All posts tagged “cafe

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Handlebar Coffee Roasters

On a trip down to Santa Barbara for the weekend, I mapped a out a couple of cafés I could visit to get my caffeine fix – and to find a little piece of home. Handlebar Coffee Roasters, located on a side street off the downtown strip of State St., was exactly what I was looking for. With locally roasted coffee and a multitude of hot and cold drinks to choose from, as well as the long line looping outside the building, I knew I was in the right place.

While the café wasn’t necessarily large, it had outdoor seating, a large community table, and massive windows where light streamed in. At the counter, Handlebar sells small pastries and snacks, and on a shelf to the right, offers bags of coffee beans and teas, as well as different flavors of chai.

A macchiato for my father, a latte for me, and a hot chocolate for my little sister:



Everyone loved their drinks, and we regretted not coming here again the next day!
A direct quote from my father:

Handlebar > Starbucks (duh.)

Established by two bikers turned coffee roasters, Handlebar couldn’t go wrong! It’s definitely worth the visit and is only a short turn off of State St, downtown.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

128 E Canon Perdido St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

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La Note

La Note is one of the most highly sought-after brunch places in Berkeley. Boasting gourmet French cuisine, La Note most often has wait times of over an hour, and a large crowd waiting outside.

The food was phenomenal. La Note is mostly known for their French pastries, which you can order as a filled basket, and their incredibly fluffy egg dishes, all of which come with their garlic home fries.

Their pastries include croissants, coffee cakes, brioche, tartine, and baguettes. While the basket and a brunch plate might be too much, a select few are great to share – we ordered the Toasted Cinnamon Brioche with Lavender Honey and the Sour Cream Coffee Cake Maison. I was completely taken by the Lavender Honey – the airy Cinnamon brioche dipped in the Lavender Honey was heavenly, with the Lavender leaving a subtle but lasting taste.

The main courses included a variety of egg dishes, pancakes, French brioche (fancy for French Toast), and smaller oatmeal cups. The dishes come with a side of home fries, with meaty garlic cloves as big as the potatoes, and combo dishes include the fluffiest, softest eggs you’ve ever tasted.

Above is the Les Oeufs Lucas, with Scrambled Eggs and Goat Cheese on toast and a side of home fries and roasted tomatoes. Below is the classic Two Eggs + Bacon dish, sunny side up.

I ordered the Cote Est, which was a combo plate with eggs, a pancake, and bacon or home fries. I asked the waitress for the “Swirly Pancake” after seeing multiple people enjoying them. Not only are they incredibly photogenic, but the “Swirly Pancake,” which turned out to be the Creme Fraiche pancake, was creamy and delicious too!

The coffee and eggs completely won me over, and the Creme Fraiche pancake along with the aromatic garlic and potatoes completed this incredible brunch meal. The atmosphere is perfect for family meals and cute dates, with the bustling but gentle wait staff and the romantic French environment. La Note also has a large back patio covered in greenery. This is a place I will definitely be returning to!

2377 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94704

 

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Brown Sugar Kitchen

Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland is the soul food restaurant run by Tanya Holland of the Melting Pot, a show on the Food Network. What started as a small restaurant in a rarely visited area of Oakland is now a hot spot for one of the best Chicken & Waffle breakfasts in the Bay Area.

Brown Sugar Kitchen isn’t like the other Bay Area brunch spots with Benedicts and Pancakes. Brown Sugar Kitchen has a limited brunch menu, featuring a variation of Chicken & Waffles (or just chicken, or just waffle), and other items such as a Veggie Scramble and their Daily Special, which was the Pork Hash with Poached Eggs.

The Pork Hash with Poached Eggs was flavorful and had a small spice kick, which, covered in the yolk from the poached eggs, created a filling and savory breakfast. Other menu items included granola, BBQ shrimp & grits, side dishes such as sausages and eggs, and giant beignets.

