Between the pale green floor, big copper espresso machine, and tin-fronted counter, 20th Century Cafe looks and feels like it jumped out of a story about an idealized 1940s universe. Even on a cloudy day, the big windows let in enough light to give this place a sort of brightness that should only exist in worlds where children find secret gardens and people wear lace gloves. This Gough Street spot has a short menu of Eastern European food that’s fun to work through when you have no plans for the day, or at least want to make the 15 minutes you actually have free for breakfast before heading off to a meeting feel even longer.
There are pierogies with sour cream and tart plum preserves that are surprisingly filling and light honey cake that tastes like a tea party should spring up around it - along with our favorite lox bagel in town, which comes with the perfect amount of cream cheese, pickled shallots, and dill. It’s all good enough that you’d put up with eating it in a BART station at rush hour, but luckily, it’s in a quiet spot on the edge of Hayes Valley instead.