From the outside, the Nook cafe in Russian Hill seems like a very conservative choice. Outdoor tables, a chill vibe, no strobe lights, potted plants. It’s a safe space. But when you get inside, they do something completely insane. They serve granola with milk AND yogurt. In the same bowl. Would you serve a gin AND vodka martini? A ham and cheese AND chocolate croissant? No.
Besides the brief psychotic granola break, Nook is a solidly on-price, reliable neighborhood hang in Russian Hill for breakfast, lunch, and Happy Hour. It’s easy, it’s never too crowded, and it has a comfortable, homey vibe. So homey they store all their cleaning products in the bathroom. Russian Hill locals swear by this spot, but over the past few years, it’s felt like the food has declined a bit. Or maybe the rest of the food in San Francisco has just gotten better. Either way, we still end up popping in to Nook to grab breakfast, an early dinner, or Happy Hour from time to time. While they have their slip-ups - the occasional cold oatmeal an out of proportion bread-to-filling ratio on some sandwiches, Nook delivers on coffee, granola (when ordered correctly) bagels, and generally good quick yet classy eats. It’s also surprisingly affordable in a generally pricey neighborhood. Especially the Happy Hour. $1.50 PBR? Where are we, Milwaukee?
The free wifi on weekdays is clutch, and Nook also stocks a solid case of pastries, a lot of them gluten-free. On a nice day, it’s pretty ideal to grab an outdoor table, watch the cable cars cruise by and pretend to be a tourist.
The bagels here are exceptionally good for SF and they give you half a salmon’s worth of lox. Always a good choice.
Prep your taste buds for a lot of hot sauce because they’re pretty bland. Not bad, but not especially exciting either.
The actual granola is delicious. Make sure you remind them not to top it with all the dairy products in the fridge.
Good but small. You will need to eat more - and they have a tendency to over-dress. The beet salad with goat cheese and the shrimp, avocado, and grapefruit top our list.
We’re fans of the grilled chicken and pesto on a whole wheat baguette.
Too many ingredients, but not enough of any of them. Heavy on the ciabatta, which is good, but you’re better off going for a sandwich with chicken.