It would be a shame to miss Southie’s Café Arpeggio, nestled quietly in a green wooden storefront and marked by an unobtrusive hand-painted sign. Arpeggio makes a full range of coffee and espresso drinks, all the while brewing gourmet teas and tempting with pastries, muffins and a tres-leches cake that redefines milky goodness. The café also offers breakfast sandwiches, homemade ice cream (churned at their Fall River site), soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps in varieties to please meat eaters and vegetarians alike. The hummus and tabbouleh (stuffed in a ginormous wrap) were clearly from scratch; the iced tea tasted super fresh. While waiting for your order, indulge in a little retail therapy, perusing coffees by the pound and gourmet tea blends.
Feeling productive: Since Arpeggio’s open until 10pm., you can linger over dessert or use the free WiFi at one of the half dozen tables or sofa.
Feeling peckish: small coffee ($1.69), bagel with cream cheese ($2.39)
[398 W. Broadway, South Boston. 617.269.8822. cafearpeggio.com]
Architecture geeks will drool at the woodwork and pressed-tin details adorning Cranberry Café, but the food’s drool-worthy too, judging by the weekday lunch crowds. Cranberry Café’s front baker’s counter is chock-a-block with goodies, but check out the chalkboards overhead before ordering. In addition to coffees, teas and espresso drinks, Cranberry Café offers pressed sandwiches, smoothies, soups and wraps, not to mention real egg dishes and breakfast sandwiches. There are also highly snackable muffins and biscotti. Portions are normal, not gargantuan, and prices are very reasonable. Folks wanting their people-watching fix will enjoy the counter in the front window. They’re open limited hours, so keep the schedule close at hand: Mon-Tue 6am-4pm, Wed-Fri 6am-6pm, Sat 7am-2pm, Sun 9am-2pm.
Feeling productive: While the dozen or so tables can feel a bit snug during lunch, the vibe is friendly and the WiFi is free, with several places to plug in.
Feeling peckish: small coffee ($1.40), oatmeal raisin cookie ($1.45)
[704 E. Broadway, South Boston. 617.268.3553]
DOUGHBOY DONUTS AND DELI
Here’s a truly old-school coffee shop, with a drive-thru, even. You can enjoy your joe at one of the 10 tables, or watch the comings and goings on this busy section of Dot Ave., just down the street from the Broadway T station. Doughboy’s is also a deli; the pizza, salads and sandwiches are sold at the other end of the store. But don’t miss the yeast-raised, sugar-glazed, filled doughnuts—these babies will bring out your inner Homer. Even at the end of the work day, they’re worth scattering sugar (mmm, sugar) all across your shirt.
Feeling productive: No WiFi, but plenty of elbow room in which to savor the house-made muffins, donuts, breakfast sandwiches and coffee.
Feeling peckish: small coffee ($1.49), lemon-filled doughnut ($0.90)
[220 Dorchester Ave., South Boston. 617.269.7560]
Sophia’s is serious about its location in The Macallen Building, Boston’s first LEED-certified, all-green residential development. The meat and cheese sandwich fixings are all-natural, the coffees and espressos organic. The breakfast sandwiches, fresh-baked bagels, croissants and muffins are joined by veggie-friendly wraps, sandwiches, salads and soups. There’s even a kids’ menu, for little eaters. You know that a café offering grilled cheese sandwiches, BLTs and lox bagels is destined for greatness. And? They deliver.
Feeling productive: The space is airy, and the WiFi’s free for enjoying at the half-dozen tables.
Feeling peckish: small coffee ($1.50), bagel with cream cheese ($1.75)
[Macallen Building, 141 Dorchester Ave., South Boston. 617.426.1115. sophiascafe.com]