Open since mid-March, a new Red Velvet Cafe has landed smack dab in the midst of Downtown Hipster Center - the diminutive and busy strip of South Fourth Street already home to Dirty Franks, Little Palace, 16 Bit and El Camino. Red Velvet fits into this bustling neighborhood snugly and seamlessly.

Open since mid-March, a new Red Velvet Cafe has landed smack dab in the midst of Downtown Hipster Center — the diminutive and busy strip of South Fourth Street already home to Dirty Franks, Little Palace, 16 Bit and El Camino. Red Velvet fits into this bustling neighborhood snugly and seamlessly.

The Arctic Monkeys were playing when I stepped into the cute little cafe-cum-sandwich shop sporting brick walls and bouquets of real flowers. Local art graced the walls. Chalkboards bound in frilly, white picture frames announced the stylish place’s menu of impressive coffee drinks (Red Velvet uses One Line Coffee and a lotta single origin stuff), various teas and interesting smoothies.

This is the second branch of family-owned Red Velvet — its predecessor being a Pickerington shop specializing in cupcakes. Unsurprisingly, you’ll find plenty of cupcakes on Fourth Street, but you’ll also find the more-rare fare I came there looking for — panini made with Filipino-style meats.

While I waited about 10 minutes for my sandwiches to arrive, I sipped a refreshing Watermelon Smoothie ($4.50) alive with the fresh pink fruit it was made with. (Note: If you’re smart like me, you’ll get an extra smoothie to go and load it up with booze later at home.)

Both sandwiches came on puffy, thick and OK ciabatta bread that was crisply panini-fied. The tangy chicken adobo ($5.50) was a lotta tender, dark meat chunks awash in that seductive marinade of soy sauce married to vinegar that makes adobo such an easy-to-love classic. The sandwich also had tomato, cheese and mayo, which, frankly, just got in the way and made the sandwich messy.

Ditto for the tomato and gratuitous mayo on the already-rich Bistek ($6.50) sandwich. Basically Red Velvet’s take on a cheesesteak, this one featured unctuous lumps of comforting pot roast-type meat, melted cheese and a few onions. I’d gladly eat either sandwich again (but go easier on the mayo).

Though I’m not the biggest cupcake fan, how could I walk outta there without a couple of Red Velvet’s signature treats? I couldn’t, and if you enjoy hand-cakes that are pretty and sweet, Red Velvet’s are better than most.

Photo by Meghan Ralston