After living in San Francisco for three years, I had developed a pretty solid roster of the best cafes in town. While Cento remains at the top of my all-around list thanks to darn good coffee and a charming staff that has been known to make their favorite regulars personalized coffee cups as a surprise Valentine’s Day gift, a little Inner Sunset hidden gem takes a close second.
Hollow is exactly as it sounds: a cozy little cafe seemingly dug into the side of an old building. The ceilings are pleasantly low and the front room is snug and small. A delicious array of fresh pastries and artisanal chocolate tempts in front of the gleaming chrome espresso machine. Tins of tea guard the wall behind the busy barista (there’s only room for one), and specialty menu items like the vanilla bean latte with almond milk (my choice) as well as your simply great cup of Ritual coffee tempt the tastebuds.
A cast iron snail stands guard at the mossy green door, while hand-drawn window signs give the place a charmingly cobbled-together feel. Sure, the coffee’s on the expensive side (where is it not in SF these days, anyway?) and the wait can be a bit long if you duck in from a surprise rainstorm like we did only to find that everyone else in the area had the same idea. But to me, the intimate atmosphere and vanilla bean-studded latte are well worth it.