Little Bird Coffeehouse in the Tenderloin! »
VEGAN BREAKFAST ALERT! One of the hardest things for vegans in this city to find is a suitable breakfast or brunch option. Well, there’s a new sheriff in town and they put a motherfucking bird on it! Little Bird Coffeehouse is a fairly new place in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood that serves up all kinds of vegan breakfast and brunch options, including damn good gluten-free blue corn waffles (covered in fresh fruit, maple syrup, and Earth Balance!), damn good vegan breakfast sandwiches (made with Soyrizo, tofu scramble, vegan cheese and magic), and lots of other damn good vegan stuff like donuts and muffins and other fantastic shiz. Also, various types of non-dairy milk for your coffee and tea beverages! It’s no-frills, with a counter for ordering and some rickety tables and chairs to enjoy your goodies. This place is a little interesting because it’s like stepping through a tear in the fabric of the universe and ending up in the Mission. When I’ve eaten there, its been infested with miner bros* ordering espresso and reading David Foster Wallace. Not a bad scene, just FYI.
I’d bring your friends, wife, LOVAS, kids. And I’d hide your parents unless they’re OK with no table service and enjoy listening to Ani Difranco whine about the 1990s. It’s really nice to have some more options in this area of town and I’d like to see them be the little bird that could so get on down there and eat some some breakfast panini.
Soyrizo breakfast sandwich
Little Bird Coffeehouse is at 835 Geary St. (at Larkin), (415) 440-2165, open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CASH-ONLY, Y’ALL.
*TM Kate Losse. It refers to a specific type of dude who wears plaid shirts and scruffy beards, à la gold miners. I will demonstrate:
Real gold miner
Sugarlump Coffee Lounge on 24th Street in the Mission is serving organic, vegan tamales. Get some before we EAT THEM ALL!
Thanks, Ed! For the pic & tip! You are very good looking!
Philz Coffee vs. Rodger’s Coffee and Tea! »
Why am I comparing the two? Because one, I love to pit friends against each other in a bloody battle for my affections and two, they both specialize in “One Cup at a Time” coffee. If you live under a rock (or not in the Mission), what that means is, you choose exactly what type of beans you want, and they grind and brew them, mix in your desired quantities of sugar and soy milk, and deliver your dream coffee beverage. IN THEORY. In reality too, actually. After visiting both multiple times and sampling their wares, I can safely say: all this shit tastes the same, might as well be Folgers. If you’re looking for a detailed breakdown of the nuances and complexities and all that made-up bullshit people like to talk, look elsewhere! Hey Condescending Jerkface, this site isn’t called Pretentiosaurus! Although, maybe it should be. Let’s put that in the hat for our next meeting.
So, I’m gonna talk about the pros and cons in terms of vegan baked goods, and the general feeling I get from the place; that’s just how it works around here.
Vegan baked goods
Philz: Carries vegan donuts from People’s Donuts: you’ve come a long way, baby! These are SO MUCH better than when they debuted. In fact, they are downright delicious and come in a variety of flavors, from Newman’s Own (CRUSHED COOKIES ON TOP OF A DONUT. Take a minute.) to blueberry to Bac-O-Bits (!? I don’t know, whatever, I guess the vegans want in on a slice of the bacon money. Because you can serve human shit as long as it’s wrapped in bacon and a group of devotee dumbasses will slurp it up. UGH GROSS). They are all excellent but my favorite remains the cinnamon sugar. Perfect. They also sell Zoe’s Cookies' banana-walnut chocolate-chip cookies, and they are incredible; maybe my favorite vegan cookie in wide circulation in SF? Yes, I think so. They sometimes have some vegan loaf breads but I haven't seen those lately. They are tasty.
Rodger’s Coffee and Tea: VEGAN BEIGNETS CAN I HEAR SOME NOISE FROM THE BACK!? Yes, they sell vegan beignets. Yes, the fluffy fried dough balls covered in powdered sugar. And yes, I want to marry them. They are soooo delicious and rich and you feel like you’re eating a funnel cake and ugh, they are so amazing. One of the best vegan baked (fried?) goods I’ve had ever and a reason to visit Rodger’s alone. WARNING: they are only available on weekends! But maybe if we are always buying them all, they will get wise and know to carry them every day, even Christmas. ESPECIALLY CHRISTMAS.
