Ah, Dottie’s True Blue Cafe. If there is a food joint in the Loin that has more of a line (put your hands down, soup kitchens), I’d like to see it. For those of us who live here, we know the location well on Jones between Geary and O’Farrell because you just look for the massive crowd across the street from Chutney and next door to Shalimar. It’s an intense line of hungry, grumbly people as the wait takes forever. I have to give a respectable salute to the staff at Dottie’s as they manage this crowd well and even put up a note to the effect of, “Hey, we’re popular, but we don’t want to give crappy service. Wait and we’ll get to you in turn.” I like that.
After having visited Dottie’s after a very long hiatus from the place, I’ll definitely admit that the food is good if classic (although there usually are a couple of interesting items in their menu, such as their famous jalapeno corn bread). It doesn’t blow me out of my seat and I greatly prefer Brenda’s (although it often has identical wait times), but they make really solid breakfast dishes. What I don’t like in regards to the place is that travel writers are incredibly duplicitous in having blown the place so far out of proportion that I’m sure more than a few diners must leave a bit let down. I mean, there are a lot of other spots to eat in the Loin, but from Lonely Planet, to Rough Guides, to Time Out, to just about every other guide in dead tree format as well as online (such as Wikitravel) they give Dottie’s such wickedly high marks, it’s ridiculous.
Below are a few from a couple excerpts from travel guides that I bumped across when randomly looking up places to eat in the Loin.
This classic Tenderloin joint garners adoration and acclaim from its devotees by doling out massive three-egg omeletes, fat slices of French toast, homemade muffins…
…it may well be one of the best breakfasts you’re ever tasted. A quintessential piece of West Coast Americana.
…an otherwise heavenly food experience.
Taken singularly, these reviews might be relatively harmless and help provide guests to our fair city with one of any number of fine dining choices. But, it appears that the writers have taken a rather lazy approach and have just started to assume that because there are lines, it must be good and thus they must include it as being amazing. Given the schedules that most travel writers have to keep, I seriously doubt that they’ve spent the hours in line that it takes to eat at Dottie’s and if experienced travelers, I fail to see how they consider it to be one of the best places to eat, period.
For anyone local who hasn’t tried it yet (and given the lines, I can understand why), don’t even think about going there during actual breakfast times. Go there about 2:15 onwards as they close at three. Again, there are indeed other choices in our hood, but I almost feel like your breakfast street cred just ain’t real unless you’ve done the True Blue.
To close, I think that Jessica D, over on the Yevil put it best:
This place is okay, but the wait is far too long. I’ve been here now twice and I’m slightly convinced that the food tastes so good once you sit down because you are literally going blind from hunger.