Eating at coffee shops can sometimes mean resorting to dry loaf cakes, sad breakfast sandwiches, or questionable grab-and-go salads. Not at the places on this list. Whether you’re looking for grain bowls and charcuterie with some cold brew, a shot of espresso and a substantial lunch, or just a truly excellent pastry to have with your latte, you’ll find it here. One thing’s for sure: be prepared for a lot of toast.
Imagine the ideal bookstore cafe, and you’ll probably be picturing something like Little Oddfellows. Which is fitting, because it’s right next to the cookbook section at The Elliot Bay Book Company. Their panini (get the ham and cheese), grain bowls, homemade pastries, and espresso drinks are excellent—and they taste even better while you’re getting through that stack of brand new magazines.
Mr. West Cafe Bar
When you’re in the mood to set up camp in a very attractive all-day space with a lot of plants, marble, art, and gold accents—and consume things like a matcha latte and some curried avocado toast—head to Mr. West. The pastries here are great (we like the cornflake-crusted cream donut from Fuji and the homemade oreos from Standard Bakery), and they also do classy panini and salads at lunchtime. When Happy Hour strikes, they break out cheese boards, really good kettle chips from Long Island, and a frozen “springria” slushie. We’d gladly live here.
Cherry Street Public House specializes in Middle Eastern dishes, so expect to eat things like falafel, gyros, and Persian chicken stew—in addition to avocado toast—with your coffee. They stock the good barista brand of almond milk (plus beer and wine, if that’s more your speed), and the pastries are tasty, too.
If you want to eat a giant, messy sandwich and drink an oat milk latte laced with CBD and housemade salted caramel, you can do that at Cafe Hitchcock. This is an attractive spot from the same people who run Hitchcock Deli, so you know the food is going to be delicious. The Puerco (braised pork, ham, cabbage, pickled fresno chili, and cilantro aioli on a long potato roll) is the best sandwich in the house, but the Italian with homemade cold cuts is a good choice, too—and even the quinoa kale salad is worth your time. They also have smoothies if you’re just looking for an espresso shot and some nutrition.
Coyle’s is a neighborhood cafe in Greenwood, and our favorite thing here is the cretzel (which, as you might expect from the name, is a cross between a pretzel and a croissant). The space has a few tables for you to get some work done—just bring your Moleskine, since there’s no WiFi.
Speaking of places that don’t have WiFi, Preserve & Gather is another spot where you might need to get creative about how to spend your time—you could hold an interview here, finally finish your paisley-themed adult coloring book, or catch up with that friend of yours who quit social media yesterday and won’t shut up about it. The whole (attractive) space looks like the common lounge of a newly built high-rise, and the high-quality food ranges from homemade yogurt to toast with homemade jam to meat and cheese plates.
The London Plane
The London Plane is a lot of things. It’s a cafe, wine bar, bakery, market, flower shop, and (last but not least) a restaurant. Use it if you want to spend a couple of hours somewhere extremely charming, but are also in the mood for a lighter lunch that’s not just mixed greens with radishes. We like the chickpea-feta grain salad and rice-crusted halibut in harissa curry. Afterwards, undo every nutritionally sound decision you’ve made here with a homemade sea salt chocolate chip cookie. Or four.
Volunteer Park Cafe & Pantry
One of our favorite places to grab a coffee and some food during the day, including outstanding pastries like crumb cake muffins, puffy babka rolls slathered in fudge, and a buckwheat chocolate cookie that is just straight-up sorcery. If you're hungry for something more substantial, head straight for the BEC on a homemade toasted poppy bun.
You’re coming to this neighborhood cafe for a quiche, frittata, housemade pastry, or breakfast sandwich with crispy bacon and an incredible basil aioli. But the lunch showing here is also strong—you’re going to want to get the Madison Street Special (smoked turkey, white cheddar, apples, basil aioli, cranberry sauce, and arugula on cider wheat bread). The sandwiches travel well, but we also like eating them at one of the snug space’s few tables.