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Jul 20, 2009 11:31 PM

Breakfast: Stacks vs. Il Fornaio

Ok chowhounds, riddle me this.

Why is stacks (any location) packed every Saturday and Sunday for breakfast, and Il Fornaio never full?

1. Prices are about the same for breakfast items, perhaps even less expensive at Il Fornaio.
2. Breakfast items are much better at Il Fornaio
3. Il Fornaio has drinkable drip coffee and will make espresso drinks. Stacks coffee is horrible (weak *and* poor quality) and (I think) no espresso machine. I may be wrong about the espresso machine - I rarely drink it so I haven't looked.
4. The SF Il Fornaio has the lovely outside patio area.

My theory is:
a) people don't think of Il Fornaio as a breakfast place.
b) Il Fornaio LOOKS expensive: white tablecloths, nice decor, marble floor tiles, etc.

Has anyone else noticed this? Any dissenting opinions?


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  1. This probably belongs on the chain board. The bigger question is why would anyone go to either one in the Bay Area with so many other places with

    1. Prices that are about the same for breakfast items and even less expensive elsewhere
    2. Breakfast items that are much better at many more places
    3. Coffee that is not horrible or just drinkable, but excellent

    I can sort of see Il Fornaio as the outdoor area is pretty. If I lived in one of the condos or apartments within a few blocks I'd probably stop by from time to time. If I worked there, probably would stop in for a breakfast pastry during the week.

    Answering your question though ... probably location, location, location.

    Neither place is exactly a destination breakfast spot. Stacks is in a location with fewer good breakfast options and has more nearby residential units. The area near Il Fornaio is dead on the weekends and there is not even that much business traffic at Il Fornaio during the week compared to other areas of SF.

    I'm always surprised Il Fornaio has hung in there all these years. It is not bad, but again, there's so much more that is better and there are always so many more new places competing for business dollars.

    Talk to me atjsfo ... tell me what is good at both that I might consider a stop at either.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I agree with you, rworange, but my teenage daughter loved Il Fornaio's corned beef hash (she said it was the best ever, but I - the original hash lover - didn't even remember it). It was also the only place that was empty enough to seat 12 people impromptu on a Saturday morning, which I guess is good and bad.

      1. re: Claudette

        The patio is lovely and the food isn't bad and it is relaxing and easy to get in. I was looking at their website and it seems they do catering. I could see that keeping them going. I've had much worse than Il Fornaio at office events. It is weird though that in all the years I worked in SF, none of the companies I worked for ever picked it for a business dinner or lunch. I guess it is a little out of the way of the financial district.

        They do have a private dining room, so it might not be bad in a pinch if other places are booked.

    2. I just happened to walk into the il fornio in SF this week before a nearby meeting. I was directed to the bar since the to-go espresso station was under maintenance. The bar charged me $5 for a triple shot - which would have been $3.80 at the window. Shoddy. I'm not going back. Maybe others have been treated the same?

      I've never been to a Stacks and probably never will, as a comparison.

      1. Simply, it is the breakfast "scene" on Saturdays and Sundays at Stacks. To many people, the comfort level is most important for the weekend breakfast: newspaper, shorts, sandals, kids running around, etc.

        1. I haven't been to Il Forniao in awhile for breakfast (the office used to be a block away now we are on the other side of Market St.) and it was pretty tasty if a bit pricey.