All posts tagged “coffee

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PYT

PYT is a somewhat hidden but classy restaurant in DTLA, perched on the corner of 4th and Main. It has a small patio area covered in greenery, creating a cozy alcove on an otherwise busy street.

PYT neighbors its sister restaurants Ledlow and Baco Mercat, with plenty of natural lighting and a sophisticated design. PYT offers brunch, lunch, and dinner, and even during peak weekend brunch hours, there was plenty of seating and no wait.

With fresh, seasonal ingredients and beautifully curated dishes, I feel like I found a hidden brunch gem in DTLA. While the meals are a bit on the pricier side, and aren’t necessarily a ‘classic brunch’ (ie benedicts and bottomless mimosas), the dishes were elegant and filling. This would be a fancier brunch spot, or a nice breakfast to take the parents for a quiet, quality visit.

To start, we were served a beautiful plate of grilled shishito peppers, an appetizer served on the house. They were sprinkled with lemon, yuzu, salt, pepper, and a hint of cayenne that gave a kick to our first bites.

I ordered the Fried Eggs with Heirloom Tomatoes, which despite being a very simple dish, were very flavorful and salty, and the roasted potatoes were cooked to perfection.

Below is the BLT, which was packed full of flavor and grilled beautifully.

On the side (for a bit extra $) is the Smoked Trout which came with a creamy dressing, lettuce, tomatoes, and multiple different spices. This dish was simple as well, but was so delicious that I didn’t even notice I was having salad for breakfast.

While the prices are a bit too high to dine at PYT often, it’s definitely a great spot to have a quiet brunch date or impress a few classy visitors without ever having to worry about the wait.

400 S Main St
Los Angeles, CA 90013

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Flores

Flores is the classier Mexican brunch that San Francisco has been needing. While there are other contenders like Padrecito in Cole Valley, the Marina district is covered in classic American brunches and was in desperate need of a little spice.

Taking up a large, open air space on Union St., Flores offers fresh, homemade masa tortillas, fresh cocktails, and great dishes.

The front of the restaurant features their large bar, with cute palm frond shaped fans, a colorful tile floor, and lounge seats. Above the bar is a kitchen, a large community table, and an expansive area of tables fills the back.

One of the highlights of Flores is the decor, with intricate lighting fixtures and lamps, as well as the ornately designed walls, full of vibrant colors and patterns.

As we were there for brunch (they serve lunch and dinner as well), we ordered their specialty coffee drinks, which were a combination of horchata – mexican hot chocolate – iced coffee with cinnamon on top. It was DELICIOUS. It’s sweet, but also has the coffee kick required for mornings.

Below is the Mango appetizer, fresh mango and jicama sprinkled with habanero, chili, and lime. This is a twist on a classic Mexican snack, and it was a great appetizer for our brunch. I love spice, but it was the perfect balance of sweet and spicy (my friend hates spice and ate it just fine!).

One of the dishes we ordered was the Flores Ranchero, which has 2 baked eggs, tomato-bean stew, tortilla, cheese, pico de gallo, and avocado. The other dish is the Huarache, which was a spinach and cheese tortilla, carnitas, sunny eggs, lettuce, spicy onion,  and queso fresco. Both were hearty and delicious, with big portions and big flavors. All of their tortillas are made in house and are only corn (so gluten-free!) and are thick, warm, and soft.

For a city that has so much brunch competition, Flores did us right in its great menu options, drinks, and affordable prices. The space is also fairly large, so I would recommend it if you hate waiting in lines and paying $20 a dish!

2030 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

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Jane the Bakery

Jane is and always will be my favorite cafe in San Francisco, so I could not have been more thrilled when they opened a third location in December! Jane the Bakery, on Geary and Steiner by Japantown, is more focused on the bakery side of the business than the cafe side, a shift from the other two cafe locations (Fillmore & Larkin).

While it still has counter seating and a couple tables, Jane the Bakery is suited more for the to-go breakfast goer, as the bakery offers a larger selection of pastries and desserts, as well as 37 different kinds of fresh baked loaves of bread.

The usual menu of sandwiches, salads, avo-toasts, and breakfast options are still available, but with the limited seating, it may make more sense to grab pastries and coffee to go. At Jane the Bakery, they offer pastries that aren’t at the other locations, including many new creations that are produced right in that space, as well as flatbreads.

I had the immense pleasure of being invited to Jane by Amanda, the owner. She brought out all of these amazing pastries for me to try, like the lemon poppyseed knot, the raspberry danish, and my personal favorite, the cinnamon roll. The pastries are always the perfect amount of flakiness, butteriness, and sweetness, and are truly one of a kind.


