212 Pier: A Coffee House for Insomniacs and Workaholics

Vegan chocolate whoopee pie at 212 Pier. (Photo: C.C.)
Vegan chocolate whoopie pie at 212 Pier. (Photo: C.C.)

212 Pier is the coffee house for insomniacs and workaholics in Los Angeles. It’s one of the few in the city that doesn’t ignore the pretty significant faction of folks who burn the midnight oil.

The coffee house used to be open 24 hours; now it closes at 2 a.m. It’s still late by L.A. standards, especially on the Westside. (This is after all a city that shuts down most of its operations, bars and all, by 1:30 a.m.) So it’s a bonus to have the coffee house in the area as an alternative for those nights you either have too much work or just want to capitalize on your night owl tendencies.

212 Pier only gets busier as the night goes on with a steady stream of people waiting for one of the tiled patio tables inside. The crowd will begin to taper off an hour to 90 minutes before close. If you’re there solo and find yourself in a sea of occupied spots, it wouldn’t hurt to ask someone if you can share his/her table. You’ll more than likely be welcomed to join.

The coffee house appears to be a combination of two store fronts with a loft space in the back. On a colder night, the latter option might seem more inviting, toastier in part from the rising heat of the back kitchen. The problem is that the heat from breakfast as dinner cooking in the back kitchen can bring with it a layer of smoke. The menu goes well past breakfast and covers a range of diet preferences. The specials might include a grilled wild salmon plate and there might be samosas or vegan chocolate whoopie pies in the pastry case.

Outlets can be found near the walls, sometimes tucked in the shelves of large bookcases flanking either side of each room. The bookshelves are stacked with dogeared paperbacks and hardcovers. This along with mismatched furniture plus a motley collection of art gives the coffee house a certain bohemian bent.

212 Pier: 212 Pier Avenue, Santa Monica; (310) 314-5275. [map]

Ambiance: Mostly quiet with occasional chatter.
Amenities: A loft space that traps hot air. Reliable password-protected wifi. Outlets here and there. Tall bookshelves filled with hardcover and paperback fiction line the walls in the two-room café.
Drink/Food: A  pretty comprehensive hot food menu, complete with a $5 section, that includes breakfast entrees, pastas, Indian dishes, salads and specials. Bottled beverages from komucha to obscure sodas. The pastry case is filled with some classic coffee house favorites like a massive chocolate cake sliced for two and some more atypical ones like vegan whoopie pies and samosas.