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Lakeview Brew 

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Lakeview Brew Coffee Cafe (5606 Canal Blvd., 483-7001; www.lakeviewbrew.com) satisfies more than just caffeine cravings. An outdoor patio hosts wine tastings and poetry readings while the cafe's interior, bedecked with work by local artists, is reminiscent of a small-town pie shop.

  Owner and Lakeview native Randy Porobil takes pride in providing friendly ambience to Lakeview residents. "Our customers have come to feel like they're family," Porobil says. Concerned by Lakeview's slow comeback following the 2005 federal levee failures, she began transforming a former gas station into a restaurant in June 2007. The coffee cafe opened in January 2008 and has since become established as a comfortable neighborhood hangout. "My main goal was to give people good coffee, fresh food and a meeting place," Porobil says.

  The kitchen provides an array of homemade pastries, gourmet sandwiches, salads and soups, as well as a variety of hot and cold beverages. A menu of fresh, homemade items is capable of satisfying a sweet tooth or an appetite for something savory.

  The cafe's wide selection of desserts includes the "Million Dollar Pie." With a fluffy but rich taste, the confection lives up to its name: a pillowy mixture of whipped cream, pieces of mandarin orange and nuts top a graham cracker crust. For a savory experience, customers can sample a specialty sandwich, such as the Lakeview Brew club. Piled high with bacon, oven-roasted turkey, smoked ham, American cheese, romaine lettuce and tomato, this triple-decker creation is served on toast. Flavorful meals, a knowledgeable staff and welcoming vibe have made the eatery a Lakeview staple, filling a neighborhood void that was not only gustatory, but also social.

  "People have gotten re-acquainted with each other here, and that's what I was after," Porobil says.

Baristas Alex Cook (left) and Brittany Judice serve up coffee, meals and dessert at Lakeview Brew.

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