They also sell an excellent mushroom-and-spinach vegan empanada. Bring it home, heat it up (or have them do it) and enjoy your VEGAN HOT POCKET, BITCHES! And this one won’t try to kill you! They also have a large selection of vegan cookies from Alternative Baking Company (bo-ring but thanks for having them!) and some other vegan trail mix bars and shit. I don’t know, granola bars? Yawn.
General feeling I get from the place
Philz: Good. I like it. Kinda like your grandma’s living room if your grandma was kinda crazy and into the internet.
Rodger’s Coffee and Tea: Good. I like it. Kinda doesn’t seem to know if it wants to serve hipsters or yuppies so hey, let’s hit up both! Whatever, did I mention VEGAN BEIGNETS? Not tons of seating but you’re close to Dolores Park so go there anyway. Bench out front is good for judging LAME AND HIDEOUS* passersby.
BONUS QUESTION: Have I met this “Rodger” and/or this “Philz”?
Philz: His name is Phil and yes, he’s very nice! Also, a friend of mine was Phil once for Halloween and it was amazing.
Rodger: No, but his friend came to a Rocket Dog Rescue fundraiser and gave out coupons for a free cup of coffee! He seems like a good guy to me. These coupons are actually a genius take on the frequent buyer card: your first cup of coffee is free, as well as your last. (Does Philz even have a frequent buyer card? If they do, they don’t market them very well!)
Why not go to both!? Start at Philz, grab several donuts, eat on way to Rodger’s, buy beignets and empanadas, eat on way to Philz. Repeat. YOU’RE WELCOME.
Breakroom Cafe! »
Somewhere in my brain there exists a template for the ideal vegan restaurant. I can’t tell you exactly what it is because I don’t totally know myself. Somewhere in the intersection between Candle 79 in New York, and Paradox Cafe in Portland, perhaps? Does that even make sense?
The Breakroom Cafe, I’m sorry to say, is not that perfect restaurant. I kinda psyched you out with that first paragraph though, right? Well, it’s not and here’s why. First, it isn’t completely vegan. On the bright(er?) side, it’s entirely vegetarian and just about everything on the menu is vegan or easily veganizable, although they do charge extra for a switch to vegan cheese or soy milk (boo!) This by no means detracts from its awesomeness—this is not a negative review!—as they still manage to hit several of my vague notions squarely on the head.
Point One: Delicious sandwiches, large variety of. Like Ike’s in San Francisco, Breakroom offers up some fantastic vegan sandwiches that go above and beyond a PB&BO-RING. Unlike Ike’s, they’re not looking to reinvent the wheel here with crazy new flavor combinations. Instead, they feature old standards like a two-layer club sandwich or turkey and bacon on truly excellent breads. The meatball sub features really good homemade meatballs, too! For an extra $2.25, you can get the sandwiches with a side of excellent vegan potato salad that they make there. The potato salad is pretty crazy, it’s like the insides of a spring vegetable masala dosa from Udupi Palace did it with your typical mayo-full picnic potato salad and produced the most marvelous baby. A whiz kid, if you will.
Point Two: Delicious pastries, homemade. Everything in the pastry case is vegan, which includes—along with your standard Black China cupcakes—homemade cheesecake, cookies, and an amazing pumpkin roll deal that is just pudding/sponge cake delectability.
Point Three: Soup! I have not tried this yet, but another patron was having a bowl, and it looked right up my alley.
Point Four: It’s within walking distance of public transportation, only a few blocks from the 12th St. Bart station in Oakland. It’s also between the Oakland FiDi and Chinatown so it’s great, convenient eating for business people and Chinese folks alike!
Also working in their favor are the facts that they are cute and small and have a rooster on their sign, which I’m guessing is a leftover from whatever restaurant was previously in the building. Genius move to keep that!
Points Five through Ten are on the wishlist, and all involve a deep fryer.
