What's Wrong With Dolores Park Cafe?

In the comments section of yesterday’s post about a community meeting regarding food carts in Dolores Park, reader C., at the end of a very astute analysis of the controversial situation, offered up this interesting position:

I think Dolores Park Café could be something, anything so much better…

Any thoughts? I’ve never been inside, but it looks sunny and friendly, and it’s always full of people. Do we like this place or what?

Photo by mikek.

41 Responses to “What's Wrong With Dolores Park Cafe?”

  1. SouthTo says:

    The food is indifferent to bad, the service unfriendly and slow, and it would have long since been gone were it not on such a propitious street corner. I cannot stand that place.

  2. plumpy says:

    Really? I like it. Admittedly, I normally go to Duboce Park Cafe, which is equidistant from my house and has faster service (but the same menu and similar atmosphere), but I think the food is good! It’s more expensive than it should be, but I don’t think it’s bad…

  3. Sheabones says:

    Both times I’ve gone in there they were blasting Ani DiFranco.

  4. kiya says:

    It’s strange, this place has got to be the ONLY cafe in the entire mission district i’ve never been inside in the years i’ve lived here.

  5. Fred McCord says:

    Jesus! Why are people such haters? It’s a decent place, decent food (maybe a little too expensive), and in my experience perfectly lovely staff. It’s almost as if people only bother opening their mouths if they have something negative to say. They’re also probably the same people who often remark “Oh, so and so use to be better!” or “So and so was way cooler then, but they’ve sold out now! or “The Mission use to be cool but now is completely populated with douche bag haters!” Go figure.

  6. SlobDog says:

    It’s a cool space and i found the people friendly but the food was mediocre compared to many other awesome places nearby. I brought a good friend who was visiting from NYC and I was embarrassed at the quality of food and frustrated I didn’t go someplace better. The food is not bad but it just doesn’t stand out to the alternatives and it’s a pricey for what you get. I’ve been there 3 times. Hmm, what else . . . I like BB coffee and I don’t think they do.

  7. John R. says:

    So mediocre it hurts. Survives only because of its location. Last time I was there, I just wanted to sit in the sun with a coffee and read the paper. But I had to spit out the espresso, the cashier was rude, the bathroom was dirty, and the place felt like a student cafe’ with a view.

    • chalkman says:

      Their bathroom is dirty because a huge chunk of DP visitors use it….I’ve always found the staff to be 10X more pleasant than the staff at TARTINE! My only issue is that I wish they brought in more grrlrock, and less “acoustic lesbian” music on thursdays and fridays.

    • Louise Louise says:

      Yep, Yep, and Yep.

  8. Regular says:

    Way too expensive for what you get. I think the staff is better in the morning than the evening though.. I can see how you would think they could be rude. and yes, the coffee is AWFUL!!! I sneak in coffee from Fayes if I am going there. Would be nice if they just put in a little more effort.

  9. Kyle Madison says:

    “Do we like this place or what?”

    What are you, part of a hive mind?

  10. ooeygooey says:

    I think the food “issue” stems from the fact that they don’t/can’t have a typical restaurant kitchen — it has never been a “restaurant,” only a cafe. All the hot food they serve is made in a microwave or other plug in device. That said, I think the food is ok, very similar to what you’d find on Telegraph in Berkeley, meaning that they don’t have to have great or even good food, they have a captive audience.

  11. Ryan says:

    It’s your standard cafe with mediocre, overpriced food and piss-poor coffee. Luckily for them they’re in a great location.

    Speaking of Blue Bottle, too bad they couldn’t take over the former Ebb and Flow space at 18th and Guerrero. A cart would be welcome, but a full service location like Mint Plaza would kill in that location.

    • MrEricSir says:

      Craig’s/Ebb & Flow is built out as a restaurant with a full kitchen. Blue Bottle only serves coffee.

      What about the soon-to-be empty retail space on the corner of 18th and Dolores? You could squeeze a coffee cart in there, add a register, some chairs, and BOOM! instant cafe.

    • Kerry says:

      Ebb & Flow will be taken over by the Mission Beach Cafe folks. Read that on Eater last week.

  12. lisa says:

    i highly recommend their seitan aili sandwich. overpriced but outrageously delish.

  13. Rod says:

    you pose the question as though the collective readers of this blog could somehow tell the owner of this shitty cafe how to run his business.

    yes, it kinda sucks. but there’s a silver lining: if there were something good there, the line would be around the block and you’d never be able to get anything. thank goodness there’s a place where you can just go in and get a shitty cup of coffee or sandwich on a saturday without having to wait in line behind all of the Marina and half of Walnut Creek (see: Tartine/Bi-Rite.)