The Beignets were gone within seconds. Since they weren’t too greasy or heavy, the sweet layer of powdered sugar and the fruity jams (Raspberry & Marmalade) that they were paired with created a dessert-like appetizer that didn’t make anyone feel too guilty before indulging in their Chicken & Waffles!

The Chicken & Waffles were everything I’ve dreamed of (yes, I dream about Chicken & Waffles) and more. The waffles were made out of cornmeal, which, while it was still airy and buttery, weren’t too heavy or overly sweet. The dollop of butter on top was mixed with a hint of brown sugar, lending a sugary but also molasses-y note to the waffle. The chicken, fried to perfection (one dark one white meat), was the perfect balance of savory and spice, fried with a Cajun seasoning that flavored them through to the bone. All of this with the Apple Syrup drizzle (tasted like cinnamon apple pie) created one of the best Chicken & Waffle dishes I’ve ever had. It wasn’t too heavy or greasy, and I didn’t feel overly stuffed afterwards (so naturally it left me wanting more!).


With mimosas, plenty of side items and sweet/savory options, Brown Sugar Kitchen is definitely a place I would recommend if you find yourself in this part of Oakland. The Chicken & Waffles is a MUST, and goes great with your morning coffee or mimosa!

2534 Mandela Pkwy
Oakland, CA 94607
 

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Wise Sons Bagel & Bakery

Only 3 weeks into its opening, Wise Sons Bagel & Bakery, a derivative of the Wise Sons Deli in the Mission, has accrued a large social media gathering and become an Instagram hot spot, attracting customers from all over the city. With its NY style bagels and drool-worthy Lox photos, its no wonder there was a large line outside of the building this weekend.


Of course, I ordered the Lox Bagel, open faced, on Sesame. Lox bagels are already my go-to for a breakfast splurge, and the photos I had seen only made it that much easier to decide what to eat.

The selection of bagels may seem limiting, only because they don’t have sweet options like Blueberry or Chocolate, but they do have the classic bagel staples, which go with any of the numerous shmears they have. The different toppings make up for the lack of bagel choices, ranging from regular cream cheese to almond butter, fruit, avocado, and smoked salmon shmears. For a bigger breakfast, they make sandwiches, such as the Egg & Cheese Breakfast sandwich, Veggie Sandwiches, and the Smoked Salmon sandwich.

They also serve Intelligentsia Coffee, a popular coffee company in NYC, Chicago, and LA.

For someone who is obsessed with Lox sandwiches, I was easily won over by the thick amount of salmon and the perfect amount of cream cheese, capers, and the sprinkle of dill. However, I felt like the bagel itself was a bit hard, and didn’t have the same fluffiness that bagels usually have. It could be that I’m not used to this style of bagels, but overall the sandwich was very tasty and worth waiting in line for!

I would definitely go here again, and it is gaining a lot of popularity – it’s been open for less than a month but is already on the list for many foodies in the city, and they’ve run out of bagels by 2PM most days!

1520 Fillmore St
San Francisco, CA 94115
    

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Flywheel Coffee Roasters

Flywheel Coffee Roasters is in a bit of a hidden spot, densely populated with joggers and cars whizzing by Golden Gate Park and the Panhandle. Located next to Whole Foods in Upper Haight, this large café is a great study spot and break from the craziness of Haight Ashbury.

The inside of Flywheel is large and spread out, with many counters and tables where people can plug in to work or sip coffee with friends. There is also a back patio seating area, and large open windows in the front of the building for sunny SF days. The decor is completely wooden with multiple wheels around the café, creating an almost Blacksmithy vibe with the rustic and antique furniture.

I wasn’t necessarily ecstatic over the coffee or the pastries, which was a small selection, but the cinnamon crumb cake was a great choice out of the few muffins and scones they offered.

The best part was seeing the coffee drip through these lit up orb like machines – it felt like a coffee lab where the drinks were being concocted right there!

