The Best Places in SF to Camp Out With Your Laptop
When you need to do your serious, long-term thinking, and when you need inspiration, there’s no better place to set the mood than a bar/café/museum featuring a 10,000-year-old clock and clientele who use the inspiring space to ponder life’s greatest questions. But before you get to that, you’ll need to answer the most pressing life question of all: what am I going to have to drink? Award-winning bartender Jennifer Colliau, who created the massive drink menu (which is a history lesson in its own right), has recommendations for you. For something lighter, the “Breakfast Beer” featuring a low-ABV German-style sour beer with a dash of house-made berry syrup, is a delicious choice. Once properly armed with a beverage, you can get to all that important work -- like solving San Francisco’s rent crisis or refreshing Facebook until your friends can meet you for happy hour.
Best seat: While the communal table is great, it's got some moving parts that seem dangerous for fingers. Instead, head to the bar or the comfy leather chair in the corner if you like a little more personal space.
One of our favorite openings of the entire summer also happens to be a tech Shangri-La with Wi-Fi, outlets, USB ports (!), and hooks at every seat. The friendly owners (a chemical engineer and a brewer from Pacific Brewing Laboratory) will even lend you phone-charging cables for FREE. But you’re also here for the beer, which is just as solid, with both Black Hammer originals and Pac Brew Lab’s Squid Ink IBA and a hibiscus-infused Nautilus saison on tap.
Best seat: Hands down -- the seats at the bar that face the roll-up front window where you’ll feel like you’re outside while still having easy access to the outlets.
If you like to end your workday with live music, this funky little café/jazz bar that books nightly talent is your jam. Sandwiches, salads, pastries, decent coffee, mostly European beers (with a few local brews on tap), and both old and new world wines also join the party. Sip your drink of choice at one of the many cabaret tables and enjoy the breeze coming through the windowed front doors that create a cool indoor-outdoor vibe.
Best seat: The front tables along the wall offer both fresh air and your best chance of scoring an outlet.
Though the focus is on wine with 20 kegged vinos on tap, the food is more pub food than hoity-toity wine bar fare at this bi-level, wood-lined café/bar. (Also there’s beer... which you can get in jugs!) The “mashed potater tots” with rosemary, Parmesan, and bacon jam are especially delicious -- plus you get to say “potater.” Happy hour starts at 3:30pm and features beer and wine samplers at reduced prices, meaning you can make your deadline of being a little tipsy before EOD.
Best seat: Sitting just inside the huge windows in the front allows you to take in the breeze from the quaint front patio, and there are outlets right there under the bench against the window.
Blue Bottle coffee by day, cool neighborhood wine/beer bar by night -- this stylish Divis spot is kind of the superhero of cafes, effortlessly transitioning from a breakfast spot (with a rare breakfast burrito on the menu), legit lunch spot, and finally a bar that hosts trivia contests, food trucks, and pizza nights. Its multiple alter-egos cater to the eclectic neighborhood and offer the perfect ambiance for that novel you’re writing.
Best seat: At the communal table with a Broadway street sign built into it
Two words: Boozy. Coffee. Equator has made a name for itself in the Bay Area coffee scene, but this newish Mid-Market location is the only one to offer a dangerously delicious coconut White Russian, a “Naughty Brew” Irish-style coffee, a boozy milk tea, and a handful of beers and wines. Non-spiked coffee is also delicious, especially the Shakeratos (slightly sweetened iced espresso shaken with cream). Also: arepas, salads, and Honeymoon ice cream in case you want your liquid lunch to be more solid.
Best seat: The bar along the front windows and right side offers the only indoor seats -- sit there if you need an outlet. Alternatively, you could opt for the concrete stools on the sidewalk patio if you want to get up close and personal with Market and 6th.
This sleek, new(ish) space has everything going for it: lots of comfortable seating, a lively productive-feeling vibe (without being too crowded), cool local art, all the chai (and coffee) you could possibly want, 20 beers and wines, and a happy hour that starts at 3pm ($5 beers; $9 wines). A long banquet-style booth curves around one side of the space and offers outlets at each seat. If you don’t need to charge, you can saddle up to one of the two bars -- the main circular bar in the middle that churns out all the chai lattes or the smaller back bar where the booze is.
Best seat: There’s not a bad one in the house!
This spacious café tucked in a quieter corner of the Mission offers a huge menu ranging from breakfast sandwiches to an array of pizzas, salads, and sandwiches. The covered outdoor patio in the back is one of the loveliest in the city, offering plenty of seating and ambiance-making vegetation. Stick around later in the evening on Thursday nights to catch live bluegrass.
Best seat: Outside. Definitely outside.
Curiously, The Creamery doesn’t have ice cream, but it kind of has everything else you need: a full breakfast, crepes, salads, sandwiches, coffee, tea, beer, and wine -- meaning you can easily stay satiated for all three meals and after-work happy hour.
Best seat: Secret move alert! Head to the back covered patio space it shares with The Iron Cactus. It’s a great little outdoor area, it’s empty during not-lunch-time, and has a couple places to charge it up.
While the patio and front lounge offer free Wi-Fi for customers, the rest of the space bills itself as a high-tech workspace with a concierge service, requiring customers to check in with their Facebook accounts and pay $2/hour. But $2/hour isn’t a bad deal when you consider you get easy access to outlets, crazy-fast Wi-Fi, can plug into widescreen monitors, print/scan things, and even have coffee, beer, wine, and snacks delivered to your seat when you order from your phone. That’s right -- no getting up required, which is probably why we saw one dude sleeping at his desk while holding a cup of coffee the last time we were there.
