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Apr 16, 2002 06:05 PM

Fog City Diner (long)

  • j

My family was in town this weekend and it presented some interesting food challenges. Six people in all, including my 82+ year old grandparents, and my aunt - a vegetarian. Grandpa was definitely in town for the clam chowder - he is obsessed with the clam chowder at the Cliff House, of all places - so that was our first meal when they arrived.

Sunday, we needed a brunch location. Where do dine which didn't have long waits, had parking that was reasonable and not too awful, and that could satisfy the varying dining needs of the whole fam? Considered the brunch at the Palace, but it was out of the price range, and not what we were looking for ...

On a whim, I called the Fog City Diner. They were open for brunch, and I was assured that I didn't need to make a reservation.

The menu was varied, which worked well with our half breakfast eating/half lunch eating clan. Delicious Bloody Marys all around. Very unassuming in their look and presentation, they had a slow burn that I am craving two days later.

Grandpa played it right, ordering only clam chowder (better than Cliff house, he announced!) and eating off everyone else's plates. I tasted the clam chowder, and it was delicious - more like the broth from steamed clams than the thick chowdery broth I am used to. My aunt was in vegetarian heaven with an eggplant/miso concoction, and some sort of potatoes, as well as a butter lettuce salad that looked delicious.. I had a spinach salad omelette which tasted like something that I would make at home. Piles of spinach, barely cooked, with blue cheese and surrounded by omelette. Mom had the famous mac and cheese, and was very happy with it. Grandma had a chorizo-filled chile relleno, with scrambled eggs. Sis had a cobb salad sandwich.

Service was attentive without being obtrusive.

We finished up with shared desserts - bread pudding and a ice cream sundae that was to die for. Entire meal for six, with tip, was about $150. Definitely not the most inexpensive, but reasonable considering drinks and dessert and coffee.

This was the meal that my family talked about the most all trip, a total and complete hit with everyone. I have always enjoyed taking out of towners to Fog City Diner, and am personally thrilled to know that it is so great for brunch. It really worked well considering the group. Had it been different friends of mine, or not the grandparents, I would have taken them to somewhere a little riskier, however this was perfect given the situation.

Fog City Diner
1300 Battery St
San Francisco, CA 94111-1104
Phone: (415) 982-2000


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  1. Hooray -- so glad Fog City came through for you. I do agree that it's a good place for out of town guests, and the food is very reliable. I've never had a disspointing meal there, and for a feeding a group with varied tastes it's one of the treasures of the city. I think we need these kinds of restaurants, where most people can be assured of walking in and finding something they like -- and let's face it, Bay Area, our caliber of "stand bys" like Fog City is WAY higher than almost anywhere else in the US. Always fun to hear a positive review, Jen M, thanks.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Mrs. Smith

      I have to know, is it mrs smith as in fishsticks? I am guessing it is a joke, but I don't get it.

      I am thinking fish, as in the horrid joke. Or maybe I am wrong, and Mr. fish is supposed to be a cold one. Clue us in on why you address yourself as Mrs. Are you a drag queen? Do tell please!

      1. re: mssticksfan

        I am flattered that my nomenclature is of such interest . Nothing so exciting as the subterfuge you suggest! Actually, I am a female non-drag queen/king who gave up a less common name recently to be wed to the excellent Mr. Smith (his real name), and the name has become somewhat of a joke in my family. Also, I am a fanatical pie-baker of some small success and the jokes just continued on from there... Not sure about these fishsticks -- are they affiliated with the pies of the same name? Are they so very excellent? Share!

        1. re: Mrs. Smith

          Tell us about your pies, Mrs.Smith! And your success--I, too, am an aspiring piebaker, and one of the great moments of my food life was getting the "Grand Champion" award for my apple pie last year at the Sebastopol Apple Fair.

          1. re: dixieday

            I am impressed with your pie renown, dixieday! I have no such laurels. Alas, I only have the occasional accolades of the people who share my pies. I've learned one thing, though, Rose Levy Berenbaum's crusts are the very best, and worth all the extra fussing. (The Pie and Pastry Bible).

            Now I want this recipe for your prize winning pie. Do you use lemon juice -- lots or little? Cinnamon, nutmeg, "apple pie spice", or all three? Particular apple variety? Deep dish or regular sized? Double crust or streusal top? Cheddar alongside or not? How small do you cut the apple pieces? Do you cook the filling separately first out of the pastry, or all at once? Flour, cornstarch, or just the fruit pectin as thickener? I've tried so many variations, that I'm dying to know yours. A favorite crust? A favorite fat for the pastry? Oven temp? Ooh I want all the details...

            1. re: Mrs. Smith

              Well, I'm sure someone's going to insist we move this discussion elsewhere, but for now...I got some good tricks from the Pie and Pastry Bible--I used RLB's flaky pie crust recipe, the one with vinegar and a little baking soda (?)...It was very flaky and tasty, but a total BEAR to work with--sticky, gunky, stuck to everything, plus it has to be chilled about 10 different times. Forget it--I'm back to using the basic pie crust recipe in David Lebovitz's Room for Dessert. This seems to be the only one that's totally foolproof--I once put in nearly 2x as much water as he said, and it still tasted good. For apples, I used organic Sonoma Gravensteins from DeVoto orchards--one of the best pie apples, although they have a very short season. I think RLB's apple-pie trick is great--mix the apples with sugar and a little flour, let stand for 30 min, then pour off the liquid and boil down. Mix "syrup" back in--that way, you have a juicy pie without a soggy bottom crust from too much liquid while cooking. I usually use cinnamon with a little allspice and nutmeg--I also love raisins in apple pie, but that's a particular taste. Basically, I like to make a nice straightforward round-topped (lots of apples) pie that tastes like my mom's, who's an ace pie baker.

        2. re: mssticksfan

          Aren't those Mrs. Paul's fish sticks?

      2. c
        Christine Vallejo

        Aren't those Bloody Marys the best?? My husband and I rarely drink, but for the last 4 or so years, Fog City has been "our" place and we love the Bloody Marys. We always sit at the bar, midday during the week, and chat with the bartender, Roger, who has told us that the trick is fresh lemon juice and any tomato juice and vodka will suffice. Once while we were there, somebody ordered a Stoli Mary and we were given a sample - no difference.

        Food isn't bad either - once had a divine garlic soup and a soft shell crab to follow