Flour & Co: A Nob Hill Heaven

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Flour & Co. Pros and Lows
Flour & Co. is, um, awesome. They have house-made gluten-free English muffins and Stumptown Coffee, I mean really, do I need anything else? Ok, fine, cookies sure. They’re super nice, the place is adorable and the other lunch items are equally attractive. Honestly slightly relieved this is located across town or else I’d live there. And last time I checked it wasn’t the best idea to live on chocolate chip cookies alone.

Local Mission Eatery: More Mission Deliciousness

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Local Mission Eatery Pros and Lows
Local Mission Eatery does a lot. Part cafe, part coffee shop, part fine(ish) dining – and everything on all the menus is, yep, you guessed it, with some local flare. The entire package offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch but I’m just going to make most of my noise about the back counter, aka, Knead Patisserie.

The little back counter is the outlet for Four Barrel coffee (no espresso) and a fabulous line up of baked things. You have to deal with that part prior to ordering anything else from Local Mission Eatery proper. I’ve no idea why they set it up this way and find it kind of odd, but the fact is if you want a delightful breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner on 24th St. in the Mission, here’s your spot.

Grand Coffee: Tiny Mission St. Goodness

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Grand Coffee Pros and Lows
Grand Coffee is amongst the great Mission coffee options. They’re a solid little coffee corner near 24th St. with Four Barrel, yummy sugar baked things and have two bar stools inside. It’s pretty straight forward. You’re not going there to catch up with a friend for hours. You’re not reading a book. You’re there to get you buzz, maybe eat a snack you probably shouldn’t due to early-onset diabetes, then move on. The people there – both getting coffee like you, and making it for you, have always seemed chill. A nice thing.

Haus Coffee: French Press on 24th St.

Haus Coffee Pros and Lows
Haus Coffee is a pretty perfect coffee shop. The hours are good (open early and late), the space is minimal, you can usually get a seat, the snacks are above average and the coffee is superb. It’s De La Paz and they have it on French Press, which is pretty tough to find in this town.

The Yelpers mention they have some grumpy people working there, which, meh, usually doesn’t bug me too much but when there’s Philz across the street and the people there shine rainbows ten ways, it can be, well, nice to have an interaction with someone that you know can at least deal with hating their job/life, which is the vibe I’ve gotten a few times. And. Then. Of course it’s the common lap top problem. They’re there which can be a blessing or a curse.

Cassava: Outer Richmond’s Cafe Gem

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Cassava Pros and LowsCassava is the most adorable little gem on Outer Balboa St. They do breakfast, lunch and dinner by reservation. I’ve been a handful of times for their breakfast/lunch service and would love to see what they do for dinner; however, I wonder, Would I feel like I’m having dinner in a coffee shop? It’s such a romantic little space, and the food/drink is delicious – I’m sure with the right company I could let that pre-conceived idea go. I admire (and want to support) when businesses try to diversify their menus and try earning more cred. for being something other than their original idea. Like when a bar starts doing brunch – why not? Yet again, I can’t say I’ve ever crossed that line… does Hog & Rocks count? I’ve been their for brunch (fabulous) but that’s not really a bar per se…

Cassava has Ritual and stellar sandwiches with little side salads. Will definitely be back – for dinner? Maybe! But coffee, absolutely.

Why I Love My Local Garden Store

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Overwatered every time

This is a post dedicated to the love of garden stores, specifically the Garden Guru feature through our local chain, Sloat Garden Center.

sloat_prosandlowsBeing a wanna-be urban farmer with an unhealthy appetite for houseplants, garden stores are a no-brain weakness. Walking into them and breathing can easily calm me down just the same as a professional massage. It’s no surprise when I’ve had access to a car, the first thing on my list is loading up on plants my typical carless existence can’t transport. Then cue the next problem: I live in a dark box, unofficially called the Cat Cave. BUT! Sloat Garden Centers know a few things about their customers (ie. I’m not alone) and they have special sections dedicated to our needs.

Sansevieria trifasciata, also known as snake plant, are a very hot seller for situations akin to mine – you’ve likely seen them around lots. Just don’t water them according to the Garden Guru.

I’m a bit perplexed as to why exactly I’m so impressed by this, given we live in 2014 and anyone can have just about anything ever – but for some reason, I *love* the fact I can email a local garden know-it-all my problems and s/he will email me back a solution! Please see below:

to: gardenguru@sloatgardens.com
subject: Leaf Problem

Attached is a photo of a plant I have a few of here in my dark studio in the Sunset.

I’ve bought a few of them from your indoor-low-light section of your Sloat location. What is the problem? Too much darkness? I hope you don’t say that. I so badly want houseplants but have such little light to offer them …

Thanks for your help!
Catherine Cole

from: Garden Guru gardenguru@sloatgardens.com
subject: RE: Leaf Problem

Dear Catherine-
The Sanseivera leaf shows signs of a root rot disease associated with overwatering. This can be especially true in a low light area. Since these plants are in the Agave family, they can get by on minimal water. Watering once a month, if at all, in the winter is sufficient. Allow these plants to go dry and place in as much light as possible to heal them. Applying Actinovate in early spring will also help.

Thanks for choosing to garden with us.
The Garden Guru

Saint Frank Coffee: The Fancy in Russian Hill


Local's Corner Pros and LowsSaint Frank Coffee has raised the bar on fancy in this town. The interior is very white, very big and commands an equally very large impression. This kind of approach to a cafe is, in some ways, brave, considering the shifting landscape of coffee-consuming San Franciscans. Unless you’ve been under a rock these past few years – the class divide has gotten, well, heated. Without launching further into this socio-economic debate, I’ll try to leave it at that – Saint Frank is fancy.