Best seat: With outlets galore, there’s no bad seat in the house. If you prefer not to pay for Wi-Fi, the patio and front lounge are your moves.
If an English library and a dimly lit, stylish lounge had a baby, it’d be this Civic Center corner café. The lounge area in the back, boutique wines, and selection of beers on tap (including Almanac) cater to the after-work or pre-symphony crowd. By day, the place boasts a legit coffee program, complete with six methods of brewing, including the popular siphon coffee brewing machine and the Japanese Kyoto cold slow-drip coffee maker. And there’s at least one outlet in there.
Best seat: The private-ish booths, obviously
It's not near a whole lot honestly, but the coffee is designer, the beer is imported, the food includes stuff like the buttery kouign-amann (fancy French word for a cross between a croissant and a morning bun), and the layout includes both group tables and outlet-rich rails. Check out the bar’s handy seating guide here before you go though -- most of the space is reserved for laptop warriors, but there are a handful of tables that don't allow laptop use during the lunch rush.
Best seat: Upstairs at the counter that overlooks the first floor. There's easy access to an outlet up there, plus you can keep an eye on the line to time your coffee refills accordingly.
For a smaller, quieter space to sip and type, it doesn’t get friendlier than this charming, corner coffee shop opened by a couple of locals. Enjoy pour-over Sightglass coffee, expertly made espresso drinks, light breakfast and lunch items, and local draft beer and wine. In other words, get there for breakfast and you'll basically have no reason to leave until after happy hour. Speaking of, score a dollar off a glass of wine after 4pm every day.
Best seat: At one of the tables along the floor-to-ceiling windows. The farther away from the door you are, the closer you’ll be to the space’s outlets.
It’s hard to find a café that feels personal and cozy in SoMa, but this intimate little spot delivers both down an alley that's easy to miss. The space is a little tight, but if you order food (and you really should, considering this is ONE OF THE BEST SANDWICH SHOPS IN AMERICA) and a couple cups of coffee (or bottles of beer), no one's going to mind if you snag a prime piece of real estate for a few hours. Get there before the lunch rush (which starts as early as 11am) if you want to guarantee a seat, and order ahead -- it might sound weird 'cause you're gonna be sitting literally right next to the cash register, but you'll thank us when you look up and there's a 20-deep line down the alley.
Best seat: Any seat at the bar (they've all got outlets at knee level), but in particular grab one at either end so you don't screw up groups of two or three trying to sit together during the lunch crush.
Where else can you get Turkish coffee, beer, wine, and even Moroccan beef stew all under the same roof? Uhhhh, literally nowhere. Unlike bustling Philz Coffee a couple blocks away, this Mission coffee shop unicorn always has an open table and an outlet. While you have to spend $5 on food or drink (so... drink) to get the Wi-Fi code, the Internet is reliable, and this is the kind of place you kinda want to give your money to: family run since 1973, CLB offers a look back into what the Mission was before everyone else showed up.
Best seat: The left corner seat by the window has the perfect blend of space, power outlet, and a nice vantage point for evening-time live bands.
With stacks of books decorating cozy alcoves, exposed brick, and pendant lighting, this feels like the type of place to bring a typewriter instead of a MacBook. The extensive wine and beer list is terrific, the Four Barrel and bar bites are better (Japantown’s take on the classic Reuben featuring wasabi aioli FTW!), and the outlet-accessible seating is literally some of the best in the entire city.
Best seat: Laptop users usually set up shop at one of the personal tables along the tufted leather wall (I’m serious), but the communals are pretty great, too.
No, this isn't just a spot where a bunch of food trucks park -- it's a spot where a bunch of food trucks park that also has pitchers of beer, sangria, a coffee stand, a barn with outlets, free Wi-Fi, and flat-screen TVs. Come on a weekday after lunch and you'll be able to pick literally any seat in the house.
Best seat: Score a spot at the benches that line the sides of the barn for a little more personal space than at the larger communal picnic tables.
We're gonna go ahead and bet you don't know of many coffee shops with $1.95 draft beers every day starting at 3pm. Or bars, for that matter. The space is small but people generally take advantage of the sidewalk seating, leaving the large communal table and plenty of outlets free for those looking to set up camp. You can score the usual bagel-and-pastry breakfast fare, including pre-made, local breakfast burritos, but what you're really coming for is the cheap beer, no-fuss cheap coffee, and the, uh, cheap beer.
Best seat: The communal high-top table at the front window offers the best street views and easy access to both the bar and an outlet.
There’s something about being less than 100yds from a stretch of beach that makes work feel less like work. Java Beach Café has everything you could possibly want from a classic Ocean Beach hangout: good, simple coffee, great bagel sandwiches, draft beer, and plenty of surfers. Though the space is large and dated by trendy SF café standards, it’s ultimately cozy, owing to its friendly staff, extensive warm drinks menu, and sand dune views. The patio is a great place to take a break on sunny days or to watch a sunset if you HAVE to.
Best seat: Set up shop at one of the tables along the bench that wraps around the perimeter of the space to score outlets and a nice vantage point.
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Amy Copperman is a regular contributor to Thrillist who wrote this piece entirely in the places above. Follow her remote working adventures on Instagram.