Run the Red at Velo Rouge Cafe
Located near USF at 798 Arguello Boulevard at the corner of McAllister, the bicycle-themed Velo Rouge Cafe is popular with USF students and neighborhood residents. There always seems to be a good mix of people during the day: coeds, professionals, and parents with kids. As expected by the name, a fair amount of bicylclists stop by, locking up their bikes on the bright red bike rack out front. The owner has created a good, comfortable neighborhood cafe that entices the Golden Gate Park-goers, as well. After a few visits on my own, and enjoying the coffee and the espresso drinks, I brought my wife and daugther there on a recent Saturday morning to try their nibbles as well.
The barrista behind the counter was friendly, if not a little sleepy that morning. The door sign was still turned to “Closed” until a customer turned it around to “Open” for them. There was some good jazz CD playing (btw, the cafe has live music on Friday nights). My wife ordered a decaf soy mocha (hey, she’s pregnant) and I ordered a latte. They make a good espresso drink–maybe not to the ethereal specs of Ritual, but darn good. We also ordered two of the breakfast items: the McAllister Scramble (two eggs scrambled with shrooms, onions, spinach, red bell pepper, and cheese on an English muffin) and a Mt. Ventoux Egg Sandwich (egg, jack cheese, and optional bacon or avocado on a bagel, croissant, or English muffin). Nothing mind-blowing, but totally enjoyable. They also serve granola, oatmeal, and the stand-by two eggs, potatoes, and toast plate. For lunch and dinner, they serve a variety of grilled paninis named after famous bike racers (Coppi, Merckx, Pantani, and Indurian), salad, and house-made South African savory pies (gotta try one of those next time!). For beverages other than coffee drinks, there’s beer on tap (Fat Tire and Pilsner Urquell), several bottled beers, and wines. I noted a chalkboard that offered weekend mimosas, bloody marys, and screwdrivers.
The light-filled interior is comfortable with a number of 2- and 4-tops, a window counter with about 6 stools, and a comfy red love seat and chair surrounding a large glass coffeetable filled with cool mags, including The Surfer’s Path (see the August 2006 issue with a feature of Ocean Beach!), National Geographic, bicycle mags, etc. My daughter stopped dancing to the music long enough to sit with me on the loveseat and read her own book as I savored the Ocean Beach article in the surf mag.
On every Thursday evening from 6:30-9:30 P.M., the cafe runs a Radio Africa & Kitchen, a family-style “nomadic restaurant with sustainable products and methods,” with food created by chef Eskender Aseged (reservations requested, cash preferred). I’ll have to take the family there one of these weeks to give that a try!
So, if you’re in that neck of the woods, even if not on pedal-power, stop by one of the best cafes in the City.