People from other places in the Unites States have looked favorably upon the coffee served at Isthmus cappuccino squad also gave a thumbs-up to the cups served at Ancora. Patrons have generally not been as kind to the shop's food offerings as they have been to the java. Is Ancora picking up an unfair rep?
As Ancora's King Street branch is the closest to my weekday global positioning, I take advantage of its proximity for coffee and cookies, but skip the sandwiches. This is not to say that I haven't tried them. The selection is usually quite limited, typically: the margarita, the turkey and provolone, and the ham and brie on a baguette (all $5). Sandwiches are pre-made and wrapped in cellophane. (Check for a sticker on the bottom that states which day of the week the sandwich was made -- a welcome touch. Get a same-day sandwich.)
The margarita, with mozzarella, tomato, fresh basil, and a drizzle of vinaigrette, is a simple creation -- but can be transcendent in the right hands. Ancora's version, however, is perfunctory. Fresh mozzarella would be a good idea instead of the processed/sliced. The fresh basil is the best thing about it.
The turkey and provolone, with mustard and mayo and a crusty bun, is better, especially warmed, thanks to the good roll and the tangy mustard/mayo combo. The ham and brie on a baguette is, well, it doesn't look like five dollars-worth of sandwich to me, and that baguette is hard to chew.
The fruit and yogurt cup ($2.75) is a pretty good deal, with plain yogurt flavored with vanilla syrup served in a 14.oz cup. The fruit, however generous, came still frozen, and when thawed was without much taste. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries were in the mix, not that they imparted anything more than a berry-colored tinge to the yogurt. The cup also comes with a separate sprinkling of granola if you wish.
Ancora's generally bold roasts stand up very well to being served iced in the summer and I find myself liking it much more that way than hot. Ancora's large cookies ($1.55), served help-yourself style from clear cookie jars, are perfect with an iced coffee; the ginger molasses are particularly good -- rich, chewy and intense. Chocolate chunk, peanut butter, white chocolate/macadamia (also good) and cranberry walnut (tend to be a little dry) are also on the cookie menu.
The upshot: This is the place to go for coffee and a cookie; maybe not the best when you're looking for a full lunch.