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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)

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

Duboce Park Cafe

2 Aug

Duboce Park Cafe couldn’t be more convenient for one of us to visit, and yet it’s never been a Lunch and Laptop favorite, owing largely to lackluster food and coffee. But a recent series of upgrades has moved this Duboce Triangle/Lower Haight spot up a few notches on the list.

Outside Duboce Park Cafe

Outside Duboce Park Cafe

The first good sign was the introduction of Sightglass Coffee earlier this year. Then the treats quotient exploded, with donuts from Dynamo, cupcakes from Mission Minis, and cake pops joining an already solid selection of chocolate bars, brownies, and muffins. Even the bagels, which were already one of the better food options here, have gotten a quality boost and now come from the adorably logo-ed Spot Bagel.

The lunch still falls a little short, though; the sandwich menu reads like a list of things you could make cheaper at home. But the daily soup is often a good pick, and the smoothie menu is extensive. We’ve been meaning to try the pita pizzas, but we’ll get to that once we’ve tasted all the new bagels. If you like to work through happy hour, it’s hard to do better: $3 pints of good, local beer  starting at 4 p.m. daily? Yes, please.

The wifi is solid, but there aren’t any outlets, so be sure to charge up.

Pluses: On the MUNI N line and close to Church Street Station; abundant outdoor seating for sunny days; dog-friendly outside (and directly across from Duboce Park, for post-laptop dog fun); improving

Minuses: Lunch options are the weakest part of the food menu; no outlets; surprisingly noisy at times

Caffe Pascucci

22 Jul
Pascucci frosted goodness

Pascucci frosted goodness

Caffe Pascucci is directly across from the ballpark, but this Italian coffee shop is a world away from a sports bar. This roomy, white space is relatively serene and rarely crowded. This is location is just one of a worldwide chain, but its Italian heritage makes that seem classy rather than sellout-y.

Caffe Pascucci salad

Caffe Pascucci salad

There are plugs along the side walls, so this is a good place to stay for a while. They have a changing menu of special sandwiches, salads, and a few flatbread pizzas that are generally tasty. With a long list of Italian coffee drinks, it’s hard to order a non-fat latte when there are so many options with chocolate or dulce de leche or Nutella on the menu. They also serve beer and wine and occasionally offer samples of their newest treats at the register.

Pluses: Plugs, candy-like coffee drinks, relatively quiet and uncrowded, near MUNI N and T lines

Minuses: WiFi can be unreliable at times