7 Oct

A friend of ours recently asked why we don’t have any Financial District posts, to which we responded that we have a lot of trouble finding a good place downtown. Most establishments downtown specialize in shuffling large numbers of people through during the lunch hour (if they have chairs at all), so few places are a good spot for longterm laptopping. We are super excited about the new Coffee Bar coming to the area, but in the meantime, we tend to end up at Specialty’s.

Specialty's on Pine (and Montgomery)

Specialty's on Pine (and Montgomery)

In general, we try to avoid chain coffee shops, but as far as chains go, Specialty’s isn’t too bad. Some of the locations have ample seating and good internet connections. The spot at Pine and Montgomery even has a nice outdoor seating area. They are super tech savvy, from iPads for ordering on-location to an online sandwich builder to a warm cookie radar.  (Even if you don’t use the warm cookie radar, always ask which ones are straight out the oven. They are epically more delicious.)

Pluses: lots of locations around the Financial District (though not all have seating)

Minuses: it’s a chain, no outlets

A couple of their locations with seating:


5 Oct

Ever wanted to take a cable car to a coffee shop? Well then Nook is your spot. Right along the Powell-Hyde cable car line, Nook is a cozy cafe and wine bar with a large menu.

Fruit and granola at Nook

Fruit and granola at Nook

Despite offering internet, there aren’t many other people using laptops at Nook. The clientele leans a bit toward the leisurely lunch crowd, but they’re friendly to the laptop set too. There are a few tables outside, so on nice days you can wave at the tourists riding by.

Sangria Mondays

Sangria Mondays

Pluses: a lot of food options, happy hour

Minuses: internet is limited to 7am-5pm on weekdays (none on holidays or weekends), it can be crowded, and have you seen how expensive cable car rides are?

Modern Coffee

22 Sep

Heading across the bay to Oakland, Modern Coffee is right by the 12th Street BART station on the ground floor of Tribune Tower. Modern Coffee is a good name for this place; its hip feel is a stark contrast to the historic building it sits in.

Modern Coffee in Oakland

Modern Coffee in Oakland

This small spot gets busy in waves as downtown Oakland workers seem to take their coffee breaks on the same schedule. If you can grab a table during a lull, however, it’s a good place to get some work done with a good cup of coffee.

Modern Coffee serves several local craft coffee brands, including Sightglass, FourBarrel, and Ecco Caffe, but their prices are reasonable ($3 for a latte). They even offer more than one espresso option at a time, which is rare. They don’t have much food, but you can stave off your hunger with a bagel.

Pluses: San Francisco hipster coffee at Oakland prices

Minuses: small, not many tables, not much food

Nervous Dog

19 Sep

Nervous Dog is a rather unassuming coffee shop at the foot of Bernal Hill (within the borders of La Lengua, according to some). It’s a common spot for laptopers and working meetings; on a recent visit, Lunch & Laptop sat next to a small group planning their next indie movie. The decor isn’t remarkable, but it feels like a lived-in local spot, with flyers on the bulletin board and a bookshelf for perusal.

Nervous Dog

Nervous Dog

Nervous Dog serves two kinds of chai, breakfasty foods, bagels, smoothies, and of course, coffee. There are small tables as well as a couch, and there a couple of outlets are along the wall.

Sadly health department regulations mean that dogs are no longer allowed inside, so your nervous (or anxiety-free) pup has to stay outside.

Pluses: homey atmosphere, easy to get a table

Minuses: the menu is more geared toward breakfast (all day) than lunch

Cole Valley Cafe

16 Sep

Cole Valley Cafe is just barely in Cole Valley (just one block up from Haight Street, some may argue it’s Haight-Ashbury instead). Regardless, it’s just a quick skip on the N-Judah to this spot west of Buena Vista Park, where the skies may be cloudy but the sandwiches are giant.

salami sandwich

Salami Sandwich at Cole Valley Cafe

The food menu at Cole Valley Cafe isn’t going to blow anyone away with its creativity, aside from a few Mediterranean specials. But the sandwiches are delightfully large and surprisingly tasty, especially for a list that sounds so basic.

On days when the sun does manage to peek out in Cole Valley, the handful of outdoor tables here are in high demand. Inside, you’ll find an assortment of square and round tables (the round ones are a little small if you’re sharing with a friend), a pretty painted menu board, and plenty of people working and studying. Several tables along the perimeter of the room have outlets nearby, and there’s a little box attached to a pole near the counter that claims to allow patrons to choose the music.

cole valley cafe

Inside Cole Valley Cafe

Pluses: good sandwiches that are also a good value, plenty of coffee and chai specials

Minuses: $5 credit card minimum, wifi can be spotty (and will remind you every so often to buy another drink — but of course, we advocate doing that anyway)


12 Sep

Lunch and Laptop first discovered Haus by thinking it was Sugarlump. Lucky for everyone, though, this little coffee shop a few blocks from the 24th Street BART stop has a personality all its own.

