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See the World Without Leaving Your Coffee Shop

Jenna Polito | July 24, 2013 | Food & Drink Story Eat and Drink

While there's nothing wrong with a drip coffee and a croissant, sometimes you want something a little more exotic. To that end, check out these four new neighborhood coffee shops, all innovators on the typical café culture, serving variations on classic Latin drinks, multi-component Japanese breakfasts, and international pastries. Hey, a cup of coffee is still cheaper than a plane ticket.

SoCal in the Mission
Earlier this month, Tierra Mia Coffee continued its sweep of the West Coast with the arrival of its seventh café and first Northern California location. The café specializes in espresso-driven twists on classic Latin beverages. In their baristas’ hands, Chocolate Mexicano becomes Mocha Mexicano, and horchata gains intensity with the addition of espresso and steamed milk. While it’s a shame that San Franciscans can’t sample the pastries that Tierra Mia bakers create in Los Angeles, such as Tres Leches muffins and Guava Cheese strudels, the new Mission location has partnered with Patisserie Philippe and Batter Bakery to fill the void. 3188 Mission St., (at Valencia St.), San Francisco

Portugal in Bernal Heights
The concept for Andrea de Francisco's café comes from her childhood in Portugal (the family is from the island of São Jorge). In the two weeks since its opening, Cafe St. Jorge has already gained the attention of a local Portuguese community eager to try her take on petiscos (savory appetizers to share), grilled sandwiches, and baked goods. House-made pastries include espécie, which are horseshoe-shaped Portuguese spice cookies filled with anise, lemon zest, and breadcrumbs. Silva Bakery in Hayward supplies the more labor-intensive egg custard tarts called pasteis de nata. The bolo de arroz, a light, lemony cupcake made with rice and regular flour, pairs especially well with their Stumptown coffee. 3438 Mission St., (at Kingston St.), San Francisco, 415-814-2028

Austria in the Panhandle
Before opening 20th Century Café, Michelle Polzine traveled to Vienna, Budapest and Prague, which she refers to as the big café cities in Central Europe, to scratch her itch for pastries. According to Polzine, there’s a café culture in these cities that she’s hoping to emulate in her latest venture—and it’s the antithesis of ordering coffee to-go. Instead, she wants customers to relax, read a book, or chat with friends while they eat a potato-and-onion-filled knish that’s done in the style of strudel, fresh fruit tarts similar to the ones she served at Delfina, or her very popular multilayered honey cake. More savory items are in development, but for now you can enjoy light fare that hints at the Central European cities that Polzine admires, such as butterbean soup with peppers, kale and paprika oil, or chopped salad with Bulgarian sheep’s milk feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado. 198 Gough St., (at Oak St.), San Francisco

Kyoto in the Outer Richmond
Cassava Bakery and Café recently underwent a considerable expansion, doubling its indoor seating capacity and expanding their outdoor dining area. That means more room for patrons seeking out chef Kristoffer Toliao’s much-lauded Japanese Breakfast ($10), which is now available on weekdays in addition to the weekend brunch menu. Other breakfast items, as well as lunch, are New American in influence (think upscale takes on classics like a “Thick Cut BLT + Turkey” sandwich with Fatted Calf bacon). Ritual supplies both the beans for Cassava’s coffee and the specially-trained baristas who create out-of-the-box drinks including a Spiced Honey latte with cloves, orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. On Fridays and Saturdays, Cassava offers a monthly-rotating dinner tasting menu for around $59. 3519 Balboa St.,(near 36th Ave.), San Francisco, 415-640-8990

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