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SF’s Best Free Wi-Fi Spots

Stay connected with our picks of the best (& worst) free wi-fi experiences in the city
By - posted 11/1/2010

Last fall, the Wall Street Journal reported on a sadly disturbing trend of coffee shops in New York City actually locking up their electrical outlets and pulling the plug on unlimited free wi-fi use for its customers.

Thankfully (so far) there’s no sign of a mass wi-fi revolt in San Francisco. So in the meantime while the getting is still good, here are the top wi-fi spots we can recommend in the City.

  • What’s your favorite or worst Wi-Fi spot in San Francisco?
    – Leave us a comment below and we’ll update our list with your best picks!

BrainWash (Folsom between Langton & 8th St.)

Pros: For us, BrainWash is a nearly perfect Wi-Fi experience. For starters, it has excellent coffee and good food, plus they serve beer and wine. They have outdoor seating available. You can even do your laundry here. As an added bonus, they have $1 pints of Pabst at happy hour. Is there really anything else you need? If they had beds, you could live here, and the staff would be your cool-but-not-annoyingly-so roommates.

Cons: Not a lot of convenient power outlets. Not in the city’s nicest neighborhood.

Your local branch Library

Pros: It’s nearby. You don’t have to buy a latte to use the Wi-Fi, and you can reserve a computer for free if you don’t bring a laptop. Lots of power outlets, and there are all these books around that you can read for free; it’s like a bookstore where you don’t pay for anything!

Cons: Don’t even bother with the Main Library; network congestion there can make connections terrible to unusable, not just on Wi-Fi, but reserved computers as well. Weird, nonsensical hours. You can’t eat, drink, or smoke anything while you work, and don’t you dare make a cell phone call; the librarians can and will beat you brutally.

Philz Coffee (Van Ness between Turk & Eddy)

Pros: Wow, this is good coffee. I mean really, really good coffee. The newest Philz has really comfortable chairs & tables, and it’s new enough that most people don’t know about it, so it’s nearly empty in the afternoons. That will probably change soon, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Cons: Expensive coffee ($2.75 is the cheapest small), I mean, it’s awesome and everything, but I’m just sayin.’

Also recommended: Mission Bay, Mission, Castro Philz

Peets Coffee (Van Ness & Bush)

Pros: Smaller and not nearly as busy as its Van Ness counterpart in Opera Plaza, this Peets’ most useful feature is having power outlets for nearly every table, something we’d like to see more of.

Cons: As with all Peets, you have to get a code to log in, and the code is only good for one hour. The staff is pretty nice about giving you a second code if you exceed your limit, but still.

Also recommended: Peets Opera Plaza, Ferry Building, Laurel Village stores

Quetzal Internet Cafe (Polk between Bush & Fern)

Pros: Quetzal has good food, great coffee, and gets extra points for having a fair selection of beers & wines. Parking is fairly easy on Polk Street and environs, particularly on weekday afternoons. And it’s almost totally empty in the evening.

Cons: Password protected & the password changes daily. Food is a little pricey. Most of the neighborhood parking is metered until 6 pm.

Also visit their location on 668 Union Ave. Memphis, Tennessee. No, really. It’s a chain.

Ritual Roasters (Valencia & 21st St.)

Pros: Quite possibly the hippest coffee shop in San Francisco, Ritual has outstanding, very quirky coffee, which is to say it specializes in seasonal, very small batch coffees. It has lots of tables, which it needs given the masses who come in to work or talk during the typical day.

Cons: Quite possibly the hippest coffee shop in San Francisco. And boy, does it know it. This place gets really loud, and can stay that way nearly all day long.

Café Que Tal (Guerrero & 22nd St.)

Pros: Que Tal is surrounded by easy, unmetered parking. It has nice light and high ceilings, and an absolutely huge selection of teas. Unpretentious and usually pretty quiet.

Cons: Staff can be a little careless, and the coffee is generally good, but can be inconsistent.

Coffee to the People (Masonic and Haight)

Pros: Coffee to the People has a really homey, relaxed atmosphere, and a kitschy collection of political posters, bumper stickers and buttons: let the revolution begin, comrades!

Cons: It can get rather loud in the afternoons. Curiously-scented hippys & uncaged high school students may lurk there.


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