The light, unfinished-wood furniture is simple and a bit Ikea-esque but makes the interior feel roomy and bright. But the real reason Haus caught our eye is the back patio. It takes some finagling to get a shady table (despite a few umbrellas, the space is fairly exposed and that darn sun keeps moving), and patrons occasionally get treated to the crowing of a backyard rooster somewhere nearby, but it’s a great place to sit for a bit and pretend that San Francisco has a summer.

haus patio

Back patio at Haus

When we first started going to Haus, there wasn’t much lunch to go along with all the laptop, but they’ve since cycled through treats including baked goods and savory pies. It may not be the most substantial meal you’ll ever eat while working, but there’s always enough to tide us over.

Pluses: Plenty of outlets inside, nice patio,  solid coffee and espresso drinks

Minuses: Occasional odd and ear-splittingly loud music choices, limited food

The Creamery

23 Aug

The Creamery sits right across from San Francisco’s main Caltrain station, and as such, it’s a popular place for commuters to grab a coffee or snack on the go. But it’s also a great place to hang out mid-day with a tasty sandwich, a good cup of coffee, and plenty of other workers doing just the same.

The Creamery

Outside The Creamery

The Creamery’s extensive food menu is a definite strength: hot and cold sandwiches, sweet and savory crepes, and plenty of breakfast items. (The Creamery is also connected to a taqueria called Iron Cactus, should you want to put the laptop aside for a second and grab a burrito.) The inside is all wood beams and windows, but there’s also a sunny patio out front, where a few big umbrellas provide some shade.

Sandwich at The Creamery

Sandwich at The Creamery

The big downside? No outlets. Come fully charged, or plan to work for a couple of hours and then pack up for lunch (or a happy hour beer).

Pluses: Lengthy menu, Ritual coffee, plenty of seating

Minuses: No outlets, a little dark inside despite big windows

M Cafe

18 Aug
M Cafe

M Cafe

M Cafe is a diamond in the rough. And by rough, we mean the rough part of SOMA. Just a couple blocks south of the Civic Center station, M Cafe has empty storefronts and overgrown lots as neighbors.

The Godfather sandwich

The Godfather sandwich

That said, this is a great place to camp out for a long period of time. The owner is super friendly, the sandwiches are delish (try the Godfather with the secret sauce), and there’s hardly anyone there. There are lots of tables next to outlets, and the owner seems happy to have warm bodies in the room.

Pluses: friendly atmosphere, not busy, outlets, good sandwiches, and Greek treats

Minuses: sketchy location

Rodger’s Coffee & Tea

11 Aug
Veggie sausage from Rodger's Coffee & Tea

Veggie sausage from Rodger's Coffee & Tea

Rodger’s Coffee & Tea is a small shop in between two BART stations. They specialize in individually brewed coffees (with more than 25 blends available) and sausages. Yep, you read that right. Haute Doggity sausages (including a veggie sausage), with all the fixings (sauerkraut, mayo, mustard, ketchup, relish, etc.). You may be thinking that coffee and sausages don’t go too well together, and you’re probably right. So we got a coffee first and then followed it up with a sausage.

Small cold-brew coffee with milk (it's a huge small!)

Small cold-brew coffee with milk (it's a huge small!)

Pluses: Sausages, plugs inside, variety of coffee, outdoor seats, reasonable walk from BART, large cold-brew coffees

Minuses: Limited seating, limited food options (if you don’t want sausage, that is)


9 Aug

Jane is a couple of different atmospheres in one. Downstairs, it’s a light, modern coffee bar with big windows, a serious tea selection, and plenty of seating for the lunchtime crowd. Upstairs, it’s more of a living room/grandma’s attic scene, with side tables, armchairs, and a few tables painted with sayings that made us chuckle despite their slight Maxine-from-the-Hallmark-cards vibe.

Upstairs table

Upstairs table; toffee cookie

The Pacific Heights cafe proclaims that it wants to be “your fun respite from your busy anonymous city life” and “your home away from home,” statements that are music to our lunch-and-laptopper ears. The cafe does regulate laptop use in the downstairs area, with several tables reserved for lunch patrons from 11:30-2:30, but everywhere else is a work-friendly zone at all hours. On a recent visit, we overheard a couple of computer programmers talking about Jane as their regular work spot, but it also draws those taking a break from shopping on Fillmore Street or just meeting friends for an afternoon chat.

Jane's coffee bar

Jane's coffee bar

Four Barrel provides the coffee, Five Mountains does the tea, and Jane does the rest, including some unusual cookies (toffee, Nutella). We haven’t tried the lunch, but the menu looks like a solid list of cafe classics (ham and gruyere panini; chopped salad; daily soup).

Pluses: friendly staff; relatively easy to get a spot with an outlet

Minuses: spotlight-y lights make the upstairs a little stuffy