Velo Rouge Cafe, SF
Impossible as it seems, I, the ever-loyal Peet's fan, have identified an emerging new favorite. A great place to enjoy my "for here" cup.
This is the type of place that prompted the saying, "Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks."
Look, for the record, I am not anti-Starbucks. I have my issues with a coffee company that calls itself a lifestyle brand, I'll admit. Mostly, though, I operate with the belief that you will usually get a decent espresso at a Starbucks. You might even get decent service. Rarely, though, will you get heart. Or soul. And, never-ever do you get that neighborhood-y sense of belonging. I prefer heart. I prefer soul. I prefer a neighborhood-y sense of belonging.
But more importantly, I prefer good coffee.
Unfortunately, as any genuine coffee snob will tell you, locally owned and operated rarely means great. I still try local coffee houses. I just don't have high expectations about the coffee itself. And, if the coffee meets my low expectations I don't usually return.
With Velo Rouge Cafe... I've been back. Often. And I don't live in San Francisco. So that tells you something right there. I recommend you visit. I bet you return, too.
You'll find Velo Rouge Cafe at 798 Arguello Blvd, at McAllister. On the approach, you'll see funky bike racks (red), an impressive black, white and red awning, and a life-size bicycle with red tires hanging above the door. At the entrace there is a fun magnet board with the letters you usually see on people-with-kids' refridgerators listing the hours. They were a little bit jumbled up but, essentially, Velo Rouge opens up early during the week and at 8 a.m. on the weekends. They close a little early on Monday & Tuesdays, have an amazing nomadic restaurant on Wednesday & Thursday evenings (look up Radio Africa & Kitchen on the website), and Live Music EVERY Friday night.
Inside you'll see a great black board menu announcing breakfast and lunch. You'll notice they've got beer on tap. Fat Tire, no less. You'll notice they've got cool finger puppets and the game Battleship on a shelf for entertaining the kids. You will also see bike tire repair kits available for purchase. In fact, you'll realize this cafe embraces the bicycle enthusiast. If you're like me, these things will prompt skepticsm regarding the coffee itself. But you'll search for syrups to flavor the coffee and see none. This will make you smile.
The drip coffee is (hold on to your seat) made to order. Each time I've had it, I have to say, I'm really impressed. It is excellent. The owner, Meg Lynch, has taken her cafe to the next level with beans from SF-based roaster: Blue Bottle Coffee. Coffee purists will consider it top notch. Those not quite so 'in-the-know' about coffee will still take notice.
The team that prepares the coffee (and the food) are welcoming and (again, hold on to your seat) seem to enjoy working there.
So, you get heart, soul, a truly wonderful neighborhood-y feel AND amazingly good coffee. For that I can only say, Thank You, VRC!