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Buena Vista Coffee: A tasty touch of Hollywood in the Mexican War Streets

With its rich chocolate walls, eclectic vintage furniture, sun-dappled window seats and prime corner spot in the North Side's Mexican War Streets--where young families take weekend walks and students contemplate art over iced Americanos--Buena Vista Coffee feels like a silver screen version of a neighborhood cafe.

Squint your eyes and Anne Hathaway is pulling espresso shots in the corner. Wait for the release of Love and Other Drugs, and you won't have to squint.

The Edward Zwick production, also starring Jake Gyllenhaal, filmed all over Pittsburgh last year, including at Buena Vista Coffee (Hathaway's character works at the coffee shop, and a steamy love scene was shot just around the block). Buena Vista's owners liked the space's Hollywood set decoration makeover so much that they kept much of it intact.

The interiors may be Tinseltown, but what Buena Vista serves is homespun goodness. Shallary Boss, who owns the place with husband Brent Boss, makes simply decadent baked goods that crumble when they're meant to crumble, melt when they're meant to melt, and go great with an ice cream-and-espresso affogato in the summer. After seven years at Uptown Coffee in Mt. Lebanon, Shallary--a Dormont native who now lives in Lower Lawrenceville--jumped on the opportunity to open her own cafe in the former space of Beleza. Shallary had never spent much time on the North Side before opening Buena Vista Coffee, but now can't get enough of her adopted neighborhood. She says it's a "unique part of the city" full of more foreign languages and out-of-state license plates than any other part of Pittsburgh.

Beleza closed in spring of 2009, and Shallary opened Buena Vista Coffee around Christmas 2009.

Named for its location (1501 Buena Vista St.), Buena Vista serves Commonplace Coffee from Indiana County, and a limited though ever-changing menu of treats such coffee cake, banana bread, muffins and cookies, including oatmeal ones loaded with sunflower seeds, cranberries, raisins and apples. Wi-Fi is free, and WYEP is the soundtrack of choice.

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Writer: Caralyn Green
Sources: Shallary and Brent Boss, Buena Vista Coffee

Photograph copyright Caralyn Green

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