By Gabrielle Massé
It was with apprehension that I pulled up to Sleeping Moon Café, the local hole in the wall about which several people had raved to me. The café’s nondescript location on Aloma Avenue had somehow baffled the GPS in my phone, which had sent me driving in circles. Nevertheless, the rumblings I had heard about this great local café made me persevere. One of my new favorite places to eat in the Orlando area turned out to be well worth the trouble.
As soon as I walked in, I fell in love with the atmosphere of Sleeping Moon Café. The walls are covered in work made by local artists. In fact, as I sat down with my date, I spotted a young female artist working on a canvas in the back of the room. A scented candle burned on our table and a decorative tree, covered in fairy lights, hung over our heads. The lighting was low, and the atmosphere is perfect for a romantic low-key date or a night out with close friends. Sitting near us was a group celebrating a birthday.
The food was everything you could ask for in a café: fresh, cheap, healthy, and delicious. I opted for an apple turkey panini with pineapple chutney, which more than lived up to its ticket price under 10 dollars. In addition to the many appetizing paninis, wraps, and soups available, Sleeping Moon offers a variety of unique coffees and teas. I opted for a sugary-sweet holiday latte while my companion tried a spicy and sweet Thai iced tea. Other options include the “Hunny Bee” iced tea with water, lemon, black tea, and honey; and the “Turkish Desert Rose Latte” with rose extract, homemade ginger syrup, and vanilla.
Owner Raihan Preston opened the café just three years ago, inspired by the Turkish courtyard cafés where she grew up. Beyond the delicious food and drinks, the true appeal of Sleeping Moon is the sense of community and creativity it fosters. It was built to support local artists and musicians, and it would not be the same without them. There is live entertainment almost every night, from local musicians to spoken-word artists to open mic nights. Although we came to the café on a random weeknight, we were delighted by the surprise of a local musician, Purple Kloud, who performed a mixture of acoustic guitar, folk, rap, and spoken word before running off to do a hip-hop show.
The beauty of Sleeping Moon Café truly lies in the creative vision that motivates everything it does. But even though what it does is truly worth the drive, with food and entertainment that are more than competitive in quality and price, what makes Sleeping Moon unique is the mentality that drives it – the reasons why it does what it does. Whether you’re stopping in for lunch or coffee to do some work on your laptop or even looking for a unique date night, Sleeping Moon Café will get your creative brain moving and inspire you.