We reviewed Little Bird Coffeehouse when it had been barely open for a couple of days, last July (what can we say, we love getting you the scoop). Back then they were focusing on solid coffee, didn’t have any food except for donuts from Bob’s, and were still finding their footing in the business. Since then, we’ve been to Little Bird quite a few times and have seen it go through a number of changes, slowly turning into a neighborhood favorite with a unique character and menu. So, it’s time we write an update about it.
The picture above shows how Little Bird looked when we first visited, right after it had opened. Below is how it looks now:
As you can see, now they have artwork on the walls. This is because since last October they’ve been hosting monthly art shows, like this one we mentioned earlier by SFAI students. The current show, “Lust and chaos” is probably our favorite so far, although we’re very curious to see the one coming up for V Day, opening on February 11th. It’s a group show about being in love in the Tenderloin titled, titled “TenderLove”. Besides the art on the walls, Little Bird has an overall very ‘artsy’ atmosphere, including hand-written business cards and several artist regulars. It’s only natural since Chelsea, one of the owners, as well as the newly hired chef and the two main baristas, are alumni of the SF Art Institute.
As you know, Little Bird’s first priority was to serve high quality-coffee, which they source from local cult roasters Ritual and De la Paz. They’re also one of the few places in the neighborhood who also have several quality tea options, including loose leaf from Rishi, chai from Parisa in the Mission, and a Cambric Earl Grey Latte that is apparently a specialty from Denver (or at least the name is). We’re pretty sure they’re the only place in the Tenderloin who serves kombucha, and in the weekends they even make ‘Komosas’, which are Mimosas made with kombucha and orange juice.
But the main big change at Little Bird in 2011 is the addition of full-time chef, Nancy Felz (not pictured above), and the re-organization of the floor space to have an actual kitchen that is separate from the coffee counter. This means that now they have a breakfast and lunch menu that changes daily, as well as additional weekend brunch options and seasonal, freshly-squeezed juices. Most of the dishes are chalkboard menu classics, but with local, organic ingredients sourced mainly from farmers’ markets. Also, everything on the menu is vegetarian, and most items can be made vegan and/or gluten free (they also have vegan donuts from Peebles in addition to the regular ones from Bob’s). In spite of the tight space, Nancy makes most things in-house, for example the popular whole wheat waffles here with a side of berries, bananas and nuts:
Other customer favorites include snack-sized French toast donuts served with fresh fruit, or the spicy smoked tofu Reuben with Pepperjack cheese, avocado and fresh sauerkraut. When we were there last weekend, one of the brunch specials was a herb and chevre frittata with olives and roasted tomatoes served with rosemary potatoes, fresh fruit, and a roll. Chelsea told us she loves everything Nancy makes, so she lets her experiment with whatever is in season and use it in different forms. She added that the next step is for them to make their own bread, as well as their own pastries (Chelsea had a cookbook about bread in her hands as she was saying that).
Now, if only they could have outdoor seating for these sunny winter days. But more on that later…