Tucked away on Chestnut Avenue in Hampden is a place where can get a handcrafted latte while the kids race matchbox cars, star in a puppet show, or indulge in creative play at the train table. And if they run back and forth to your table to grab a few banana slices or a bite of their grilled cheese, no one will bat an eye.
Welcome to Play Cafe. A cafe, coffee house, and interactive creative play space — all in one!
The neighborhood gem is well-loved by locals and a favorite destination of parents seeking a few minutes of uninterrupted coffee enjoyment.
“We’ve been here three times already this week,” grinned Katie, Hampden mom to two under three.
Best part? The food is not-your-standard-kid variety. Get a roasted beet and goat cheese salad, artisan sandwich, or freshly steeped hot tea from their selection of gourmet tea bar. Indulge your inner kiddo and get a grown-up fluffernutter.
The cafe is a bright, cheerful space where both the decor and the food plays homage to the vintage quirkiness that defines the neighborhood. Right down to the storybook page-covered counter. Owners Kathy Schott and her business partner/neighbor Ryan Sterner want it to feel like you are walking into a neighbor’s house.
Luckily, that neighbor just happens to be a fabulous cook.
Whether you’re craving a waffle topped with strawberries and cream, bagel with lox, scrambled eggs, or fresh muffin , Play Cafe has a enticing breakfast menu with something that will please everyone palate in the family.
mid-morning coffee with the girls
Around 10 AM, you’ll find groups of moms catching up over lattes and hot cups of tea. One keeps an eye on the kiddos in the play space over her friend’s shoulder. Once in a while, someone will check out of the conversation to walk over and help tie a shoe or mediate a ‘he took my toy’ disagreement. But the drinks and laughter are always warm — and the coffee is always topped off.
story time and lunch
Every Monday and Wednesday, Play Cafe offers free toddler and preschool programming. Morning Mumbles with Danny Joe happens on Mondays at 10 AM. Using simple hand puppets and everyday materials, Danny Joe performs stories from well-known children’s books, which children and adults can later recreate at home. Destination Doug happens on Wednesdays at 10 AM. Doug takes kids on a reading adventure using music, movement, finger plays, and well-loved picture books.
Not there on a Monday or Wednesday? You can always choose your own reading adventure right off the shelf.
Lunchtime means TV Dinner time at Play Cafe! (Actually, you can get the TV Dinner Tray any time). Kids can create their own lunch from a selection of kid-friendly fruits, veggies and snacks (think apple slices, cheese, yogurt, hummus, carrot sticks) and Play Cafe will serve it TV tray style. Perfect for toddlers! Older kids can opt for a half-sandwich. Nutella and strawberries, turkey and cheese, PB&J — they have all of the pint-sized favorites.
The cafe is open until 5 pm on weekdays, so it’s a great place to stop after school for a fruit smoothie and quick game of checkers (you can play them right on the table!). And if it’s one of those crazy days when dinner seems impossible, take dinner to go.
Note: There is a nominal $5 food and beverage minimum to play. Play Cafe will be open late during the holiday season for all of those going to see the lights on 34th Street. So be sure to stop by and warm-up with a cup of cocoa! … and if you’re looking for a fun space to hold your next birthday party? Yes. They do parties, too.
3400 Chestnut Street
Baltimore, MD 21211
Hours: Monday-Friday 8 AM -5 PM, Saturday and Sunday 8 AM – 3 PM