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Arlequin

You know when you’re driving, tearing through the scan on the radio, giving each station .072 seconds to catch your ear with the latest Jason Derulo warblings or get passed on by? Sometimes, if you slow down just a little bit, you’ll catch a note of an old, forgotten, actually great song. Maybe it’s "Save Tonight." Maybe it’s "How Bizarre." Maybe it’s the Indigo Girls your amateur suburban hippie babysitter used to jam to. Whatever it is, you’re glad you slowed down your finger on the scan button, because now you can roll down the windows and sing the words you still somehow remember, and enjoy the fact that even though you haven’t thought about this song in 12 years, it rules.

Arlequin is that forgotten, magical song. On a busy street in Hayes Valley, with barely any signage and no tables out front, it’s easy to cruise right on by. This would be a mistake. The little cafe has great coffee, pastries, salads, and sandwiches, plus an enormous back patio/garden. Oh, it’s also just attached to a wine shop. Because, California. The people at both the wine store and behind the Arlequin counter are friendly and chill, and will even give you tips like "It’s cheaper to buy a bottle of wine than 4 glasses." And that’s why we keep coming back.

The cafe portion is airy with big windows, some bar seats looking out on the street and a few small tables, but the back patio is really where it’s at. While it’s usually in the shade, the backyard situation protects it from the wind and it’s generally always very pleasant. They’re totally cool with you lingering there for as many bottles of wine as the shop will sell you, and you can keep filling up on grilled cheese as long as the panini press is plugged in. We have yet to attempt to bring a Jambox to play our favorite throwback hits, but it’s worth a shot. Let's hope they like Guster.

Food Rundown

Pastries

All the pastries here are good, but the pretzel croissant and brioche donuts are on point. The coffee is good, and you need something to go with it. These are the things you need.

Breakfast Burrito

The thing has pork confit in it. Need we say more?

Grilled Cheese

Classed up with some olive-y pesto, this is an adult sandwich better than the ones you used to make yourself with Kraft Singles.

Veggie Sandwich

Not the usual tomato, mozzarella basic version. Tzatziki, peppers, cucumbers and a flat pita-like bread make it Greek. It’s awesome. Definitely add feta.

Wild Rice Soup

Chicken and rice for when there’s a chill in the air. So, anytime. Hearty and delightful. Not a bad move to get this and the beet salad.

Lamb Burger

With cumin and other spices, the burger is solid, but can be a little dry. The onion jam and yogurt sauce that come with help out, but it still needs a little greenery or something.

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