 672 Stanyan St
San Francisco, CA 94117

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Hollow

Though the alarmingly bright green color of Hollow is hard to miss, this hole-in-the-wall cafe is overlooked by many walking down Irving in the Inner Sunset.

The size of Hollow – only big enough to fit a couple tables and the barista station – suggests that it is more of a grab n’ go coffee stop, with a handful of tasty pastries that can be easily eaten on the go. However, it’s never TOO crowded, and while it can be a bit tight to sit in the actual shop, stopping for a minute to enjoy a hot latte in this cozy room makes for a very warm, homey morning.

Hollow offers a small selection of scones, croissants, and cookies, (and even Dandelion chocolate!) but their big seller is the variety of drinks. Aside from the usual Cappuccino and Latte, Hollow creates a number of different flavors, ranging from Artisan Dark Chocolate Mochas to Spiced Chai Lattes.

My friend and I ordered the Butterscotch Latte and the Matcha Green Tea Latte, and the cafe was calm enough to allow us to sit for a bit and sip our drinks.

The Butterscotch Latte tasted exactly as you would think – coffee, but very sweet and creamy, like a cream soda mixed with a vanilla latte.

The Matcha Green Tea Latte had the perfect amount of creaminess and spice, and I splurged a bit by adding a homemade vanilla marshmallow (just because I wanted to try it). The submerged marshmallow slightly dissolved and made the drink sweeter, though not by much, since the softened mallow didn’t fully dissolve before I finished my drink.

While this isn’t the place to come to with a big group of people, the fun variety of drinks and flavors is worth coming to for a to-go coffee or a quick sip in the morning. The Sunset District doesn’t have many cute cafes like Hollow, but its coziness and Harry Potter’s Cupboard Under the Stairs-esque feel makes for a very warm and inviting environment.

1435 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122

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The Mill

The Mill, located on Divisadero in Hayes Valley, is my favorite cafe North of the Panhandle.

With its large windows and beautiful exposed dark red brick, it’s hard to keep from going inside. The cafe is large and open, with bright lights, window lounging areas, ornately decorated walls and shelves, and an intricately twisted rope structure dangling over the community table.

The Mill is known for their bread and coffee, a combination of Four Barrel Coffee and Josey Baker Bread, who work together to run one of the best cafes in the city. Along with the rich creamy coffee that is brewed by Four Barrel, Josey Baker Bread bakes the most fresh and fluffy bread, with thick crunchy crusts and full of hearty grains. These breads can be bought by the loaves, but are also served as toasts – $4 for a thick slice of toast with your desired topping – all of which are incredibly delicious.

There are usually four kinds of toasts offered:

Dark Mountain Rye Bread with Cream Cheese and Salt & Pepper
Country Bread with Butter and Cinnamon Sugar
Sesame Poppy Bread with Almond Butter and Salt
Bird Bread with Butter, Honey, and Salt

My favorite is the Dark Mountain Rye Bread with Cream Cheese and Salt & Pepper. The cream cheese is made by The Mill as well, and is a thick, rich schmear, with a plentiful helping of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper topped onto this savory toast.

For a sweeter palate, I like the Country Bread with Butter and Cinnamon Sugar, which, while sugary, is not overpowering, and reminds me of a Churro-toast. I love cinnamon, so this is the perfect alternative to go with my latte when I am wanting something sweet.

The Mill was one of the first cafes I visited when I moved to the city, and still remains one of my favorites a year later, along with Jane. The combination of one of my favorite coffee brewers, Four Barrel, with the undeniably delicious toasts by Josey Baker, make for an amazing coffee shop, with the added perk of no wi-fi to force people to enjoy the beautiful company and establishment that they are in and take a break from their tech!

The Mill also serves one-of-a-kind pizzas on Mondays 7-9, made with unique and interesting ingredients (think Cheeseboard Collective in Berkeley). I have yet to make it for Pizza Night at The Mill, but will be sure to update when I do!

736 Divisadero St
San Francisco, CA 94117