Italy and Spain, of course, have taken turns ruling bits of each other over the centuries.
As if to honor this long entwinement, the café offers a casually international menu, with definite Italian flourishes along with Spanish touches spoken in a New World accent. You can get bagels smeared with lox and cream cheese, or with hummus; you can get a PB&J or a sandwich with pepperoni, mozzarella, and pesto. You can get Chilean-style empanadas ($3 each), half-moon shaped pastry pouches filled with shredded chicken or just vegetables which might mean mostly spinach.
There's a minestrone soup ($4.50) whose thick, spicy tomato sauce and flotsam of white beans and pasta would do credit to many an Italian restaurant. The soup goes nicely with, perhaps, a turkey and Swiss sandwich ($5.95), which would be totally all-American if not for the swoosh of hummus on the top slice of whole-wheat bread. Even a five-bean salad ($3.25), a staple of midsummer picnics, features a broad constituency of legumes: black, pinto, lima, and green beans, along with chickpeas.
Not all recent changes in the Mission are awful, if we factor into our judgment L's Caffe's commitment to organic agriculture all the coffee beans are organic, as is much of the food and to reducing its waste stream through a conscientious program of composting and recycling. As someone who recently had a burrito at a long-beloved taqueria (also in the Mission) and was horrified to see a reckless flow of aluminum foil, Styrofoam, and other manufactured leavings into the garbage, I can tell you that this matters.
Mon.Fri., 7 a.m.7 p.m.; SatSun., 8 a.m.5 p.m.
4901 Mission, SF
Beer and wine
Mon.Thurs., 6 a.m.9 p.m.; Fri., 6 a.m.10 p.m.; SatSun., 7 a.m.9 p.m.
2871 24th St., SF
Beer and wine