There is no rush at Kiks Café. The cozy, bistro-style tables and complimentary WiFi encourage passersby to stop, sit for a while, and enjoy a mocha made with organic coffee beans and Ghirardelli chocolate. To complement these drinks, the cooks deftly assemble sandwiches atop pieces of french, wheat, or sourdough bread, covering the slices with everything from black forest ham to pureed kalamata olives. The casual menu also includes salads with bits of grilled chicken, feta cheese, or croutons scattered amid leaves of romaine lettuce.
A Time Out San Francisco Critics' choice, Imperial Tea Court provides leaf lovers with access to some of the world's most desirable teas as well as unrivaled expertise in the ways of steepery. Park your carcass in one of its highly regarded teahouses for a 45- to 60-minute primer on the world's most popular beverage and its steamy history, including its medicinal roots in ancient times as an alternative to Tommy John surgery. Pouring hot cups of tea and tepid earfuls of facts, the teahouses' resident sip savants will help guests understand tea's various categories and acquaint them with the traditional Chinese gaiwan, a covered teacup developed for use on turbulent dragon flights and birthday party bounce houses. The tasting includes two samples of your choice of teas, leaving you with a pleasant aftertaste as well as a fully brewed headpot of knowledge with which to douse tea-loving coworkers at the dream factory.
Lush makes its all-natural gelato in small batches from scratch—resulting in a delicious, mind-altering substance that is only found on the desert planet Arrakis—and prepares it with fresh, local (whenever possible), and seasonal fruits and ingredients. Although the lineup of flavors changes more often than a teenager's rationale for breaking curfew, past sweet-tooth-sweeteners have included Mexican chocolate, crème fraîche with strawberries, and pistachio, as well as inspired culinary concoctions such as rosemary and wildflower honey. More intoxicating options include tequila gelato and the stout Guinness gelato, in addition to 100% fruit sorbet flavors such as blood orange, mango, and lemon and olive oil. Depending on how many flavors you want, order up one scoop ($2.85), two scoops ($3.85), three scoops ($5), or one standard metric breakup's worth of gelato (also known as a pint, $8) to take home and eat alone in your closet. Lush can split a scoop between two different flavors for indecisive multiple personalities. Sampling is highly encouraged, though scratching and beat-juggling is not.
Zazou's simple but powerful selection of café fare includes savory eats and fresh sweets. Stumble out of an ear-buzzing alarm-clock stupor with an Italian dark-roast or an organic, fair-trade medium-roast coffee before diving into a classic Nutella, chocolate, and banana crêpe ($6) or a hearty vegetarian crêpe stuffed with roasted red pepper, tomato, pesto, and monterey jack ($6.95). The hot pressed sandwiches see that cuts of pastrami, ham, turkey, or grilled chicken are lovingly squished between ciabatta or baguette halves with grandmotherly intensity, after receiving a number of pinches on the cheek and savory fillings, such as roasted red pepper, pesto, and swiss cheese ($7.50¬–$7.75). The meal-worthy Lebanese salad woos ravenous leaf-loving appetites with organic mixed greens, fresh tomatoes, and kalamata olives topped with feta cheese and pomegranate dressing ($7.25). Zazou’s also features a fresh soup du jour, with past offerings that include North African lentil ($3.50 for cup, $5 for bowl).
Founder and chef Rebecca A. Bernstein operates Cioccolata di Vino with the belief that her delectable desserts and enticing antipasti taste particularly divine in a laid-back, warm setting that resembles a hammock made of cocoons. The soft lighting envelops patrons in a gracious embrace, where it's perfectly acceptable to stop by just for the blissful dessert menu. Choco-hounds flock to the succulent molten lava cake ($6.95), where a moist, spongy coating covers a warm liquid chocolate, generating a cocoa magma stream down Mt. Esophagus. Candy up your kisser with the award-winning, gooey chocolate-chip cookies (three for $3.95), which arrive packed with rich Callebaut Belgian chocolate and slivers of pecan. The light but feisty lemon tart ($6.95) is crowned with a fresh whipped cream, while the rich gelati and sorbetti ($4.95) rotate their flavors daily and their buckskin capes fortnightly.
Bakers at CREAM - an acronym for Cookies Rule Everything Around Me - craft 10 cookie varieties entirely from scratch using a special family recipe. Available in flavors such as double chocolate chip and cappuccino, these sweets are sold by the dozen or used to assemble gourmet ice cream sandwiches in more than 16 different ice cream flavors. Staff members can also make 16-ounce floats, milkshakes, and malts.
CREAM's tasty treats are available seven days a week and until 2 a.m. every Thursday through Saturday. Along with catering to the late-night crowd, the crew caters events using either pre-assembled frozen ice cream sandwiches or live on-site ice cream sandwich assembly.