April 21 2015 05:08 PM

Halcyon & Stella Public House light up East Village

A Halcyon morning.
Photo by Ron Donoho

East Village deserves any oasis it can get. Sister restaurants Halcyon and Stella Public House are beautiful respites that must seem like conjoined mirages.

Airy and cheerful despite gritty surroundings, the spots are collectively billed as a modern coffeehouse/cocktail lounge. They opened late last year, and take up 3,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor space at the corner of 14th Street and Island Avenue. 

Out back is a construction zone. One of two 40-floor high-rises is nearly topped out, and a park is being built on the lot. Since the land sits on an active fault line, some propose this area be named Fault Line Park. I'd play there.

Halcyon serves the morning crowd. Breakfast items are inexpensive, and include fritatas and waffles. A fried-egg sandwich with bacon, avocado, cheddar cheese and tomato is $6.50. For $7, try the delicious avocado-smooshed toast; it's an avocado smear on house-made bread topped with chili flakes, onion and tomato. 

Stella Public House opens daily at 5 p.m. The chain has its origins in Texas, and features a San Antonio-based farm-to-pizza concept. The produce is organic, the tomatoes are grown in California and fresh mozzarella is hand-pulled every day.

Overseeing the pizza pie operation is Giovanni Novella, who previously manned the kitchen at Isola Pizza Bar in Little Italy. At Stella, he's firing up a Forno Bravo Moderna oven, burning pecan and oak wood, and serving the likes of lamb meatball and mac 'n' cheese pies.

The real treat comes outside on a 1,500 square-foot patio, lined with tables, Adirondack chairs and couches. Here is where you can make your own s'mores. Patrons get a flaming Sterno pot and wood skewers, along with a dish of marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey bars. It's $6, or $9 for a party of four.

For an all-out sugar rush, mix your s'mores with chocolate espresso martinis (Stoli vanilla vodka, chocolate Godiva liqueur and house espresso). Plan on sleeping in the next morning.

Write to rond@sdcitybeat.com.