I just got word that Counter Culture Cafe, the indie eatery and caffeine peddler to the downtown arts crowd, has closed. Originally located in a freestanding building on McDowell, the cafe reopened last year inside The Paper Heart, the Grand Avenue gallery/bar/performance venue. In a downtown that can use a hell of a lot more cafes, the demise of Counter Culture is unfortunate.
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But thankfully, there's still refreshment to be found in that hood. Just up the street, there's Paisley Violin, a tiny cafe that serves sandwiches, salads, and other light fare (1028 Grand); Bikini Lounge, one of Phoenix's premier hipster dive bars (1502 Grand); The Trunk Space, an eclectic gallery/performance space with an espresso bar; and Mel's Diner, the greasy spoon that inspired the TV show Alice, which made "Kiss my grits!" into an early '80s catchphrase (1747 Grand).