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Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse - the sequel (or is it the refill) - you decide

Red Emma's at its new location
Red Emma's at its new location
Laura Melamed

Giant windows were the first thing I noticed when I passed by the new Red Emma’s. In a rush to get somewhere, I whizzed by, caught a glimpse of tall book cases and wondered what random establishment had situated itself on the corner of North and Maryland. It wasn’t a library, I knew, because I didn’t see any wizards - or librarians, for that matter, either.

It didn’t seem quite like a book store because there was a lot of open space.

Was it a coffee shop?

I turned and looked back.

“Oh Red Emma’s,” I realized out loud “At the new location.”

Red Emma’s opened up at 30 W. North Ave. at the end of November and today I finally got there for a very late lunch.

The new space was vast, compared to the former basement spot that had four tables, a counter and a crowded book nook in the corner.

Now Red Emma’s has twenty-two tables and a laptop bar. Although the bookcases reach the ceiling they are much more spread out than at the old location. There’s a tempting sale table and behind the sale table is the spot that houses the vegan cookbooks which are, at the moment, regular price.

The large Banh Mi Chay salad, Red Emma’s take on a classic Vietnamese dish, was a fairly good deal at $7. I realized I probably should have gotten the small, because my dinner plate was really piled up in a heaping tower of red cabbage, carrots, cilantro, soy mayo, hot sauce, spinach and lemongrass tofu. I managed to carry it to my table across the room along with my $3 “cup” of zucchini garbanzo bean soup, (which was actually served in a bowl) without spilling a drop.

I sat at a high table by an immense window and read Red Emma’s copy of Generation V: the Complete Guide to Going, Being and Staying Vegan as a Teenager, by Claire Askew, while I ate.

As a vegetarian, I haven’t made the leap to vegan but I thought if I could eat the Banh Mi Chay salad for every meal, maybe I could.

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