When you think of the word coffeehouse, a little voice inside your head probably screams "pretentious!" It might call to mind a skinny hippie with dreadlocks, bad hygiene and equally bad and embarrassing poetry. Or perhaps you’re imagining a sensitive singer-songwriter, acoustic guitar in tow, who fancies himself the new John Mayer – but is really just a Hollywood Boulevard street performer waiting to happen. Put the little voices and stereotypes aside because Highland Grounds is a cool but unassuming venue that deserves your dollar, and maybe even your ear.

Highland Grounds is one of Los Angeles’ oldest coffeehouses – meaning it’s as ancient as the ’90s, when the coffeehouse idea was big. Dine and hang inside at their newly built bar, acquired when the Grounds secured a full liquor license, or – take note, smokers – outside on the patio where you can huddle around a courtyard fire pit on chillier nights. Bright murals adorn the walls and counter, where you might find a handful of the dozens of friendly regulars.

The Grounds’ standout feature is its regular rotation of quality local musicians and artists. Performers come out Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays on the petite indoor stage, playing mostly unplugged sets of folky rock and pop. Thursday’s open mic is the most popular event. Called "Open Mind," it’s known for taking on a politically charged tone. The best performers on Open Mind night are specially selected for the Grounds’ list of regular acts. Their recent musical entertainment includes local musician Arrica Rose and Supafloss.

Specifically known as one of the best inexpensive brunch spots around, the Grounds serves "health food" that’s appealing without being too granola-ish. Beyond the expected coffee (bonus: lattes and cappuccinos are free every morning until noon) and trifles, the breakfast menu offers a tofu scramble, the desayuno fuerte (eggs over potato pancakes), and the scrumptious "breakfast pizzas" straight from their wood-burning oven. Lunch and dinner feature a number of Mexican dishes plus an array of sandwiches, salads and burgers. Visitors also rave about its surprisingly extensive beer selection.

With all the pretentious restaurants, cafes and whatevers already in existence in Los Angeles, visit the coffeehouse where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad … well, you know. Strong coffee, awesome food and some chill background music make for a decent night – or morning – out anytime.

Highland Grounds is located at 742 N. Highland Ave., a half-block from Melrose (not on the corner), in Los Angeles. Hours: Mon-Fri 10 a.m.-midnight, Sat 9 a.m.-1 a.m. and Sun 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Limited parking in back; street parking available. For more information, visit www.highlandgrounds.com.