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Lucky Penny Diner

I had been curious about this stalwart for some time and finally made it. The experience seems best summed up in Haiku.

No gummy pancakes,
chalky cocoa, not even
sauced at 3 a.m.

Lucky Penny
2670 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94118

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  1. You've summed it up perfectly... nicely done!

    1. i'm at the masonic tj's weekly and on my walk from the 38 i am continually baffled as to the longevity of lucky penny. that's a great location for an actually good restaurant; i don't understand why LP is still there. the land alone i would think is valuable enough to tear down LP and put anything else up.

      2 Replies
      1. re: artemis

        Yes, it was disappointing. I'm from the east coast, and some of our 24-hour diners have pretty decent food (compared to other diners, not to Chez Panisse).

        I'm surprised that there aren't a lot of good late-night diner options in San Francisco, but I guess it's more of an "early to bed, early to rise to yoga class" culture.

        1. re: pane

          San Francisco is a late night city in other respects, plenty of after hours nightlife for example, just not fine dining or much of any dining. I also find it surprising, however, it is starting to change (NOPA serves till 1Am). The places that are open all night are usually crowded (Sparky's, etc.).
          Also, I believe it is somewhat difficult to secure 24 hour permits especially in certain neighborhoods, I could be wrong about that though.

      2. We've always thought that people go there if they don't want to run into someone they know...having an affair or unpleasant business meeting,

        1. yes, i don't understand how it manages to stay in business. i'd prefer to go to *gasp* denny's over this place.

          4 Replies
          1. re: nansook

            i don't understand how it manages to stay in business

            It is open 24/7, has a parking lot, is relatvely inexpensive,has large portions, has a seniour menu and is in a restaurant dead zone. Yeah ... going up the street in different directions ... but in that exact area they have mainly cable car burgers as competition.

            It is near the hospital and I'm sure the graveyard (heh) shift makes it over there on occasion.

            Where else are you gonna get eggs benedict for 6.25

            Eggs Benedict 2 poached eggs and 2 slices of canadian bacon on english muffin, topped with our special hollandaise sauce. served with hash browns

            Wow ... Lucky Penny 'special hollandaise sauce' ... it boggles the mind.

            Hmmm ... there was another thread seeking big dinner salads and fish ... nah, I'll behave and not suggest LP.

            Here's a thread from a few years ago about Lucky Penny

            It seems like they have had the wisdom to drop the ethnic dishes mentioned in that link like pot stickers and curry

            As someone wrote "Why go to Denny's when you can support a local place. "

            And after all ...it survives because pennies are lucky ... not worth much ... but lucky ... and every now and then you need them.

            1. re: rworange

              you make some good points rworange and i hadn't thought about the hospital close by.

              i might not have tried the "right" items at LP and so if i ever am in the situation where i end up there i now know what to choose.

              i'm all for supporting the local economy but my experience at LP was so so bad hence my "gasp* at preferring denny's over LP :)

              1. re: nansook

                I was joking. Probably the safest thing there is the grilled cheese and even then I read a bad report on it on Yelp.

              2. re: rworange

                You know it was there in the early 70's or earlier and called the copper penny, I think. It was bad then, too.

            2. They also get their biz from those Medicare seminars during Open Season. I vaguely remember my parents getting insurance ads during open season and the free lunch seminars are at Lucky Penny's.

              1 Reply
              1. re: asianstamp

                I think they stay in business because they either own the building (low overhead) or have a very favorable lease. My general take on Lucky Penny is that 20 years ago it was "okay" but since then the quality of all food in SF has gone up whilte it has stayed behind.

                Frankly if they changed a few things, like better ingredients, the food would be "okay" again. If they had real butter instead of the fluorescent margarine, the pancakes would be okay in my view...not great but okay at 3 a.m. in the morning. Price however is a major consideration. Not every SF'er thinks $9.95 for a short stack and breakfast meat is a fair price.

              2. I've actually kind of enjoyed it the two times I've been there. It's not great- it's on the same level as Denny's- but what I enjoy was the strange ambiance. The people who go there really interest me. My boyfriend had huge complaints about the breakfast dish he had- I think he had some bacon, sausage, and hash browns- and he said the hash browns were inedible because they were using REALLY old, burned bacon grease. I thought the pancakes were fine.

                It's disappointing that there aren't a lot of good diners. I'm very open to suggestions though! I'm in the richmond district of SF- any good diners out there that I'm missing?

                3 Replies
                1. re: mumblety

                  I like the oddity of Lucky Penny as well...but the food has lost something in context to the rest of SF. The pancakes are fine by me. Best diner that's close to Lucky Penny might be Howard's on 9th/Irving...'70s greasy spoon, better food.

                  1. re: mumblety

                    "any good diners out there that I'm missing?"


                    1525 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                  2. To some of the respondents, I'd like to say "can you say 'Greasy Spoon'?" Every City has a few, every city NEEDS them as a benchmark to compare other eateries against. Every City need places eveyone loves to hate. I personally am in favor of electing LP to the Greasy Spoon Hall of Fame and giving it Landmark status. There's a lot of other underutilized real estate around for Yet Another Trendy Resto for Thirtysomethings.

                    Let it be! Next thing you know someone will get it in their noggin to off Sam Wo, too.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      I have been to Sam Wo, too. Isn't Edsel Ford Fong gone now?

                      1. re: wally

                        Long gone. He died in the 80's, I think.

                        1. re: Xiao Yang

                          BTW, contrary to some reports, EFF was not genuinely rude. One evening I listened to him relate that it was an act and that it worked. He brought people into a dive and made them happy and supported not only his family but those of his fellow workers. Sorry folks but that night he was nice.