Mac Tabby Cat Cafe Review
As the name suggests, Mac Tabby Cat Cafe is a cafe with cats! They have two locations, one in Charlotte and one in Concord. The Concord location is only about 30 minutes from Pfeiffer. While I have only been to the Concord location and will be referring to it in this review, I can assume the Charlotte location holds itself to a similarly high standard based on the praise I’ve heard from other patrons. I’m picky about my cafes, I tend to judge based on food/drink quality, atmosphere, and “Studyability, aka, could I be productive there? Before I even begin, I should mention that my glowing review of Mac Tabby is not because I’m biased because: cats. I’ve been to plenty of cat cafes, and while I won’t mention names, none of them exactly smell lemony fresh. Walking into Mac Tabby to a blast of clean, citrusy smell was not what I was expecting; despite the 12 or 13 cats in the cat area at any given time, the entire cafe stays immaculately clean and always smells good. Neither did the employees at the other places so clearly care so deeply about their jobs and the cats.
Regarding refreshment selection, they have a variety of coffees, sodas, some alcohol for the over 21s, and the generic grocery store tea menu if you’re feeling a bit basic. I found my order first try and stuck to it. An employee recommended their “Lavender dreams” latte with oat milk, and I’m queer, so how could I resist? If I order something with lavender, I want to taste it, and the flavor is good and strong! This goes for all their coffees, sweet, rich, and good strong flavors. Their other beverages, such as lemonade and fancy sodas, are also delicious, so say my (picky) mom and dad! But I am a slave to coffee. All their non-alcoholic drinks run around 4-7 dollars, so average coffee shop prices and well worth it! They have a small selection of sweets like cookies, muffins, and cake pops up at the register, which I have never personally tried, but they do look quality. They also have merch: stickers, pins, earrings, t-shirts, hoodies, etc., which I have bought plenty of, and it is definitely quality!
The atmosphere of Mac Tabby is something I could rave about, and I cannot overstate how nice it is to be in there. With soft, color-changing lights, cozy nooks and crannies, colorful and comfortable seating, genuinely good music playing at a decent volume, and plenty of cat-themed decor, it is a sensory delight without being a sensory overload. It’s hip without being tryhard and modern without being cold or clinical. If for some reason, it's not to your taste, they have a beautiful covered porch that always catches the sun with a view into the cat room. And let's be honest, for all the praise of Mac Tabby’s cafe elements, the real draw is the cats.
The cat room is separate from the rest of the cafe, and they have sessions you can book with the cats to keep from overcrowding. 30 minutes is 8 dollars a person, and 1 hour is 12. And believe me, it is totally worth it and goes by much quicker than you would like! The cat room is just as welcoming as the rest of the cafe, and it's clear that the cats feel happy and safe there as well. Unlike a lot of other cat cafes, and with no criticism towards them, Mac Tabby has no permanent residents. Every single cat you meet, lounging in the sun or batting at your keys, is up for adoption through Princeton’s Meow cat rescue. They come and go frequently, a testament to the rescue’s success, so there’s always someone new to meet! There's a big screen in the corner of the cat room with pictures to tell you who’s who among the cats and a QR code to take you to the website. For the sake of curiosity, I have gone to the website to look at the application process, and it's all super straightforward! If you’re looking for a new furry friend, it's not my place to sway you, but may I recommend Victoria? She’s my absolute favorite, a sweet and sassy older girl who’s been at the Concord location for a while.
Between the coffee, the atmosphere and the cats Mac Tabby is shaping up for a perfect score. In fact the only place I can fault it is in “Study-ability.” It is entirely possible to be productive in Mac Tabby, as mentioned their set up lends itself well to a place to hunch over some homework, and they do have wifi. However, be honest with yourself, if you go to a cat cafe you’re going for the cats. It's much too hard to focus! Case in point, I tried to write this review at Mac Tabby, and I barely wrote a sentence! Do not come to Mac Tabby to try to study, 0/10 “Study-ability” unless you have superhuman self-control! Other than that, this place is 10/10. I can’t stress enough how great the cat part of their cat cafe is. I’ve definitely become somewhat of a regular at Mac Tabby, and it's so fun to get to know the cats and then watch them find their forever homes. If you have a bleeding, sappy lil heart like myself, come on Wednesdays when pickups happen, and adopters get to take their cats home. I feel very strongly about this one, it's one of my favorite places. I’d break the scale for Mac Tabby but seeing as this is my first review, I should probably set a standard: 10/10 and would recommend it. Come find me sitting in the corner with my fruity little coffee petting Victoria! All the praise to Mac Tabby Cat cafe!
