Screw fall. None of this autumn leaf and pumpkin patch romanticism for me—it’s gray and drizzly and one big depressing downward spiral into winter. Rushing through downtown to avoid the rapidly plummeting temperature and the onset of seasonal affective disorder, I almost missed this tiny, unassuming new cart. But huddled under a rickety old cafe umbrella, I met another young woman saying “screw fall” by brewing up delicious, comforting teas gathered from her travels throughout Asia—spicy, fragrant Indian chai ($2.25), salty Tibetan butter tea ($2.50), aromatic, umami-rich Japanese matcha green tea ($2.25) and the creamy, complex tea-coffee blend of Hong Kong-style yuanyang ($2.50). It’s not all completely authentic—cocoa powder is a surprisingly delicious optional addition, and the Tibetan tea (thankfully) isn’t made from yak butter—but the cooking method is charmingly old school, with each individual cup made to order in well-weathered saucepans on a little two-burner stove. Yes, you will have to wait, and it’s cold and damp, and there’s no wi-fi, but watching your brew bubble away as the warm scent of exotic spices tempers the crisp air, fall doesn’t seem so bad after all.
- Best bite: Cinnamon chai ($2.25)—add some cocoa for 50 cents. I won’t tell.
- Cheapest bite: Cute housemade cookies and pastries ($1-$1.50) are actually cheaper than the drinks here, but just as tasty.
GO: Chai Chuski, Southwest 5th Avenue and Morrison Street. 10:30 am-2:15 pm Monday-Friday. $ Inexpensive. Cash only.