The Best Cafes (and Restaurants) to Bring Your Laptop and Eat an Actual Meal

The Cusco Sandwich at Plenty Cafe

The Cusco Sandwich at Plenty Cafe

Maybe you’re a freelancer with a few hours between meetings downtown and you want to keep up the productivity. Or there’s construction in your office building and you can’t get anything done with power tools grinding away upstairs. Or you work from home but you’ve reached the point at which you’ll freak out if you don’t leave the house today.

You need a spot to get work done — school, freelance, creative, or just catching up on email. You also need to eat, and as tasty as the croissants and cookies at most coffee shops are, they’re not exactly brain food.

We’ve rounded up some of Philly’s favorite spots to camp out for a few hours (or more), eat a real breakfast or lunch, crush your task list. For our purposes, we’ve stuck with Center City and adjacent neighborhoods; we also made free wi-fi for customers and an actual food menu (however brief) a requirement.

And for when the workday spans meals, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite trendy spots where you might spend a working lunch (and maybe happy hour afterwards) while chowing down on a more substantial, chef-driven menu.

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Go Eat Lunch Outside Today

R. Kennedy / Visit Philadelphia™

R. Kennedy / Visit Philadelphia™

After days of gray, rainy weather, the weather is warm and sunny — and it’s Friday. Sounds like the perfect excuse to treat yourself to al fresco lunch — without having to wait for a sidewalk table.

We have a list of quick, affordable, and delicious spots to grab a bite, coupled with the closest park, plaza or grreen space where you can get away from your desk, stake out a patch of grass, and soak up the spring weather.

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Philly’s Fanciest Italian Restaurant Kicks Off Weekly Lunch Service Next Month

Vetri/Facebook

Vetri/Facebook

Last year, Marc Vetri decided to open up the Vetri books to the city’s lunch clique. Initially, it was a three-month stint — a first for the then-18-year-old restaurant — and it would happen on the first Friday of each month for $85 a person. Of course, it sold out immediately.

So for the past nine months, he made lunch a monthly event, but, still, the people wanted more. So, starting next month, lunch at 1312 Spruce Street will become a weekly affair.

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The Meal-Prep Trick That’s Saved Me Tons of Money

I nearly start sobbing when I think about the year 2014, when I would go to HipCityVeg every single day and order the drool-worthy Curry Tofu Wrap for lunch. Every. Single. Day. I was young and stupid and had not yet experienced the big unexpected bills caused by broken cars or broken pets or a broken body that everyone talks about having a savings account for. So away went hundreds (and hundreds) of dollars on Curry Tofu Wraps over the course of a year. More if you factor in the occasional green lemonade I’d get to wash the wrap down with. Insert puddle of tears here.

Now, a few years later and after dealing with a number of my dog’s weird health problems (she somehow managed to get a paint chip in her eye, and who knew ear infections could be so draining on your wallet?), I think about what I eat for lunch a bit more and go out for lunch a whole lot less. Because I get it: Savings accounts are helpful.

But this shift from a lady who lunches at HipCityVeg and Sweetgreen all the freakin’ time to a lady who lunches out of a trusty Tupperware container did not come easy.

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Butcher Bar Launches Lunch Service

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The upstairs at Butcher Bar

Center City’s Butcher Bar, from the team behind Varga Bar, Mercato and Valanni is now open for lunch. Though there are some vegetarian dishes, as the name suggests, Butcher Bar is about the meat. Highlights include Sloppy Joe Poutine; a Butcher Bar grinder with sobrasada, rigani salami and provolone; and a $29 plate of steak frites.

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Scarpetta Does Lunch

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Starting on Monday, November 14, Philly’s Scarpetta will become the first location in the group to offer lunch. So why this break from tradition?

Location, location, location…

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Eat This Now: Lobster Grilled Cheese At Luke’s Lobster

lukes-lobster-grilled-cheese-color-940

Last week, Luke’s Lobster (130 South 17th Street) launched its winter menu. And while yes, they still have the city’s most ideal interpretation of the New England-style lobster roll (the right kind of split-top roll, just a hint of mayonnaise, no goddamn celery) and a whole lot of other seafood-based lunch options, they have added three new items for the season and, really, you should go there right now and try all of them.

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Harp & Crown Does Lunch

The upstairs bar at Harp & Crown | Photos by Arthur Etchells

The upstairs bar at Harp & Crown | Photo by Arthur Etchells

Michael Schulson’s newest project, Harp & Crown, has been running on a dinners-only schedule since opening night. But starting yesterday, they quietly rolled out lunch service, offering all sorts of salads, sandwiches and snacks in the big, upstairs room.

We’ve got a look at the menu for those of you that are interested. No word yet on whether or not you can duck out at noon for a little afternoon bowling between meetings, though…

Show me the menu

Sancho Pistola’s Begins Lunch

Adan Trinidad rolls out a menu of tortas on Monday

Adan Trinidad rolls out a menu of tortas on Monday

Fishtown’s Sancho Pistola’s kicks off weekday lunch on Halloween day. Chef Adan Trinidad will be serving burritos for perhaps the first time at Sancho’s and he also has a full menu of tortas. Among those tortas:

  • La Cubana
    Ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard, chipotle aioli
  • Grilled Chicken
    spinach, thyme, aioli, black bean chihuahua cheese
  • Braised Short Rib
    black beans, lettuce, chihuahua cheese, horseradish crema
  • Egg and Chorizo
    black beans, lettuce, Oaxaca cheese, guacamole
  • Carnitas
    provolone cheese, broccoli rabe, long hots, thyme aioli

And in order to properly kick off lunch, on Friday, November 4th, owners Joe Gunn and Casey Parker are hosting a “European Spoils” lunch with epic beers from Cantillon.

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