Dottie's is not the sort of place you go to when you roll out of bed after sleeping in and realize your tummy is rumbling—going to Dottie's is an event. It is right in the Tenderloin. There is always a 30 to 60 minute wait. There is no list so you have to hold your place in the line outside. But what really makes going to Dottie's an event is plainly that it is the best place in the city to get an old school American diner breakfast.
Service: Last weekend was our third time eating at Dottie's and every time, the staff has been calm and super friendly no matter how hectic the environment. The first time we ate there, we sat at the bar and got to watch the speed and skill of the chef as he cranked out omelettes on the stove while answering the constantly-ringing phone without missing a beat. There is a single-spaced page-long essay of house rules pasted to the windows of the restaurant that states they will never rush patrons or skimp on service no matter how long the line outside, and they stick to their house rules.
Food: I always order from the hand-scrawled specials board. Last weekend I had a portobello mushroom and provolone strata (I had to Google while I was there to find out what a strata was) which was amazingly fluffy, gooey, and melty at the same time. Previously, I've had the sweet potato tart, which was also gooey and delicious. The food always tastes and looks like old fashioned home cooking, but prepared in unexpected ways. Nick orders French toast pretty much whenever we eat out for breakfast and gives this place the trophy for the best French toast he's ever had; they used pumpkin bread to make the French toast and it had a butterscotch glaze.
Ambiance: This is a place where half a dozen types of hot sauce are stocked at every table along with various salt and pepper shakers disguised as tacky figurines or souvenirs. There are photos of movie stars from before my time on the walls (including a poster-sized one with breasts involved) and you have to wait on the sidewalk in the 'Loin just to get a seat. But all of this is part of what makes the Dottie's experience complete. They do accept take-out orders, but that just wouldn't be the same to me.
Rating: Strongly recommended.
Dottie's True Blue Cafe is located at 522 Jones St, San Francisco, California 94102.