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Jun 25, 2013 07:11 PM

Good breakfast and/or high end coffee within walking distance of Nob Hill?

I will be staying at the Mark Hopkins over the weekend, and would love suggestions for a decent breakfast and good quality coffee within walking distance. I did do a search but didn't come up with much. We currently have Absinthe and Izakaya Yuzuki on the list for more upscale meals, but would delight in finding something close by for the morning hours.

For reference I like Four Barrel and Ritual quite a lot (so I'd like someplace with a pour over bar or third wave espresso, want to avoid Starbucks/Peets if possible). Or am I going to have to head to the mission to find anything decent?

A casual but tasty breakfast joint would be great as well. I don't mind walking a lot or paying a few bucks if it's good. Your recommendations are appreciated!

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  1. Ah, the eternal quest for third-wave coffee and good morning snacks near Nob Hill! As frequent visitors, I feel your pain. There is hope, however.

    If you walk west down California four/five blocks you'll get to two options: first, a newer place called Flour and Co just off California on Hyde who is serving Stumptown, and then, a block later, Contraband just off California on Larkin, who roast their own

    I would hit Contraband for your pourover and/or espresso and F&C for some breakfast goodness. Contraband takes its coffee seriously, hiring good baristas, so I'd go there for your third-wave jones. Alas, I have had no success whatever with any of the pastries at Contraband in half a dozen visits but we liked the pastries we tried at Flour and Co last trip and there were more items that appealed, including savoury oatmeal and more substantial stuff.

    Both shops have a decent amount of seating. Contraband has a few spots outside if the day is fine also -- wifi

    Alternatively you could go south down Mason or Powell to Mint Plaza (you might want to Google the exact location as it's a bit hidden) to check out the Blue Bottle there That'll be more like 11 blocks but it is all downhill : -). Coffee here is again taken very seriously and you can get all the fancy pourovers/drips/cold fusion coffees you might possibly desire (I am addicted to their iced New Orleans coffee but don't hold it against me -- the SO is the coffeephile and he really enjoys the espresso based beverages here) in a very cool space. Breakfasts are a wee bit dear but delicious. Expect significant lineups, especially at prime times.

    The newish bricks-and-mortar Reveille at Columbus and Kearney northeast of your hotel in North Beach has tasty breaky offerings but the SO found the Four Barrel cappuccino he had there a bit weak. Lovely café though -- no wifi.


    12 Replies
    1. re: grayelf

      You guys are fantastic...thank you so much. I suppose just about anything will be an improvement over hotel coffee. :P

      1. re: grayelf

        Ended up at Contraband! Great coffee, color me a fan. Spot on recommendation! Thanks again :-)

        Ended up at Tartine one morning, and unexpectedly met a friend for donuts at Dynamo the other morning.

        Had so many great food experiences this weekend. It really is my favorite part about the city :-)

        1. re: yankeefoxtrot

          So glad Contraband worked out for you. As we're discovering, a good barista can improve a mediocre coffee and vice versa. I think the folks that work at Contraband are generally good, in our half dozen experiences there.

          1. re: grayelf

            Have you tried the beans at home?

            My hunch is a well roasted coffee they're familiar working with helps too. The flavors are bold and malty enough that even on an off day, you still get something that tastes like a solid cup of coffee with some interesting flavors that justify going out of the way for it.

            1. re: sugartoof

              I have brought Contraband beans home and ground them myself. They are pretty good, maybe comparable to the entry level Blue Bottle (Belladonovan) or Four Barrel beans, perhaps a touch below depending on the batch.

              1. re: W42

                I could see it being similar to Four Barrel, with that malty quality they both tend to have.

              2. re: sugartoof

                We took a pound home once and I recall the SO being happy with them. He's since gone over to the Dark Side, roasting his own beans at home, so no recent data.

                1. re: grayelf

                  Great to know!

                  Are you doing mail order for those green beans?

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    We took seven (!) pounds home on the plane, preordered/paid for by us and picked up by lovely Bay Area hound escargot3 at Sweet Maria's in Oakland on our last trip in May. Then we augmented with four more pounds from Mr Green Beans in Portland in June. But will likely do the mail order thing from either/both as our next trip southish may not be till October, alas. Sweet Maria's is pretty easy to order from. Haven't tried Mr Greenbeans yet but I suspect also a doddle. Just have to suck up the egregious carrying fees to Canada, gak.

          2. re: grayelf

            Help me out here: what is "third-wave coffee?"

            1. re: pikawicca


              To me it means not over roasted crappy stuff from Starbucks or Peets, usually offering a pour over or French press selection of single origin coffee. Espresso usually pulled ristretto.

              Oh, and a macchiato should never, ever come in a bucket sized cup drenched with syrup and whipped cream. If you order a macchiato and it comes that way, you are certainly not in a third wave coffee house ;p

              1. re: pikawicca

                It's the name some people use to describe the trend in hip pricier gourmet coffee places focused on carefully sourced, roasted and brewed coffee. Basically, it's a marketing term.

