penn Street Perk and remodeling the space into its new open, bright configuration. He also decided to go big all around, offering a staggering 32 oz. cup of coffee that would make a Big Gulp blush and stacking his sandwiches with meats piled high enough to please east coast deli aficionados. Not one to rest on his laurels, Matt also installed a pizza oven in the back for the sole purpose of toasting your sandwich to crusty, golden perfection. If that ain’t love, we don’t know what is.
While Matt, whose ironwork sculptures dapple the café, works hard in the kitchen, his other daughters Amanda and Cherise sling an assortment of teas and coffee drinks behind the counter. The word on the street is they can froth up a cappuccino in sixteen seconds flat, so bring your stopwatch and watch them whip it good. Don’t forget to ask them about Perks’ perks: every eighth cup is free, which makes each sip a little sweeter.
Molly Brown (turkey, pesto,and cheese on a roll), $7.95
Lucky Lox (open faced bagel with salmon, cream cheese, and capers), $7.95
Reuben sandwich, $7.95
French Dip sandwich, $7.95
Green Chili Bowl, $4.95
Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.