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Jul 20, 2013 11:19 AM

15 Iconic SF Greasy Spoons from EaterSF

I love list & haven't heard much about these 15 iconic SF Greasy spoons:

1. Joe's Coffee Shop
2. Art's Cafe
3. Lucky Penny
4. Tony's Cable Car Restaurant
5. Eddie's Cafe
6. Grubstake Diner
7. Golden Coffee Shop
8. Lafayette Coffee Shop diner
9. It's Tops Coffee Shop
10. Sparky's 24hr Diner
11. Orphan Andy's
12. Jim's Restaurant
13. Red Cafe
14. Silver Crest Donut's Shop
15. Tyger's Coffee Shop

Website link:

What do hounds think of them?

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  1. I mean, they're greasy spoons. They are what they are. I have no strong opinions about the ones on this list I've tried, although I don't like Lucky Penny, even compared to other greasy spoons. The only thing I like about Lucky Penny is that they are open 24 hours.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dunstable

      I concur--they are what they are.

      When I was a young man about town, the attraction of Sparky's and Orphan Andy's was that they were open after last call. The sole attraction, really.

      It's Tops has a following that makes me think it may be a trifle better than the rest of the list. Grubstake used to get some mentions on this board.

    2. I've only tried two (we don't have many true greasy spoons left in Vancouver so we dabble when traveling), Eddie's and Golden. Both were fun and decent food but it's more about the experience for me than the grub. I wouldn't head to either just for the food based on one visit each.

      2 Replies
      1. re: grayelf

        It's Tops, great for pancakes. Good 2 a.m. food. Grubsteak is not great, in my opinion. And Sparky's has really gotten bad.

        1. re: mariacarmen

          My 'go to' late night order is always the Portuguese Caldo Verde Soup - always satisfies me at Grubsteak. I'd stick to the Portuguese side of Grubsteak's menu.
          At Eddie's on Divisadero, I go for grits with eggs with smoked sausage.
          At Golden Coffee, waffle-strawberries-whipped cream, pancakes/egg.
          At Red Cafe on Mission Street/25th Street, chilaquiles, Platanos con casamiento, huevos, queso fresco y crema, and oatmeal pancakes.

          I could easily find 'one dish' at each of these greasy spoon finds, but I haven't yet made it to #14's Silver Crest Donut's. I'll get there someday, maybe, just to do the 15. I have favorites.

      2. Is that Art's Cafe on Irving near 9th? It's not bad at all and they have Korean-influenced breakfast options.

        Orphan Andy's - went there for dinner one night during my January fortnight in the Castro when I was still getting over a respiratory virus. The meatloaf/mashed dinner was very comforting and the chicken soup was surprisingly rich. They serve you a huge amount of food.

        Jim's Restaurant in Alameda? - went there once for chicken fried steak. It was OK, better than Ole's which used to be good.

        2 Replies
        1. re: chocolatetartguy

          I think it's Jim's in the Mission, on Mission St. They make their own killer hot sauce.

          1. re: chocolatetartguy

            Yes, Art's is at 9th/Irving. I prefer Howard's around the corner, still greasy but in a 70s vibe.

          2. I think Peter D's (est. 1959) at VanNess and Broadway deserves to be on the list

            3 Replies
            1. re: saffrongold

              Did I read in the last couple years that the chef that garnered the rave from Gene Burns opened his own place?

                1. re: saffrongold

                  No worries. I've googled a bit and can't find anything about the change. Oddly, the only mention left on the web for Gene Burns, then of KGO radio, proclaiming Peter D's the best breakfast is my old post from 2004. Guess it all went away when Burns' Dining Around departed KGO and with his passing.

            2. I've been to a few of these places in the last couple of years. Good without having to add the qualifier "for a diner" - Orphan Andy's & Grubstake
              Decent for a Diner- Jim's, Art's, Tony's & Eddie's
              Meh, but maybe you'll like it? - It's Tops, Lafayette, Tygers
              Don't Go (seriously even if you don't get sick, you'll worry about IF you finish your food) - Sparky's & Red Cafe.
              Haven't Been - Silver Crest, Joe's, Lucky Penny, Golden

              1 Reply
              1. re: larochelle

                2nd on sparky's - it's all frozen microwaved stuff - and given that it's next to a 24-hour safeway, really no exuse for going there.

                kate's kitchen should be on here.

                i've always found red cafe to be tasty mexcian food when i've been (not the best in the mission, but still tasty) - are you sure you're not thinking of somewhere else?