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The Living Room
5900 El Cajon Boulevard,
College Area
(619) 286-8434

Sick of hoarse whispering in the library? Falling asleep dredge something new out of Aristophanes' Lysistrata? Pick up your books! Leave the library! Depart the campus! Head for the most productive study-garden this side of Elysian Fields. There are four Living Rooms in the county, but the first and best is the one in College Area. Inside, it's low-ceilinged, woody, with Persian carpets on the floor, chunky ancient tables, and lots of art and real antiques. The patio sits under sheltering trees, quaint lights, protective hedges, rosy well-worn tiles, wrought-iron bistro tables with gray marble tops, long tables with benches. Pick one of these, under the big-leaf fig tree from India. Get a coffee -- $1.55 house (50 cent refills), $2.80 Turkish -- and spread out your textbooks. Now you're learning: Atmosphere is everything. "We used to hang out in places like this after school in Zurich," says Ralph Koenig, the Swiss owner. "I thought people might appreciate it here." (Open 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., seven days.)

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