Built in 1872, the Vance Hotel building is the namesake of a lumber and railroad baron, and it has seen Eureka through its days as a bustling port and lumber town stacked with brothels and bootleggers. Now the Italianate-style landmark is home to shops and businesses, its wild days to be imagined as you sit and people watch from a crushed velvet chair in the lobby and nibble something lovely from Bandit Savory & Sweet Café.

Owner Erica Davie’s café rewards a push through the glass and brass doors with the smell of espresso drinks, cookies and scones. First a pop-up in San Francisco, then a farmers market stand, Bandit makes its home in the historic lobby. Before you order your default coffee, consider the options barista Michael Rice has on offer — the cinnamon and raw honey latte, the cardamom mocha — and don’t overlook the specials board. In fact, if you’re not wedded to the idea of coffee, the possibilities expand further with all manner of fragrant loose teas, orange blossom lemonade, rose limeade and the more-casual-than-Champagne “cidermosas."

click to enlarge A hearty cabbage and chicken apple sausage soup. - AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
  • A hearty cabbage and chicken apple sausage soup.

On the savory end, there are charcuterie plates ($16-$20) and deceptively hefty sandwiches with cucumber and shredded carrots, like the honey maple ham and Jarlsberg on locally baked Brio focaccia swiped with Diane’s Sweet Heat jam ($8.50). Add to your mismatched vintage china plate a side of fresh greens with pomegranate, chèvre and candied rosemary walnuts, and your lunch is officially fancy ($6.50). Even if it’s not raining, the homemade soups, like the frittata of the day, are the thing to warm you, especially if Davie is ladling out cabbage and chicken apple sausage ($6 cup, $8 bowl).

To leave without something sweet is just foolish. Maybe willful. Scan the domed plates on the counter and find your childhood favorites dressed for afternoon tea. Depending on the morning's inspiration, Davie's fat molasses cookies, dark candied pecan banana bread and lemon tea cookies scented with rosemary will compete for your attention ($3-$4.50). The gluten-free are not neglected here, either, as the snickerdoodles demonstrate. Just be sure to get a couple of thick chocolate chip cookies sprinkled with sea salt, too ($3). They are tender-crisp and buttery, with hunks of chocolate. You may not be able to look your mother in the eye after taking a bite because, sorry, they are the best chocolate chip cookies. If you make it out the door and down the block before breaking into another one, we’ll be impressed.
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About The Author

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill

Jennifer Fumiko Cahill is the arts and features editor of the North Coast Journal. She won the Association of Alternative Newsmedia’s 2020 Best Food Writing Award and the 2019 California News Publisher's Association award for Best Writing.

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