    • Wavvy Gravvy says:

      I second this!

      I’m thrilled there’s a cafe on 18th street that’s not clotted with twats from some other part of town/the world waiting 25 minutes for snack food because someone told them “it’s worth it.”


  14. M.C. says:

    Wow. This sounds more like a personal attack on one business and followers of Blue bottle coffee. Dolores Park Cafe has totally huge and amazing sandwiches, smoothies off the charts, awesome beer specials, its always packed, and its totally fine. Obviously most haters on this board have never eaten in that place. Fucking loser haters on Mission Mission but on this blog you can’t really expect much more than that.

    • Rod says:

      wow that sounds waaaay more like a personal attack than anything else that’s been said. what’s it like owning a cafe?

      • mIke says:

        Not sure Rod, whats its like jerking off to Blue Bottle coffee. Glad to chat somtime. I work at Weird Fish. Come by anytime and ask for Mike!

  15. Mary says:

    They make some tasty chai, in fact their chai is much better than many other places. The staff is nice. The food is too expensive.

    I’ve been to the bathroom there and there is nothing to complain about.

  16. J says:

    don’t listen to C
    he is a professional charlatan

  17. C. says:

    I didn’t mean to start a riot, but it’s kinda cool that everyone is so expressive.
    I also did most definitely NOT mean to make a personal attack on any person, but perhaps just a critical remark on an approach to a food business.
    I have indeed been to DPC, but no one I know ever wants to go there, unless just to use the bathroom, to site outside on a chair in the sun, or because other places nearby are totally mobbed.
    I’ve had various teas there, which were decent, and pastries, which were very just okay, and the people were never unfriendly, but were always quite busy performing commercial transactions at a busy counter set up just for that kind of contact.
    An older friend of mine worked in the same space when she was a 19-year-old hippie in, like, 1970. She said it was very cool then. (It might have been hippie vegetarian too.)
    But I do think it could easily be made better, by aspiring to some food values that are humanly good (fresh, local, organic, handmade) and very well-exemplified in the vicinity.
    I will try the chai next time. I mean, I usually get mine at Udupi Palace (Rulez!), but… (Now may we have an item on Udupi Palace?)

  18. Jess L. says:

    Like many of the other commenters, I tried them a couple times, and they were just okay. With the world-class alternatives nearby I never saw the point of going back.

  19. austin says:

    Their coffee is pretty much abominable.

  20. Ian says:

    my best experience there was one time when I met a friend and we just sat at a table in the sun, didnt buy anything, just talked for an hour and then left. So, props to DPC for that.

  21. Louise Louise says:

    Expensive, average everything, little effort in what they serve. Great location, shame about all the rest of it. Staff seem to have an air of superiority too, like most baristas….

  22. John R. says:

    Yes, in 1970, and for quite awhile before that, way before it was the Real Good Karma Cafe, it was the Good Karma Cafe; the first natural food restaurant in San Francisco. There were no big windows on 18th St. It was dark, woodsy and brown, and basically a total revelation. I know it’s hard to imagine that tea, miso, and sunflower seeds seemed like revolutionary foods, but if you grew up in 50′s America they did. It felt like the coolest place in the world to me, and I cooked my version of Zen Fried Rice (brown rice, sauteed with cabbage, canned tuna, and tamari) in various home kitchens all through college.

  23. YouguysisBrutal says:

    You guys are brutal and pretty much idiots. Hey Hey…go Blue Bottle for letting the media and politics boost you up! If anyone ever dug deeper you would know that your heart throb pimp, Blue bottle is backed by a super huge venture capital company,…uhhhh, some far right in the company…ummmm…oh yeh, just like Whole Foods!Touted to make Blue Balls, I mean Blue bottle the next Starbucks.
    Ummmmm, I think they are called..uhhhhh…Kolhberg Ventures. Go Four Barrel. Go
    Ritual. Maybe one day you can franchise just like Blue Bottle with super rich Venture Capitalist too. Im sure Mission Mission would find a way to fuck you too.

    • Rhiannon says:

      Award for a valid point buried in an impossible-to-understand mess of grunts and badly formed and placed ellipses goes to YouguysisBrutal and his one-time-only handle!

  24. highkix says:

    the DPC greek salad is delish and i have to appreciate a place that let’s DP-goers use the restroom without buying anything. it’s not a cool or interesting place – just a neighborhood cafe serving basic food and drink. get over it, hipsters.

  25. rachel says:

    DP Cafe has been sucky ever since I moved to SF in the late 1990s. The food is nothing more than so-so at best, and seems even worse considering Tartine, Delfina and Bi-Rite are right around the corner. Coffee is usually luke warm. But it survives due to location, obviously.