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Inner Sunset Classic: Art’s Cafe










Ye Olde Diner sign in the Inner Sunset

Everything about Art’s Cafe is like the legs of a competitive swimmer: streamlined, muscular, each sinew working in harmony towards one goal, and shaved of every superfluity that might get in the way of the smooth movement of water over it’s impeccable surface.  The water in this overwrought metaphor is the restaurant’s patronage, whose flow is directed with mirthless efficiency by the owners, a late middle age Korean couple.

Wedged like an architectural afterthought between a shoe shop and an upscale Peruvian restaurant, Art’s Cafe is nonetheless a beloved, scruffy little institution for the residents of the Inner Sunset, having been founded there over 60 years ago.  It exemplifies both the unpretentious spirit of the neighborhood, and it’s casual culinary diversity (it’s not everyday you find cinnamon french toast and the Korean signature Bi Bim Bop on the same menu).  One of the most interesting and least fussy areas of the city, rare is the visit that doesn’t yield some little surprise.

Art’s is a simple affair, comprised of a single long counter from which a patron gazes at the kitchen while chewing his cud.  The husband mans the range while his poker-faced wife handles the Front-of-House duties (a spatial differentiation that’s unnecessary  in their case).   They sling comforting repasts to the regulars along the counter with nonchalant, practiced speed.  It’s unusual to leave Art’s with the sensation that your wallet is any skinnier than when you entered: two pancakes, two eggs, and four strips of bacon or sausage runs you less than six bucks.  After coffee and a tip you’ve spent less than you would for a single cocktail at Alembic.


Art’s Cafe
747 Irving Street
[Inner Sunset]

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Matt Fink - Fatt Mink

Matt Fink - Fatt Mink

I grew up in San Jose, only 50 minutes away from S.F. My dad, brother and I came up often to visit family and/or to fart around, and whenever the car came over the rise on Hwy. 101 just after Candlestick Park, I could hear an almost audible "Click" in my brain. The blinding, beautifully rolling blanket of diverse urbanity spread out before our speeding automobile, coupled with draughts of the clean, cool air conspired to instill in me a growing discontent with San Jose. Add access to hitherto unknown strata of music, booze and food culture, not to mention pet-deification and testicular-separators, and I couldn't be kept away for long. Even after ten years of residency, the sight of a glistening pair of moose-knuckles swinging down Market St. still makes my heart swell with pride.