I’m taking calculated bites of each of these three pastries, wondering how I’m going to be able to finish them, when Amanda walks out with a plate of two fresh-from-the-oven flatbreads.

These flatbreads were incredible. On the left is the Three Cheese, but with a hint of spice, giving it a bit of a kick. On the right is a seasonal special, which was a sort of Mediterranean style flatbread with tomatoes, cauliflower, and za’atar spices. I loved every single bite. The bread itself was perfectly fluffy with a thick crust, and the toppings literally made my tongue ache for more (especially with the savory flavors from the za’atar spice). One of these would make a perfect lunch meal (with a cookie too, because how could you resist?).

At this point, I’m sitting at the counter by myself with 5 pastries looking like a complete fatass. Amanda brings a to-go box over to me, so I start wrapping things up to take home. As I’m closing the lid, she brings over another plate, this time with an entire meal: the Mango Curry Chicken Sandwich. I’m thinking, how the heck am I going to eat this? But I proceed to take a few bites (because how could I not), and put it into another box to take with me. The sandwich was phenomenal, with the creamy, curry chicken with melted cheese, and it’s definitely something I would order.

I’m finally thinking I’m done when Alex, the Pastry Chef, comes over to me with this beautiful egg tart on a cookie sheet. Now this looks way too good not to eat, so I take a few nibbles, being careful not to break the yolk (that’s for later). This pastry, the Brunch Croissant, is a Jane the Bakery weekend exclusive; it is a baked over-easy egg on a bed of spring onions and Dijon mustard, sprinkled with chives, maldon, and black pepper. This is definitely one of the best things I’ve eaten at Jane so far. The croissant was buttery, flakey, and the perfect home for the silky egg with sweet mustard and onion flavors.

I pack everything up to leave, all of my 1000 pastries, when Alex scoots back over to show me his newest creation before it went into the oven, the Fruit Brioche. This is a pastry with lightly sweetened cream cheese in the middle scented with orange, basil, and lemon, topped with delicately poached blood orange and pistachio around the outside. I’m hoping to go back there soon to try it out!

Jane completely spoiled me with all of these pastries, and while I looked a little crazy having 7 different items to myself, I have absolutely no shame (and honestly I order that much when I usually go anyway). Jane’s third location has only proved how much amazing food they can produce, and I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to try everything out!

1881 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94115

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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.

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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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Skool

 What brought me and my friend to Skool, tucked into a section of the Design District of San Francisco, was the Uni Flan and our obsession with seafood. Skool offers ‘Seafood with Japanese flair,’ and offers meals all throughout the day, with Vegetarian and Gluten Free menus as well. Many of the dishes they offer are rich and use fine meats and seafood, such as the Roasted Duck, Kobe Beef burger, and Squid Ink Spaghettina.

We had a late brunch, and of course ordered a boozy brunch drink (Hibiscus Prosecco – which was amazing) and the Uni Flan.

It was definitely worth coming here JUST for the Uni Flan. We hadn’t even gotten our entrees and we were already sold. The Uni Flan was a soft, light Sea Urchin flan topped with Ikura (Salmon Roe) and Fresh Uni, the perfect mixture of salt and cream. While Uni can be a hard sell (you either love it or you hate it), spread onto the small bites of crispy baguette, it was the perfect savory appetizer with the ‘seafood flair.’

For my main course, I ordered the Ton Toro Cassoulet, which was almost like a light chili with Braised Pork Cheek, a Poached Egg, white beans, and pickled jalapeños in a tomato sauce. When ordering it, I wasn’t exactly sure what would come out, but the Braised Pork Cheek was incredibly flavorful and tender with crispy outer edges, the egg was poached to perfection, and the pickled jalapeños gave a slight Mexican flavor to the classy bowl of chili I was consuming. I liked it so much that I tried to recreate it at home, but of course it wasn’t the same!

My friend ordered the Smoked Salmon Benedict with Avocado, and I have never seen such a lavish benedict! The English Muffin was topped with Spinach, Avocado, and bright slabs of Smoked Salmon, covered in a Crimini Cream sauce, a rich and creamy twist from the typical Hollandaise sauce. Don’t let the dark color of the sauce turn you off of this decadent benedict!

We were both definitely very impressed with Skool, with its rich flavors and vibrant colors, and are looking forward to coming back for brunch or trying their dinner menu! With a full bar and great patio seating, Skool will be a hot spot for SF brunching and dining.

 1725 Alameda St
San Francisco, CA 94103