Sunday, September 18, 2011

It’s Tops (Fountain) Coffee Shop

"The Original S.F. Diner Since 1935"

I drive past this place about 3-4 times a week and finally figured it was about time to check out It's Tops (Fountain) Coffee Shop. They are located right on Market Street on the corner where the Octavia Boulevard on-ramp to 101 is. Right outside the window you can see all the historic trolley/street cars[1] running by along the tracks.

There is definitely an olde-tymey feel to the place. The walls and ceiling are completely covered with wood paneling (on their website, they state "knotty pine", but I wouldn't know "knotty pine" from "Nottinghamshire Sherwood Forest oak"). The walls are covered with old coffee shop/diner memorabilia and tins signs/advertisements. I sat at one of the round, burgundy vinyl covered counter seats; there are twelve counter seats and about eight booths total. There are those little juke box selection thingys all along the counter, which are probably just for show (I asked my server and she said they don't actually work, but the website highlights them); whatever, the house stereo was playing 50's and 60's music mainly the whole time I was there. The waitresses wear old diner-style uniforms: pink and black, very cute.

They offer a pretty varied breakfast menu (as well as the whole diner/burger-joint stuff), which is available all day long. As they say their hot cakes are "awesome" (not a term that was probably used to describe food back in 1935), I had to order something from that portion of the menu. I ordered banana-p'nut butter buttermilk hot cakes ~ with housemade (that is what it says on the menu; I wonder if they are tapping maple trees in the back yard to do so) maple syrup and butter. Plus I had a side order of home-fried potatoes and a cuppa coffee.

This normally comes with three pancakes, but I asked them to make me two only ~ "A man's got to know his limitations, Harry!" ~ as I knew there was no way I was going to be able to finish all three pancakes and a side of potatoes. The hot cakes were good, but nothing really exciting ~ just good buttermilk pancakes with peanut butter and bananas; pancakes. The coffee was typical diner-ish coffee: hot, black, tasteless; but I really wasn't expecting anything else (unlike last Saturday's Minor coffee-snob rant of the day). Now the home-fried potatoes were very good ~ made in thin slices and not cubes/chunks; so they were almost a cross between hashbrowns and regular home fries; I really liked these.

As for condimentary supplements, they only have Tabasco® and Tapatío®. So I used some of my own Big Papi En Fuego Hot Sauce ~ Monster Double Medium Hot (Thanks, Kerry!) and Sylvia's Restaurant® ~ Kickin' Hot Hot Sauce (Thanks, Sean!) on the home-fried potatoes ~ half and half.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: banana-p'nut butter hot cakes ~ 6.4; home-fried potatoes ~ 6.7

[1] These are not to be confused with "where little cable cars climb half-way to the stars". Several years back, the San Francisco Municipal Railway bought a fleet of historic trolley/street cars from different cities all over the world: Milan, Philadelphia, N'Orleans (sorry, "Desire" was not one of them), etc.; and had the wheel bases re-worked to fit along the existing rails along Market Street.


  1. It's amazing that this cafe is still going and looks virtually the same as when I lived at Laguna and Waller back in 1975. Yeah, I had many breakfasts at It's Tops. It was run by a man, his son and 2 daughters. I wonder if the boy still owns the place? Will have breakfast here when I visit next year for sure. Great review!

  2. It's probably time for me to go there again myself.