The outdoor entrance to this small cafe is like the entrance to a knock-knock club, hard to find and not inviting. Keep faith as you enter and proceed into the dimness, rounding a corner to emerge in a small, lamp-lit space with the cafe counter to your left. Now take two steps forward and look to the right. The view astonishes. Mammoth columns reach to the sky inside the Oakland Rotunda building. As if in counterpoint to the sublimity, the cafe serves simple, reasonably priced fare — toasted bagel with an egg option, standard pastries, and a standard selection of espresso drinks, four types of pre-made salad, daily soup, and sandwiches such as turkey and roast beef. Free wi-fi and a comfortable couch, with several issues of Oprah and House Beautiful neatly arrayed on the coffee table.
With its savory Vietnamese pork sandwiches and occasional pig roasts, the Chop Bar is a favorite neighborhood eatery in the warehouse district. The owners are adamant about locally sourcing their food, and they also offer drafts from several Bay Area breweries, including the beloved Linden Street.
Located in the business district of downtown Oakland, this is a serviceable cafe for a bite on the run or a pleasant lunch break in the courtyard outside. If you have a sweet tooth, the earth tones that predominate in the decor are likely to bring chocolate to mind and trigger sugar cravings, which you can satisfy with a slice of rich, frosting-laden cake, pastry, or a sugar-bomb cereal such as Fruit Loops and Coco Puffs. There’s also a decent salad bar to offset the guilt of indulgence, as well as pre-packaged wraps and salads. The fair trade and organic-certified coffee is roasted locally by the McLaughlin Coffee Company in Emeryville.
Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a weekend brunch.
Talk about old-school: The Fat Lady's building dates back to the 1870s, and the bar has been in the same family since it was bought, refurbished, and reopened in 1970. It's now outfitted with well-chosen knickknacks — Tiffany lamps, stained glass, a sign rescued from the Fox Theater during its recent revitalization — and as far as the clientele goes, it's filled with whatever the human equivalent of well-chosen knickknacks is. Try the Mafioso (American Honey Bourbon, St. George's Firelit Coffee Liqueur, and steamed milk, $9 — looks like a root beer float and tastes like an alcoholic espresso).
Yes, it’s a coffee chain, as clearly broadcast by the ubiquitous franchise logo, plastic bubble cup tops, and obligatory seasonal latté promotion (fall is pumpkin, ’natch). But the owner of this outlet has done good by Oakland, bringing you the warmth of servers who remember your name; the great taste of treats from It’s All Good Bakery; and the groove of local jazz performers that pack the house Wednesday nights, starting at 7 p.m. Coffee by the cup is self-serve, with some organic choices, and espresso drinks feature decadent treats such as Triple Chocolate Mocha. Free wi-fi with no log-in necessary.
Located in the historic Tribune Tower in downtown Oakland, Modern Coffee is Oakland’s first coffee taproom. Offering a continuous rotation of the best artisan coffees from their favorite local roasters, owners Kristen & Robert craft espresso drinks with care, accommodating customers’ whims and needs. If you want some snacks to go with your coffee, check out their extensive selection of locally made baked goods, sandwiches, salads, quiche. Tea-lovers won't feel left out either, with plenty of varieties to choose from. Free Internet and a couch area in back, but no restroom