            2. All of grayelf's suggestions are good. Here's a few more:

              Another Cafe—that's the name—is only 4 blocks away, serves good Bicycle Coffee, bagels, breakfast sandwiches, panini and pastries from local bakeries.

              Since it's going to be the weekend, Sweet Woodruff opens at 9am, serves Front coffee and is only 5 blocks away from the Mark Hopkins.

              Chameleon Cafe on Pacific and Leavenworth (8 blocks away) has standard sandwiches/panini, salads, and breakfast stuff as well as organic coffee that's only $1.60/cup.

              5 Replies
              1. re: W42

                Ah, Chameleon Cafe! Glad to know it's still around. Only tried it once but on hearing the name remembered that I liked it very much.

                1. re: W42

                  Thanks, W42, and excellent call on Sweet Woodruff. The only caveat for the OP is that the Front Coffee on offer there is brewed (no pourovers or espresso AFAIK) and it's counter seating only if that matters. I so wish they did breaky on the weekdays!

                  1. re: W42

                    Does Sweet Woodruff have pastries and that kind of thing, or is there are full breakfast menu?

                    I just recall their cookies being shockingly bad, in an amateurish way, but that was when they first opened. Maybe they found someone who knows how to bake.

                    1. re: sugartoof

                      When we went for breakfast (back in November), Sweet Woodruff had a platter of example pastries out on the counter -- which was actually a bit awkward, as we were eating from said counter. We only looked at them, did not try, but they were available.

                      1. re: grayelf

                        Sounds right. Sweet Woodruff does a lot of awkward things (like heavy use of plastic office supply looking tubs for food storage, marinating, etc.).

                        Did the Pastries look good at least?

                  2. Farm Table is what you want, nearby.

                    Otis Cafe (which is really a takeout window) serves Four Barrel on Maiden Ln. near Kearny.

                    If you're going to do some walking, I'd say head over to Mint Plaza for Blue Bottle, or Coffee Bar on Montgomery.

                    Machine Coffee serves Four Barrel, closer to Civic Center.

                    You can also consider Sightglass for a destination closer than the Mission.

                    Contraband is really good, and mapping it, will probably be closer than some of these options, while others are technically much farther and will still feel closer when walking.

                    Worth noting for emergency only, there are La Boulangerie chains in the area (which is almost as bad as suggesting a Starbucks, but still good to know in a pinch), and SuperDuper burger chain sells Four Barrel. There's also Tout Sweet Patisserie in Macy's.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: sugartoof

                      Farm:Table has new owners as of last month, notice any changes?

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Thanks, I meant to add that disclaimer.

                        I haven't been in since the changeover.

                      2. re: sugartoof

                        I believe Starbucks actually purchased La Boulangerie last year, making it just as bad as suggesting Starbucks. Too bad, I used to go there until the changeover.

                        1. re: VanessaOwen

                          "Just as bad" or as I said "almost as bad", but really it's still a major step up from Starbucks at this point, even with the ownership change.

                          The coffee is no longer Equator, but it's better than Starbucks - and some of the pastries are still decent.

                      3. If you don't mind walking a bit, my tip would be to go to Baker + Banker for pastries. That would be about a 20 minute walk down California from your hotel, and worth it for pastries that are among the best in the city:


                        5 Replies
                        1. re: pane

                          pane, I am sending you a big cyber-smack on the cheek for that tip. I had no idea Baker and Banker had a bakery. And just look at that selection of savoury scones! Despite my addiction to kouign amann, I am generally a savoury breakfast person... do they do coffee there at all, or would you suggest stopping elsewhere for the java fix?

                          1. re: grayelf

                            Wondering the same about coffee :-)

                            1. re: grayelf

                              They were carrying Four Barrel, so you're probably in luck.

                              I have to say, it's not the most obvious walk though it really is only about 22 minutes away.

                              1. re: grayelf

                                Yep, it's fantastic. We always stop there to load up before road trips. Four Barrel, and usually prepared well.

                                1. re: grayelf

                                  It's easy to miss, the bakery entrance is on Bush, just around the corner of the same building. It's very unassuming. There is no seating inside, though I think there is a bench and few chairs outside.

                              2. Don'f know about coffee, which I don't drink. But a classic cheap diner breakfast is at Sutter and Jones, southwest corner. Recommend any eggs, pancakes or waffles, and corned beef hash.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: mwhitmore

                                  Hmm, the only breaky I know of at Sutter and Jones is Café Bean, which might work for the OP for food but not coffee (they specialize in Dutch pancakes but do good eggy things as well).

                                  Golden Coffee at Sutter and Leavenworth had decent corned beef hash and would certainly qualify as an old school diner, complete with brown crayon water passing as coffee. I loved it but less for the grub than the atmo. Maybe that is the place mwhitmore is speaking of.

                                  1. re: grayelf

                                    Yes Sutter and Leavenworth, sorry. And it wouldn't surprise me about the coffee. But I like the food.