I stopped by Downtown's Standard Café (8th Av N) this morning to sample and to judge breakfast. Calling it breakfast is charitable, because I basically had a choice between pastries and what looked like grocery caliber (Sara Lee?) bagels. I chose the latter, so I cannot comment on the pastries. If they are from Provence Breads, then they would get a nod. But the bagel tasted, well, of the wrapped-in-plastic-vintage of store-bought bagels.
The espresso was much better; edgy and strong. It lifted the experience as did the impressive modern metal art filling every open space and tall wall in the place. Standard Café (run by the Standard Restaurant across the street), is a good place to go if you are in west Downtown and want a quick espresso and to linger around some interesting art (the sign says that the Café is open from 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.). Only grab a bite there if you have no other alternative. It is, after all, more of an art gallery with café-as-afterthought. Disclaimer: I have not tried the sandwiches, but they were putting them together by hand when I was there.
Parking can be had, but be careful: the two small lots immediately adjoining the MadMod Building (housing the Café) are pay lots owned by someone else. Free parking is available in a small lot that sits north of the small pay lot adjoining the north side of the building. Their lot has posted signs that say "private parking" and "permit only," but the manager of the place told me this morning that patronizing their shop is your permit to park and you would not be towed.