Victoria at the Cat Cafe
That time I went to three boba tea cafes in one day
When it came time to write my next review I knew immediately I had to pick a boba tea cafe. The only problem? I couldn’t pick between three. Boba tea has gotten wildly popular in the US in recent years, so much so I dare to call it trendy. For those unfamiliar boba or ball tea (everyone get your giggles out now) is a Taiwanese sweet treat featuring the very loosely defined tea: usually milk or some other flavored beverage, ice and small tapioca pearls, the quintessential boba, or other toppings. Winston Salem probably has more places serving this delicious beverage but the ones I usually go to are Binki cafe, Tiger Tea and Momo Ashi. In an effort to get out of the house and to give them a fair shot I decided to go to all three in one day. So I grabbed my best friend (my dog Roofus) and headed out.
First to Binki cafe. Binki Cafe is definitely the bougiest on the list, with a wide variety of choices and options that feel just a bit fancy. My go to order for instance is the iceland galaxy tea which is a lemon lime concoction with seltzer and pearl flower tea which I order with lychee popping boba. It costs 7.20 a cup, partially my fault as I love the lychee popping boba which itself is 95c extra. The drink is vibrant blue and slightly fizzy and comes with a little rainbow light-up icecube that gives my simple monkey brain endless joy. As I mentioned, Binki easily has the widest choice in menu, with tons of toppings and flavors I haven’t seen offered at other boba locations like my lychee popping boba. Beyond even just the drinks Binki takes it a step further by basically being a full blown restaurant. I try not to go there often as I usually can’t just get tea. With a wide variety of snacks from halo halo and edamame to pork buns (my favorite) and takoyaki. As well as ramen and stir fry. Their ramen is ridiculously good and actually pretty decently priced for ramen. The one place where Binki really fails is in the atmosphere. With all the big windows the place still somehow manages to be dark. Sound travels through the place like crazy and it makes it stay loud. While there are murals on the wall, there is very little other decor amongst the typical restaurant style seating. I don’t really ever want to linger in Binki which unfortunately is major marks against it in my books.
Next on the list, not far up the road from Binki is Tiger Tea. Tiger Tea was the last of the three in this review that I tried and I will confess I’ve been there the least so it’s harder to pass consistent judgment. However, both times I have been, they have been very quality. My go-to order is a Brown sugar boba milk tea with coco, rich, chocolate and loaded with warm syrupy brown sugar goodness, trust me they do not skimp on the boba, which costs about 6.00. A unique mark in their favor is their speed, both times I’ve been they have been super quick getting my drink to me, impressively so as they have also been relatively busy. Their menu is decently sized with a good variety of drinks and a few sweet treats, not really on the menu just available as long as they last, coffee shop style. Their set up is classy, with neat options for seating and is well lit. Overall, I would say that Tiger Tea is very solid.
I have to confess my personal bias for the next cafe. Momo Ashi is the oldest of the three locations so I’ve been going there the longest. I have a lot of good memories there; it's one of my go to spots to write and I have written many a chapter of bad fanfiction at the lovely bar seating by the windows. Their menu has a good variety, lots of options for flavors and non boba drink options but not a lot of toppings. They have a lot of snacks too, sweet ones like their signature “Wa-mochi,'' which is mochi dough (a very chewy dough, often made with rice flour) in a waffle-maker. It’s a sweet and textural experience and I’m not going to lie, I always have to order one, the earl grey is my favorite. They also have marshmallow toast and some savory options like paninis and onigiri, and sometimes takoyaki which is absolutely delicious but sells out very fast when it comes on the menu. My order usually gets a bit expensive as I order a large coconut boba tea with brown sugar boba, rich and syrupy and reminds me of an almond joy, an imitation crab onigiri (or takoyaki if they have them) and the previously mentioned earl grey wa-mochi. All of this comes out to about 17.00 plus a tip. Despite my fondness for this place I will confess that though the snack quality never dips, sometimes the drink quality does, the boba can be overcooked and sometimes the mixes just taste off, like the ratios are off or something. However, when it is good it is really good. The atmosphere is what makes Momo Ashi, it's so light and airy, everything is bright white and pink and the mascots which are a cute stylized dog and cat (Momo and Ashi respectively) are all over everything. The employees get to choose the music and you can tell, you never know what you’re going to hear and they’re always singing along and laughing, the sweetest people work at that location and they always make my day. Maybe it's nostalgia blinding me but Momo Ashi is easily the location where I want to spend the most time.
Overall I’d say Tiger Tea comes out the most even with a solid 9/10, good atmosphere and good drinks, lacks snacks but points for efficiency! Binki comes out at 8/10, 10/10 on the food and beverages alone but it loses major points for me when it comes to atmosphere, maybe it will be more to your taste but I wouldn’t recommend planning to spend non-eating time there until you’ve seen so for yourself. Momo Ashi also comes out at 8/10, unfortunately due to a lack of consistency, the atmosphere alone is definitely worth a visit. As far as “Studyability” and, well, “Writing-for-pleasure-ability” goes I can personally attest it's the best of the bunch. I would recommend you check out all of these, no matter which seems the most appealing to you! I happen to love them all despite any criticism and will undoubtedly continue spending my money there on the weekends if I ever financially recover from going to all three in one day.