Those who work there (the few times I’ve been) have been super nice and the coffee is divine. I was surprised they allow the laptoppers there considering more and more coffee-businesses opt out.

Recipes from the Cat Cave:
Cardamom Pistachio Breakfast Rice

Cardamom Breakfast Rice

Cardamom Breakfast Rice

Doesn’t that look awful? If it’s green, and not a leaf, often yes. Also my bowl is blue and any good food-marketer knows that white is always best for food styling. BUT it’s delicious.

I’m a solo-living City dweller which often puts a very big challenge on in-home cooking and eating. If I have an open-window to cook, I often make more than one-serving since, one, it’s hard to often make just one of something and two, having left-overs leaves me able to do other things. Rice is a great example of this. But then it back fires … four cups of rice is a lot. I easily tire of vegetables and rice for days on end so I’m excited I repurposed some of it for breakfast.

/// RECIPE ///
1 cup cooked rice
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup shelled pistachios
1 tablespoon cardamom

mix it all together!

Local’s Corner: More Delicious Delightful Mission

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Local's Corner Pros and LowsLocal’s Corner is a gem. I’ve been for brunch and dinner and would go again in a micro-minute. Life just gets in the way.

The space, for starters, is clean, cute, and has a large open-kitchen that you can gaze into if you’re not into conversation. It’s the usual (awesome) local-purveyor focus, which, fine, could be called a trend, but I’d prefer it not – it’s just better food when it doesn’t come in a can from China, most of us agree on this. The unique approach to this is how they’re a pescetarian restaurant – a lifestyle that more and more food-focused people are turning to. I’m a fan and hope to get back there soon.

Workshop Cafe: Laptop Coffee Done Right in FiDi


Workshop Cafe Pros and LowsFull disclosure: I haven’t spent a ton of time at the Workshop Cafe, although I could easily imagine doing so. For the first time, probably in any cafe, in any city, I can say they blend the best of both ‘co-working’ and coffee-shop worlds. They ace the essential details. Outlets, yes, of course; clean space, check; good hours, yep; strong signal, yep yep; and they have stellar coffee (Stumptown) pour-over. Big yay. Then they go the extra ten miles by offering printing, scanning and even will run errands for you if asked (surely you’d pay for those ‘concierge’ services).

They have a pretty advanced system to get you logged on. Perhaps someday I’ll take advantage of such a great idea but for now I’m happy to have some Stumptown to-go (super handy self-serve station outside, too).

Shangri-La: Sunset’s Chinese Veggie Heaven

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Shangri-La Pros and LowsThe Avenues can make your head spin if you’re an Asian cuisine enthusiast. There is so. much. out here. I’ve also realized that just about most of it has MSG. Bleh. I’d prefer to avoid that at all costs, not to mention any sketchy meat products. Those two goals make Shangri-La a total win. It’s vegetarian and MSG-free.

The produce might not be uber organic, local, but when you’re craving a mountain of MSG-animal-free veggie chow mein, this is your spot.

Linea Caffe: Espresso, Waffles, Salads, Trend

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Linea Caffe Pros and LowsThere’s a lot that can be said for this little corner cafe. Linea Caffe has stars studded all over the place. An award-winning barista leading its own coffee label, mouth-watering Belgian-style waffles (which are the new cupcake unless you missed that memo), rockin’ salads, Heath Ceramics, almond milk, Square, a prime-time location (18th St./Mission), not to mention beloved local illustrator Wendy Macnaughton as their web designer. The space has a minimal design and zero tables – again – the urban cafe standard. If this place isn’t screaming ‘on-trend,’ I’m clueless as to what would. Just to complete the ‘new Mission normal experience’ I overheard a young boy-girl couple talk Google-office talk. They obviously worked there.

If you’d rather avoid the highly-paid tech-employed and want to sit down, skip it. If delicious waffles, espresso, and salads in a polished standing-room only cafe space are what you’re after, this place is a home-run.

CoffeeShop: A Mission Mini Favorite

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The day I first stopped into CoffeeShop was magical. It was a bright Sunday afternoon. I was mildly hungover from the night prior, but not a sad-hungover, a happy one. My girlfriend and I were in the early stages of dating, meaning Saturday night involved a lot of cocktails – so many in fact, I lost my house-keys and her fancy car key. The hangover/honeymoon-bliss kept the panic at bay, instead I had the simple approach;

Might as well retrace my steps and see if I can find these keys…

And I did! When the hell does that ever happen? When the nice elderly owner of the now closed bar, Naps, finds them and saves them. Yes, that old-school dive on Mission St. that is now hipstered out as Virgil’s was once Naps and the owner was the nicest guy, who also happened to save me a fortune in key-replacement costs. After that epic win, my attention was pulled across the street to the adorable jazz band playing outside a newly opened coffee shop – yes, this CoffeeShop. I couldn’t help but to cross the street, get a cappuccino and enjoy the tiny fraction of peace life handed to me.
CoffeeShop Pros and Lows
I’ve been back to CoffeeShop a handful of times since and have learned that the ice-coffee is superb (they make it cold brew and feature coffee ice-cubes), the owner is also very nice, the baked goods are delicious and come from a friend of his in the neighborhood and so does the coffee (Ubuntu from Emeryville).

This place is miniature – like so many of them in the City – but a great option for the neighborhood. Will definitely be back when I can.