Diner Critique: St. Francis Fountain (San Francisco, CA)

Review | Written and photographed by Nathan Mattise

Directions | Web site | Overall Rating: 3

Moving is always seismic. Not only does it involve adjusting to a brand new physical space, but all the tangential aspects of everyday life shift too. New doctors, new places to run, new routes to work…

And when you write a diner blog, a new go-to neighborhood diner.

St. Francis Fountain was within walkable distance from my new house, in my new city in my newly car less world. Clearly it was only a matter of time.

The diner sits on the corner of York (a smaller street between Bryant/Potrero) and 24th on the edge of the Mission. People describe the neighborhood at large as an eclectic place with lots of different cuisines and people: Latin, Thai, Hipster. Surprisingly, St. Francis doesn’t officially get pegged with the latter on Yelp but word of mouth and the vintage-feeling exterior tells you otherwise.

Inside provides more of the same vibe but it’s charming and homey more than it’s ever pretentious or elitist. Old punk on the radio and the wait staff fashion are the only explicitly hipster entities. Everything else is old fashioned soda jerk and diner culture. There’s a combination of large booths and tables all in matching refinished wood, the countertop space is lengthy and all the art feeds into the space’s classic ambiance.   This great decor (combined with it being one of the few diners in the immediate neighborhood) makes for the potential to wait on weekends despite its size however.

Ultimately, proximity convenience and ambiance can only feed your diner decisions so much. Food would be the ultimate test and thankfully St. Francis provides lots of it. The menu is directly proportional to portion size which is always the magic formula for a diner (note: breakfast all day, specials, lunch offerings, vegeterian options, booze and Mitchell’s renowned ice cream).

I opted for a unique pancake offering – bacon, green onion and cheddar cakes with a special offering two eggs and homefries (yes, I had to take some home). Whoever came up with that pancake flavor palette deserves a pat on the back – cheese and onion with a pancake was new to me but combine with bacon/maple syrup it was surprisingly nice. They even hold up the day after because the ingredients aren’t as runny and moist as fruit-based cakes.  Eggs were cooked properly and the homefries are an early favorite for best in the area (spiced splendidly to the point where ketchup is a burden).

St. Francis Fountain presented a good first impression for a city that prides itself on culinary excellence (which sometimes gets lost in the high-end world and forgets to transcend down to diner culture).  While by no means perfect (the meal was close to $15 with coffee, the wait on weekends could be a detriment), it’s a neighborhood diner very worth of taking any visitors and guests to for glorious morning afters. Even with all the food choices the city seems to offer, St. Francis and I will meet again.

The Final Tab

Pros: Cool establishment, great tasting food, large portions and a varied menu

Cons: Higher prices than traditional diner, can be disproportionally packed on weekend

Overall:

2-toast1

Three Out Of Five (Basic combo | It’s OK – try it.)

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