Cafes in San Francisco


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Lou’s Cafe: A User’s Guide

Generously Stacked Sandwiches | Toasted to Order | Housemade Sauces and Spreads

Sample Menu

  • Sandwich: LLB Special—roast beef, turkey, ham, swiss, provolone, and Lou’s Special Sauce on dutch crunch
  • Side: new england clam chowder
  • Beverage: iced caffe mocha

About the Owners: After 19 years in a delicatessen catering department, Ramana Brodeth knew her way around a sandwich. In 2010, she and her sons, TJ and Mark, opened Lou’s Cafe. One of them is always behind the counter, crafting inventive, satisfying sandwiches and topping them with Lou’s Special Sauce, a housemade garlic-and-herb aioli.

From the Press

  • “This family run cafe in San Francisco's Richmond District is exactly what a good sandwich shop should be - incredibly welcoming, with fresh, filling sandwiches at honest prices.” — SFGate
  • “The fixings are primo, to be sure, but its Lou’s sauces and breads that separate them from the San Francisco sandwich pack.” — The Daily Meal
  • “We're partial to the LLB Special on Dutch Crunch, but we think the breakfast sandwich is the most rave-worthy item here.” — SF Weekly

Inside Tips

  • Because seating is sparse, most customers take their orders to go.
  • Don’t be daunted by a long line—it moves pretty quickly.
  • To minimize your wait, download GoPago to order from your phone. When you get to Lou’s, skip the line and go straight to the GoPago pickup spot.

Vocab Lesson
Dutch crunch: also called “tiger bread,” this roll features a mottled exterior that hides a soft, chewy center. Bakers use sesame oil to lend it a distinct aroma, and paint the top with rice paste before baking it to create a cracked appearance and salty-sweet flavor.

While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Take a stroll through Clement Nursery (1921 Clement Street), the oldest in SF, housed in lovingly restored farm buildings.

After: Make a picnic of it and let the kids run around the renovated Argonne Playground (18th Avenue & Geary Boulveard); three picnic tables sit alongside the tennis courts.

5017 Geary Blvd
San Francisco,
CA
US

Panini: A User’s Guide

Italian Panini Sandwiches | Meat and Veggie Options | Coffee and Tea | Organic Italian Sodas

Sample Menu

  • Salad: Palms Deluxe—goat cheese, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, candied pecans, and balsamic dressing
  • Panini: organic roasted yams with feta, cilantro, and aioli
  • Cold drink: organic italian soda
  • Hot drink: white mocha

Inside Tips

  • Every panini includes a salad.
  • Save some room for candy; customers will find Mars Bars and several imported Kit Kat varieties at the register.

While You’re Waiting: Get your taste buds tingling with anticipation by checking out the glass display cases stocked full with paninis, baked goods, and other treats.

While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Play pinball and shop for shirts at Free Gold Watch (1767 Waller Street).
After: Buy a painting at Creativity Explored (3245 16th Street), which helps artists with developmental disabilities create, exhibit, and sell their works.

If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Trade paninis for the classic reuben sandwiches at Blue Front Cafe (1430 Haight Street).

1457 Haight St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Philz Coffee founder Phil Jaber claims in a video on his website he was “born to make coffee.” Given that he’s created more than 30 unique blends, it seems he’s fulfilling his destiny, like an electrician named Dwight D. Electrician. Along with hosting single-bean coffees from Columbia, Africa, and Yemen, Jaber blends coffees that use anywhere from two to seven different beans. Jaber agonizes over every aspect of each flavor, even the name. As he puts it, “I want to come up with names that match my products, my concept, and what it is all about.” Take his “Tesora” blend for example. Meaning “treasure” in Italian, Tesora is something you could, Jaber says, “put in the archive in your heart.” Jaber knows something about taking things to heart. His love of coffee is what led him to open his own coffee station, where he and his staff make each cup one at a time so it suits the customer’s specific taste. Along with a passion for coffee, the staff at each Philz Coffee location shares a passion for the earth. Each day, the company composts more than 2,000 pounds of coffee grounds, recycles as much as possible, and refrains from slapping endangered birds. The company also encourages customers to bring their own reusable mugs by charging the price of a small cup to fill the mug regardless of its size.

3101 24th St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Om Shan Tea's kitchen flourishes with vegan and mostly organic ingredients that are locally sourced when possible, but it also can be characterized by what it doesn't have. That includes a microwave, a fryer, gluten, refined sugars, and peanuts, with few exceptions noted clearly on the menu. The eatery crafts soup, salad, bowls, and open-faced sandwiches?which are obviously more honest?with fragrant seasonings and earthy, healthful ingredients such as adzuki beans, quinoa, coconut oil, hempseed, and kale.

Echoing the establishment's emphasis on community, organic tea is served by the pot in Chinese-tea-ceremony style. A long menu of varieties includes yunnan black, raw yerba mate, and tulsi teas. The establishment also hosts a full calendar of events, including concerts, dance performances, and poetry readings.

233 14th St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Stinging nettles; squash-ginger twist; Happy Feet. Frapez Smoothie Spa's organic beverages sound like yoga poses and are likewise designed to balance and detoxify the body. Hot smoothies pack in the same fruit-sourced nutrients as cold smoothies, minus the brain freeze and moist handshakes. Teas, such as dandelion leaf, and juices, such as the energizing wheatgrass, further support the Frapez mission of infusing lives with a convenient supply of nutrients.

Frapez's in-house nutritionist provides one-on-one consultations to help clients develop nutrition programs that fit their lifestyles. Detox programs combine the shop's smoothies and teas in regimens designed to clean out and energize the body's organs.

4092 18th St
San Francisco,
CA
US

Four Things to Know About Luv A Java

A cozy neighborhood hangout, Luv A Java is more than just a spot to grab a cuppa. Read on to learn more about this Noe Valley café.

  • Local artists enrich the scene. Works crafted by local painters hang on the walls, and every other Thursday night, crooners round the open mic.
  • Regulars rave about the coffee. Luv A Java’s signature blend marries italian and french roasts, so it tastes just as luscious straight up or in a café au lait.
  • Start your morning with a hearty bagel sandwich. Or have one for lunch. They also recently rolled out a midday menu featuring a veggie garden sandwich guests adore.
  • Spend your day here. Free WiFi helps pass the time, as do a library of books for sale or perusal.

1300 Dolores St
San Francisco,
CA
US