Readers Cafe: Another Reason to Visit Fort Mason's Book Bay

Friends of the SF Public Library
Do you know about the Book Bay, the Friends of the San Francisco Library store at Fort Mason? Did you know that it has the best (uncurated) selection of used cookbooks in the city? Omnivore's Celia Sack and SFoodie both think so. Over the years, SFoodie has scored dozens of our favorite cookbooks there ― Julia Child, Paula Wolfert, Elizabeth David, M.F.K. Fisher, and a set of regional Indian cookbooks from the subcontinent that we cook from all the time.

On Friday, the Friends added Readers Cafe at the back of the store. As with the bookstore, the proceeds from the cafe support San Francisco's public libraries. Manager Christopher Ward says that he's trying to make the cafe as SF-focused as possible. So far, that means Blue Bottle coffee, Read Blossom tea, Goody Goodie cookies, Kika's Treats, and Clairesquares ― and as Readers Cafe develops a following, Ward plans to expand the menu to include the savory dishes that regulars want. "You can grab a cup of coffee, a glass of wine or beer, and browse the shelves of the store," he says (or sit with a laptop ― the cafe has Wi-Fi).

When we stopped by on Saturday, for instance, it took us 30 minutes to look over the shelves and shelves of cookbooks, and we don't dawdle. Like every used-book store, there's a ton of chaff, but San Francisco's library friends have great taste in cooking, and there's a dearth of the microwave and diet cookbooks that dominate thrift-store shelves. Setting aside another half-dozen books SFoodie wishes we could have bought, we took home these two cookbooks to fill the gaps in our collection ― for $12, about half the price they would have cost at Green Apple, our other favorite source for used cookbooks.

Readers Cafe: Building C, Fort Mason Center, 724-7512; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily (will expand to 9 p.m. at some time in the future).

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.

Location Info



Readers Bookstore

Building C, Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, CA

Category: General

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