In any city, there is the genre of people who work best outside of home or office. Maybe they're screenwriters, maybe they're novelists, maybe they just like to buy stuff on eBay and pretend they're writers. Perhaps it's because L.A. has so many writers or self-employed people, but the Starbucks these days are more like a cross between a library and a bus station than actual coffee shops; you often can't get online and you can't get decent coffee, and certainly not a good breakfast. So, what to do?
There are four places around town that make excellent offices for those of us who can't seem to operate well - much less write anything - in a fluorescent cubicle. Free Wifi, great coffee, excellent breakfast: places to hang out with your laptop and get some work done while sipping a Gibraltar brought to you (no standing in line with a dozen people ordering triple venti milkshakes), followed by a recently baked smoked duck croissant or a poached egg with poblano chiles over a baguette.
The fact that these are all newish places isn't an accident either; consider it a form of Darwinism. That and the relatively recent conflation of awesome in-house bakeries, de rigueur La Marzoccos and, I don't know, maybe chefs who don't sleep at all anymore.
Grand Central Market
Opens: 7 a.m., daily
Parking: Validated, in the parking structure (free with purchase for only 1 hour)
Wifi: GCMfree (no password)
Playlist: Waylon Jennings, Britney Spears (not kidding)
Start with G&B Coffee: Find yourself a cool red barstool at the counter, then order a Gibraltar and fire up the computer. The coffee here (Ritual and Parallel; La Marzocco) is outstanding. The lovely thing about G&B is that the long, three-sided counter is right next to Hill Street, so you feel like you're at a sidewalk cafe crossed with a warehouse. It's fun and about as urban as this town gets. There are house-made pastries in a case at the counter (lemon-blackberry pound cake, brownies, chocolate chip cookies), but maybe get another coffee, finish your work, then go stand in line at Egg Slut, get a lox and bagel at Wexler's Deli (both open at 8), or sit down and let Valerie Gordon make you a proper breakfast at Valerie (opens at 9) if you want actual food. Then do some shopping (mole, spices, cheese, prosciutto) before you head out. 317 S. Hill St., Los Angeles; 213-624-2378.
Opens: 6 a.m., daily
Parking: Valet and street (free until 8 a.m.)
Wifi: The LINE (No password)
Playlist: Supreme Team, Tokimonsta, Okasian
Ah, the joy of being in the lobby of a hotel. Roy Choi's new Pot cafe - hot pot - restaurant-bar in Koreatown, is like Ridley Scott's idea of a Starbucks, with a modular nest of squishy booths each embedded with marble tables and high-backed chairs, a cutout milk carton of cacti in the center. The cafe, run by Momofuku Milk Bar veteran pastry chef Marian Mar, has the huge pastry case that greets you as you walk in, loaded with black sesame butter mochi cakes, red bean buns, Pot pies (haha), French bread pizzas and Hello Kitty cakes. Order a milk tea, a horchata latte or something engineered with the giant espresso machine and fire up your computer. If you stay long enough (until 11 a.m.), you can segue into the restaurant and get an uni dynamite bowl for lunch. And if you never leave, you can start ordering cocktails (the lobby bar opens at 11, too), and eventually just get a room upstairs. 3515 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown; 213-381-7411.
Opens: 8 a.m., closed Sunday
Parking: Valet and street
Wifi: www.republiquela.com (password = republique)
Playlist: Bowie, James Brown, The Psychedelic Furs
There are few things better than working in the most beautiful restaurant in town, powered by a La Marzocco, Margarita Manzke's glorious breads and pastries, and Walter Manzke's all-day breakfasts (kimchi fried rice, "Walter's Favorite" poached eggs and poblano chili with warm baguette, biscuits and gravy) under the watchful gaze of Marco Pierre White (big picture over the bar). And during bakery hours, until 3 p.m., you can have the place more or less to yourself. Or rather to yourself, the restaurant staff, who work at the long communal table, and a half-dozen local food bloggers - which is a whole lot fewer people than you'll ever manage after the place opens to the permanent dinner crowds. Bonus: You can watch them roll out sheets of pasta for dinner while you procrastinate. 624 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; 310-361-6115.
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Superba Food + Bread
Opens: 7 a.m., daily
Parking: Front lot and street
Wifi: Life Superba (No password)
Playlist: Dylan, Beck, Soggy Bottom Boys
With a huge deck oven and a front parking lot right on Lincoln, Superba is a wonderful place to head for baked goods on the Westside, especially since the early hours are about the only time when the place (and parking lot) isn't packed. For the first hour, you can order off baker Jonathan Eng and pastry chef Lincoln Carson's impressive bakery menu (smoked duck croissants!), and watch as the barista makes your Stumptown Gibraltar on the La Marzocco, shiny as a Lamborghini. After 8, there's Jason Travi's wonderful breakfast menu to try: house-made muesli, Moroccan eggs, a breakfast sandwich with a slow-cooked egg, linguiça and braised kale. There's plenty of seating, much of it fine for single people and their laptops, and the soft hipster music (see: a giant photo of the cover of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album on the wall) isn't any louder than the coffee engines. 1900 Lincoln Blvd., Venice; 310-907-5075.