Vera's is a really great coffee shop. It has a ton of atmosphere, from the cafe's eccentric decor, to the characters who spend hours at a time here reading, working or chatting up other patrons.
As for the stuff you have to pay for--the coffee and baked goods are high quality, but stay away from the egg dishes, unless you prefer to eat eggs that have been cooked via steam from a milk frother.
The patio area is a little claustrophobic, as it is walled in on three sides, with a wrought iron fence for the fourth. The good part about it is that they let you bring your dog out here, and will provide both fresh water and treats for your pooch upon request.
And, if you walk across the bridge to the neighboring Lyndale Greenway entrance, you will be treated to the horticultural glory that is Vera's Garden. It is an amazing stretch of mostly annual plantings that shouldn't be missed.