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Inner Sunset Classic: Art’s Cafe

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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 onto 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 Cafe 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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Fatt Mink

Fatt Mink

I was born into a family of bookworms and staunch pinkos in downtown San Jose, California.
I lived in San Francisco from 2002-2016, during which time I studied music and Italian at S.F State and worked as a waiter and bartender in restaurants and bars both foul and divine; I credit my considerable experience in the industry with birthing my eternal burnin' love for food and booze, still a driving force in my life. I lived in Rome for 8 months in 2016 and then moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, where I currently write for a newspaper and play music.