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)

Jane

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

Local 123

8 Aug
Local 123

Local 123

Local 123 is an East Bay gem. They take their coffee (Sightglass) and tea seriously, and they even have beer and wine, on tap. Their website explains that wine on tap is greener and cheaper than bottled, so why not? We haven’t tried their food yet, but the menu sounds delicious and most of it is sourced locally.

Tea at Local 123

Tea at Local 123

This roomy spot has a lot of tables and a back porch, and no one batted an eye when one of us closed her laptop and started cutting, gluing, and coloring paper (for work, we swear!).

It’s a good thing this spot in is the East Bay. Otherwise we might have to close down Lunch and Laptop and go here every day.

Pluses: friendly atmosphere, room to spread out, environmentally friendly, outdoor seating

Minuses: far away from San Francisco, no visible outlets

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

Mercury Cafe

1 Aug
Mercury Cafe vegan baked goods

Mercury Cafe vegan baked goods

Mercury Cafe serves individually brewed cups of De La Paz coffee–beans delivered by bike messenger–homemade vegan and non-vegan baked goods, and sandwiches on Acme bread. Despite their high-brow foodiness, the place is a casual local hangout.

The place fills up most weekdays, though you can usually snag a table if you time it right (or wait for your own spot at one of the counter stools).

They serve beer and wine in the evenings and even have some happy hour specials. They have occasional evening events, listed on their Facebook page.

The cafe has big windows that open onto the sidewalk, so you can pretend you’re working outside on nice days without suffering from screen glare. Seats with plugs, however, are along the back wall; this area can get a little stuffy on hot days, so come fully charged if it’s warm by SF standards. They are currently raising money for their own parklet, so here’s hoping they’ll have a real outdoor seating area soon.

Pluses: Tasty food, plugs, happy hour, reliable internet, big windows

Minuses: Can be busy

The Summit

29 Jul

The Summit got a bunch of attention when it opened late last year, probably because it seemed to bring together three of the things San Francisco loves most: tech entrepreneurship, local food, and fresh coffee. Officially, a whole bunch of start-ups have their offices in this building, thanks to incubator I/O Ventures. Unofficially, a bunch more are probably getting started at any one of The Summit’s long worktables or cushy couches.

Long communal tables at Summit

Long communal tables at Summit

The warehouse-like space accommodates plenty of laptops, and that’s part of its problem: The Summit seems like it would be a great place to hang out and work all day, but with only about six outlets in the whole space, it’s not practical to count on this place being your office-away-from-home. Our tip: Head straight for the back, where you can keep an eye on the prime seats near the wall outlets; bonus points for bringing your own extension cord.

Even if the “laptop” part of Lunch and Laptop can be a challenge here, the “lunch” part is a big winner. It’s not cheap, but it’s also not your standard cafe fare; you’re shelling out for seasonal salads, 4505 Meats sausages, and inventive drink specials. Coffee is from Blue Bottle; teas come on adorable trays with timers. We hear desserts are the real specialty, but they’re only served in the evening, after the laptops are put away.

Iced coffee at The Summit

Iced coffee at The Summit

Pluses: General atmosphere of productivity and start-up-y energy; quality food and drink; collectively produced soundtrack that on one recent day included everything from Radiohead to TLC’s “Waterfalls”

Minuses: Competitive outlet situation; awkward stools instead of proper chairs; pricey