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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, pastries, and a standard selection of espresso drinks, four types of pre-made salads, 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.

Located in 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, try a slice of rich, frosting-laden cake, a 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.

Cosecha Mexican Cafe

Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a weekend brunch.

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 her favorite local roasters, owner Kristen Nelson crafts espresso drinks with care, accommodating customers’ whims and needs. If you want some snacks to go with your coffee, check out the extensive selection of locally made baked goods, sandwiches, salads, and 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.

The cafe, which replaced the beloved Mama Buzz in February 2012, serves up homemade sausages, pastries, beer, and coffee, all for under $10. Like its predecessor, the space hosts a gallery that features works by local artists.

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