Review: Jim’s Coffee Shop! »
It’s not super easy to find truly old-school diners or coffee shops in the Bay Area. In New York City, you can find one on every corner. If you haven’t eaten coleslaw out of a vat infested with maggots, you aren’t really a New Yorker. I’m looking at you, Waverly Diner! Anyway, there is something comforting in sitting down in a place where the waiters speak Greek or Russian or Armenian and are slow AND rude and all there is for a vegan to order is a plate of hash browns the size of your face. If you’re feeling nostalgic for a true diner, then head to Jim’s Coffee Shop in Alameda. You will not regret it. Just don’t ask for soy milk. You will regret that.
Jim’s is also special to me because I saw the most awesome fight outside of this place. It started as a fender-bender and ended in…well, you’ll see. Here’s how it went down. This one car rear-ends this other car. Like a very light tap. I mean, if it had been my minivan, I would’ve waved the other dude good-bye, saying something like, “Have you SEEN my car? It might be a high-powered piece of automotive genius on the INSIDE but a ding on the outside? Keep moving, buddy!” because I mean, really. If I have one ding, I have a hundred. Literally. I have 100 dings on my Kia.
Anyway, the guy who is hit freaks out and motions for the other dude to pull over. Now, I’m watching this whole thing with some French fries in hand—I think this adds to the appeal of the whole thing, the entire time I am watching this, I am casually munching on french fries—the dude who was hit gets out of the car and he’s bright red. Like a scary, big, mean red man of anger and rage. I know some bad (if not interesting) shit is about to hit the fan. I inch closer. The other dude gets out, looking like your average middle-class white dude; he doesn’t seem particularly mad.
And so our story unfolds:
The Super-Agro Man of Rage (SAMOR) is all, “What the fuck, man? You put a dent in my Nissan, man! I just got this car fixed, man! That is fucked up, man!”
Middle-Class White Dude (MCWD) is all, “I’m sorry, let’s check out the dent and see if we can have our insurance talk it over.”
SAMOR is all, “Man, that shit ain’t right! Insurance talk it over man, nah. We’re going to deal with it right here.” (NO SHIT, THIS IS WHAT HE SAID)
MCWD and Laura B are all, “What?”
SAMOR is all, “You heard me, son! I’m about to fuck you up!”
MCWD looking around, obviously totally weirded out. “Uhh…”
SAMOR starts to move closer to MCWD. MCWD is backing away being all, “I think this is best solved through our insurance companies.”
SAMOR is all, “Didn’t you hear me, man? We’re gonna settle this now!”
MCWD is getting more annoyed and starts to roll up his sleeves and is all, “OK, dude,” and starts to move towards SAMOR, at which time SAMOR starts to yell, “HELP! POLICE! THIS MAN IS GOING TO ATTACK ME!!!!”
NO SHIT!!!! He starts waving his arms wildly and screaming for help. I could not make this shit up. Well, maybe I could but i’m not. I swear. There are witnesses. All of them dead or living in Canada.
MCWD is all, “Dang, you are crazy!” and starts to go back to his car, at which time SAMOR is all, “What? You scared of me, bro? You want a piece?” and proceeds to pick a bottle up off the ground and throw it in MCWD’s direction. MCWD whips around and starts heading back to SAMOR, and SAMOR once again starts screaming, “HELP! SOMEONE CALL THE POLICE! 911! HELP! POLICE!”
At this point, I literally drop my French fries and pull out my cell phone because I’m not quite sure some bad shit is about to go down, but I know some freaky shit is currently going down. I call the police.
MCWD is all, “Fuck this, you are crazy,” and starts to move back to his car, and SAMOR is all, “Oh that’s right, walk away you pussy bitch! I knew it, bitch!” and MCWD is just shaking his head, and SAMOR runs after him, passes him, hits MCWD’s car really hard with his fist and runs back around the other side of the car. At this point, MCWD just loses it and is chasing SAMOR around his car while SAMOR yells, “HELP! POLICE!”
The police finally arrive and I’m forced to give witness to what I just saw. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I’m not quite sure what just went down in front of me. I testify to the best of my ability and head back into Jim’s for another to-go order of french fries.
Moral of this story, kids? Stay the fuck away from meth.
[photo via yelp]