I stopped in yesterday at Cafe Lo Cubano in Laurel Heights on my way to a movie. It's a beautiful renovation of the Miz Brown's space, full of coffee table books and Lonely Planet guides of Cuba, and it was packed in the afternoon.
The cafe con leche was exemplary; as good as La Carreta in Miami Airport. And I really only drink one or two cups of coffee a year.
The sandwiches left something to be desired though in terms of authenticity. The bread isn't thick enough, the pork loin was reheated, and otherwise it was basically an overpriced ham and cheese on a pressed bollilo. The pastries in the refrigerated case didn't impress me. Pre-fried churros? The key lime pie (my real impetus for driving across town) looked so limp and uninspiring I didn't try it.
Based on their website, Chuck and Johnny Alamilla are hoping to spin this off as a concept chain. It might work as competition to Starbucks, but it's not the Cuban sandwich or atmosphere that I occasionally get homesick for.
I also dropped by Peet's two doors down and learned from Eoim that several new rare teas had just arrived. He swooned over a rare ancient trees oolong--Ye Lang Xiang--($30 for an ounce) that he only had 3 tins left of. Okay, now he only has 2 tins. I wasn't that impressed with the Assam Khagorijan (which seemed a little flat unless my palate was ruined by the espresso), but I'm looking forward to trying the Yunnan Pine Needle and several of the new green teas.