So, one morning last week, I was asked to be the photographer for David Chiu, the current President of the SF Board of Supervisors and upcoming San Francisco candidate for mayor. He would be going through several neighborhoods and I was to get shots of it. For his walk through District 5, he visited several businesses and met with many SF residents walking about town. He biked over to the NOPA area, and amongst the businesses he visited there was Mojo Cafe, our last stop for this quick and exciting rendezvous through the district. While the definition of “mojo” may consist of spells and magical powers, Mojo Bicycle Cafe in NOPA was a chill hangout, with a distinct San Francisco charm, even if devoid of anything I’d refer to as magical. In fact, it was a nice mix of San Francisco with an air of Amsterdam mixed in. Mojo Bicycle Cafe had a sweet but subdued sign out front, and the only way I’d really know that they served food and drinks there was the few tables and chairs they had placed outside, already with seated patrons. Many had bikes, though not all, and it was one of those rare but glorious days in San Francisco where the temperature was just right. This being our last stop for the day, all of us opted to order food here.
Now anyone who knows me knows that I don’t usually frequent the little shops where they happen to serve food. But I had been called out early on this day, and as unthinkable as it is, I had left without having my obligatory 3 cups of coffee in the morning. I also rarely drink coffee “just anywhere” — I am so picky about coffee. But my need for caffeine overrruled by tastebuds and convinced me to order coffee here, and due to the time crunch — we really didn’t have much of a choice except to order food Mojo Bicycle Cafe. The menu was an interesting array of sandwiches, each with a unique name. The prices were about upper $6 to $9 range for each sandwich. After reading the menu, we opted for Le Croque-Mojo, and Le Marocain sandwiches, both $7.40 each. The description of Le Croque-Mojo is described as, “toasted, open-face sandwich with french ham, gruyère cheese, roasted bell pepper, cucumber and lettuce”, and the Le Marocain sandwich is “harissa aioli, turkey, melted gruyère cheese, roasted bell peppers, cucumber and lettuce”. While the menu is simple, they did have one vegetarian sandwich option, “fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomato and basil, with pesto, balsamic vinegar and olive oil” along with a salad; they had a tuna sandwich as well as a chicken breast sandwich, too.
I didn’t expect much, only for it to be edible. So imagine my surprise when our order arrived and it looks perfectly scrumptious! I took a bite out of the Le Croque Mojo sandwich first, and it was an open-faced hot sandwich of melted cheese and warm, thin slices of ham — it was absolutely delicious! It was accompanied by a small green salad, which was surprisingly light and tasty. The classic combination of the ham and Gruyere was delightful, but the generous amount of cheese made this sandwich quite filling, though not a huge monster-sized sammy.
Just when I was thinking, “I’m going to have steal this sandwich and make Mr. K eat the one I ordered,” I took a bite of mine — the Le Marocain sandwich. With a sourdough bun, this was a nice medley of flavors. The bun was slightly toasted, and the veggies in this sandwich were very thinly sliced (rule #1 of sandwiches, in case you don’t know!). The turkey slices were thinly shaved, and the quality of the deli meat was good.
While one or two bites of the Le Croque-Mojo was dreamy, it was a bit too much cheesiness for me for the entire meal. For me – the appeal of a sandwich lies purely in the healthiness of a sandwich, and with that much cheese on it, I feel heavy after eating it, which works directly against having eaten a sandwich; I might as well have eaten a cheeseburger! My “Le Marocain”, however, was simply perfect — and filling, in a healthy and light way. The coffee at Mojo Bicycle Cafe was actually quite good, though nowhere near the caliber of their sandwiches. It tasted fresh, and was served extremely hot — and on a day when I have missed my morning cup of Joe, it hit the spot. There’s also something really cool about drinking hot coffee out of a glass instead of a mug.
Meanwhile, Mayoral Candidate David Chiu was given a tour around the bike shop portion of Mojo while discussing the specific needs of the district and other concerns of the owner. It appeared, to my untrained eye, that Mojo Bicycle Cafe sold bikes as well as repaired bikes. There were many bike racks in front, one of which was David’s, as he had biked around the city today as we drove alongside him.
It appears that they have a daily happy hour from 5-7 PM; the restaurant serves beer and wine in addition to a full selection of coffee and juices. On a nice day, they have the outdoor seating in front, and though I did not get a chance to see it, they apparently have a nice back patio behind the restaurant also. Definitely worth checking out.
Service: 7/10 Ambiance: 6/10 Food: 7.8 Addictive Factor: 8/10 Overall Rating: 7.5/10