WiFi for One

You corner a tight table for one – for you and who else? Your loyal laptop or other wireless device, of course.

If you haven’t noticed, the Neoprene sleeve is emerging as the new evening bag for an increasing number of singles. Yep, the gadget that has evolved into a fifth limb is perhaps the most accessible date we can score for Saturday night drinks,  Sunday brunch and midweek caffeine rushes in makeshift offices. “Busy? “No, baby, you can turn me on anytime. Just say the password! Yahoo!”

While the debate rages over whether restaurants should ban or restrict WiFi users, the public display of affliction is everywhere, from chichi downtown bistros in Dallas (a Lemon Drop for you, a refresh button for your Pro) to buzzing coffee bars in Seattle where users can catch up while sipping a skinny something.

Call it a cult phenomenon of a society that has never been more disconnected emotionally. Not long ago, we relied on that soiled paperback in the shoulder bag or crumpled newspaper rolled up in the back pocket to join us at our tables. Nobody threatened to take those away unlike the current climate of cafes taking WiFi off their menus, as noted in the Los Angeles Times.

Is it rude to be glued to the screen and to occupy tables once your meal is through? Well, as far as conducting our business in public, we can agree a gal with her Macbook is much less a social pariah than, say, a dude in a neighboring booth carrying on a painfully audible, one-way, cell phone conversation. “Oh, yeah, for sure, she stood me up, and like, I’m so hella horny!”

Accepting we are often lost without our laptops to lean on when going solo on the town – it is good to know about happening nodes to hang with our gadgets – apart from the typical coffee house in the hood.

Here are some savvy suggestions:

The Summit, 780 Valencia Street, San Francisco

Showcasing the play of sweet and savory pulled off by noted pastry chefs (such as Gabriel Mitchell known as the “sugar pimp”), this art space in the Mission also attracts like minded connoisseurs who also devour displays of applied arts of industrial, graphic and textile design. “Oy, me and my laptop are getting so cultured!”

Oddfellows Cafe and Bar, 1525 10th Street, Seattle

A hippified 1908 dining hall, this fave watering hole where cocktails come in Grandma’s glassware and where mac and cheese and pork nuggets pass for gourmet is familiar MacBook territory day and night. Hey, it’s Seattle. Enough said.

Intellegtsia Cafe, 1331 Abbot Kinney Blvd.,Venice Beach

Okay, so it does classify as a coffee bar, but this one features few tables but ample open space with stadium concrete steps and cushions to sit on with your device and sip possibly the best cappuccino or coffee-by-the-cup in L.A. (purchased directly from growers), along with tasty croissants and other treats. Described as a cross between a chemistry lab and a high tech Italian cafe, you will enjoy the personalized one-on-one barista service prior to connecting.

Camera Cafe, 44 Museum Street, London

No honey, but in need of a honey latte on a blustery day; then take your laptop to this WiFi friendly and highly quirky cafe in the Bloomsbury area. It serves a variety of cakes, sandwiches and snacks, and plays French music to tourists and regulars. Unlike the typical coffee house, the front room features a shop packed with second-hand cameras lovingly restored. Inside the cafe, photos hung at funky angles cover the walls, adding a bit of Parisian eccentricity to the scene.

Marvelous Market, 1511 Connecticut Ave., Washington DC

Included in a blog on one of the safest places in Washington for meeting other geeks, this epicurean haunt open breakfast through dinner serves up the range from potent coffee and teas to exotic imported cheeses, salamis and olives. You will even find tempting Passover brownies, as depicted by one loyal taker. There are a variety of locations in the nation’s capital, but Dupont Circle seems to attract more of the laptop hounds. “Computer use is part of our business,” one of the managers tells me. “We are just happy to offer a nice place to sit and unwind or do what you need to do.”

Images: Serious Eats, The SummitSF, Tomatogeezer, Intelligentisa, Another Photograph, Wiredwitch

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.