Palio Paninoteca

Overall Rating: 7.300

Address: 505 Montgomery St.
Cross Street(s): Commercial St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94111
Neighborhood: Financial District
Phone: 415.362.6900
Hours: M-F 6:30am-4pm
Type of Establishment: Cafe (Chain)
Cafe Rating: 7.20
Barista: 7
Savvy: 8
Ambiance: 7
Presentation: 7
Consistency: Consistent
Espresso Machine: Faema
Coffee Rating: 7.40
Aroma: 7
Body: 8
Brightness: 7
Crema: 8
Flavor: 8
Taster's Correction: -1.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Vanilla-like
Coffee Beans: Mr. Espresso
Cup Manufacturer: Delco
Price: $1.50
Last Update: 06/18/2010
First Reviewed: 06/06/2003
Notes: None

Named for a famous Medieval bareback horse race in Italy's Piemonte region - and Palio d'Asti, the parent restaurant around the corner. Many caf´┐Ż tables in an airy space with high windows. This small chain specializes in panini and other lunch fare, but their espresso is quite (somewhat surprisingly) good - once surprisingly so. The staff are relatively inattentive, and the espresso succeeds in spite of them. Using a three-group, Mr. Espresso-supplied Faema, they pull shots with a rich, dark brown, patterned crema that coats the cups. It can be a rich, thick, and sweet espresso with flavor characteristics of brown sugar and custard. However, two variances have come up over the years: the body of their espresso can run lighter on occasion and the crema can be "merely" very good. They are otherwise rather consistent and have been one of the better SF espresso examples for years now. In 2006 they replaced many of their classic Mr. Espresso Nuova Point cups with cheaper Delco equivalents, but that still can't take away from the espresso. Milk frothing can be poor, however: irregular bubbles and little melding between the milk foam and coffee (stick with the espresso).