Archive for the ‘Best Cafes’ Category

Revolutions and ramps

Revolution cafe SF

Originally uploaded by baratunde.

For a few years in the 1990s I experienced San Francisco from a combination of wheelchair, crutches, cane, and my own legs, which occasionally cooperated. Merciful time has intruded and helped me to forget all the valuable lessons learned as I was carried up and down the stairs at the 14th St. faerie house and as I inconvenienced everyone in countless restaurants. Now, from a slipped disc, I’m back in a chair for a while, so I figure I’ll put my navigational adventures on Metroblogging SF. The landscape of a city is very different when you’re on wheels! Every bump and incline counts.

My goal last night was to hang out with friends and to get to the Make-out Room to see Writers With Drinks. My friend and I were able to park in the 21st and Bartlett Garage. Whoa! Did you know that between 21st and 22nd, there is an ever so slight incline? My wimpy triceps don’t make the cut, yet, so I needed a push.

As a creature of habit, “stodgy” even, I have routines, and one of them is to stop at Revolution Cafe for a latte before going to Writers With Drinks. And at Revolution… whoops! A significant step up, about a 4 inch leap, not completely impossible if I had a sportier chair. At a table outside on the sidewalk, I was able to lurk and chat with a stranger while my friend ordered our coffee. My new table buddy, a dude from Sacramento, had extremely beautiful long silver hair, nicely clean and brushed. It’s the rare hippie guy around here who knows how to use “product”… We struck up an acquaintance. I told him where to get pizza (that place around the corner that sells it by the slice, or Little Star on Mission, or Pauline’s on Mission). He told me all about the Piedmont Piano Company, where they have incredibly fancy 10 foot concert grand pianos and have amazing shows with famous blues and jazz musicians that are cheap and have only 15 or 20 people show up, sometimes. Meanwhile, I stared with the most basilisky, baleful glare I could muster at the wooden railroad tie that prevented my going into the cafe to use their bathroom. If baleful glares could melt wood… Hey Revolution people, build a tiny ramp – how hard could it be? Just smooth it out a little.


Best cafes: Maxfield’s

Maxfield’s cafe on 17th and Dolores is a typical Mission District cafe, just as full of hipsters but a little sunnier and lighter. I really like the atmosphere here, and the wireless signal is easy to catch. Yelp entry.

Only downside: parking’s very tight, though I often have luck on 17th St. just to the north.

The Canvas is Closing


Word came to me today from the Inner Sunset Merchants Association that the Canvas Gallery will be closing its doors soon. This is sad news for all of those who live nearby as the Canvas was a great meeting place, with decent food and a nice gallery. They held excellent community events, giving local artists and crafstmen/women the opportunity to sell their wares. Note, imho the food and service passed its peak some time ago, unfortunately this may have been the leading indicator that the gallery was going to fold. If you are a regular at the Canvas, let them know they will be missed. If you have never been, now is the time.

There is also a rumour circulating that the Canvas will be replaced by a seafood restaurant called Pacific Catch. They have locations in the Marina and Corte Madera.

Previously on Metblogs: The Canvas.

Green Apple books literary moshpit

Thanks to Mark Pritchard I was at the huge blowout used book sale at Green Apple Books on Clement and 5th! And it’ll go on for months, with new books brought up from the warehouse every week.

We were all elbow to elbow with our necks sideways, concentrating, muttering, calculating prices. The crowd was intense and intent, biting their lips with concentration. At one point I lunged halfway across the room with my hand stuck out and nabbed an old hardback copy of The Country of the Pointed Firs; I think I whimpered with happiness at my luck and then realized that about 10 people were giggling and beaming approval. After about an hour & a giant armload of books & a stiff neck, at the checkout I had only spent 50 bucks.

Hanging out at internet cafes


Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Hanging out at internet cafes is so pleasant. I’m at Cafe Quetzal at Polk and Sutter drinking an eggnog latte. It’s prettier than my house and with better windows; muted colors of yellow, orange, jungley giant houseplants, and mellow jazz. The quiet busy people around me could be reading this blog right now at this very moment! Muahahaha!

Ah, the hard life of a flaneur.

Pretty soon I’ll head over to Cafe Royale for the BlogHer holiday party. I’m ready and primed for action, wearing my friend Squid‘s “No one cares about your blog” tshirt.

Farley’s, Potrero Hill

I’m at Farley’s coffee in the midst of a jazz Thang with the twangy bassline & saxophone – a lot of toddlers – Scrabble players – two people playing cards with a Republican Chickenhawks of America deck – more gay families that I usually see in one cafe at the same time. How to tell the gay couples from “friends with a baby”? Besides invoking my basic gaydar, I figure if Daddy and other Daddy and baby Hannah are wearing matching Merrills, it’s a good bet. Conversation is impossible at this volume – it’s too loud inside…. Their jamming is good… particularly the spastically hyper bass player’s connection with the drummer. Out on the street it sounds great, saxophone drifting over the hills gracefully along with the swooshing of cars and distant highway.

potrero hill festival flyer

The band is called Darktet. I’m won over despite my skepticism of live music in cafes.

Outside, I met a super nice smiley woman & her daughter putting up flyers for the Potrero Hill Festival, which happens in a couple of weeks:

Potrero Hill Festival
Saturday, October 14
10am – 5pm

Pancake breakfast 9-11am, $7.00
Potrero Hill Neighborhood House
953 De Haro Street
(On Southern Heights between Carolina & Rhode Island)
More info: 415-826-8080,

dance – jewelry – art – ethnic food – music – kids’ activities – craft

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Revolution would be my favorite, ‘cept for the soundtrack

Yesterday I ducked into Revolution on 22nd between Mission and Valencia to wind down with a book and a beer. This is a classic cafe, open to the sidewalk, with a local artist hanging her project: scraps of paper with photos or drawings on them, entitled “Men I Picked Up on the Street.” Subtract the blaring Pet Shop Boys and you get a good vibe. Espresso, beer, wine, sangria and live music later on makes for a great place to meet a friend after work.

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.

Best cafes: Simple Pleasures

Best Cafes logoSan Francisco writer Michelle Richmond recently blogged about Simple Pleasures cafe out in the Richmond, way out on Balboa, and it brought back memories of when I was a 28-year-old student teacher at George Washington High School out on 32nd and Geary. We student teachers found out that the punky/arty kids liked to hang out at this cafe a few blocks from the school, at 3434 Balboa St near the Balboa Theater, and it became our hangout too.

We were all between 8 and 12 years older than the freshmen and sophomores we taught — not too old not to be attracted to the same things — and almost every late afternoon you’d find a table full of us student teachers down there. There I harbored a crush on Paula S., my fellow student teacher, gossipped about the tenured teachers, and compared notes on exercises and “classroom management” techniques.

Best cafes: Main St. Coffee Roasting Co., Redwood City

mainstext_sm.jpgI’ve been working in Redwood City for almost two years, and this is still the greatest cafe I’ve found: A full menu for breakfast and lunch, freshly prepared good food, reasonable prices, plenty of parking.

They have really good food — not just cafe stuff — but real substantial stuff for breakfast and lunch. Often available is home-baked pie that’s just unbelievably good.

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