Alrighty, folks. I have to do this one. The Buena Vista Cafe is something of a traditional meeting place in my family, and while sitting there a couple weeks back, I figured, hey. This is brunch. Let’s blog about it.
I am actually prone to avoiding this place, because (well, like everywhere you want to go for brunch in the city, I admit) it can get packed. The further deterrent is that the restaurant is located right near Ghirardelli Square, Aquatic Park, and a cable car turnaround, aka Tourist Central. On top of all of that, the Buena Vista is full of communal tables and it’s self-seating. So when someone in my family suggests that we go here, I usually groan in bleak anticipation of the struggle for a table that might ensue. That part really is not my fave.
But the Buena Vista is also something of a San Francisco classic. They are famous for their Irish Coffees, which are made with perfect proportions of coffee to whiskey, and served in a drink-specific glass that will give you maximum Irish Coffee enjoyment. There’s a whole bunch of drama just surrounding those glasses.
And I had almost forgotten how good those Irish Coffees really are. They do have them down to a science, and that delicious creamy blend is heavenly. It’ll make you turn up your nose when other bars try to imitate them.
On to the food. Well… this, I will say, is more of your basic diner food. Among my group, there were three orders for the breakfast combo, one for the hash, and I got…wait for it… French Toast. Mi familia enjoys the food here, knows what to expect, and were all happy with the dishes they ordered. That’s what you want out of comfort food, I suppose. But I’m on a quest for the best French Toast ever. And so the Buena Vista’s doesn’t quite hold up for me. The bread was flimsy and absolutely *swimming* in butter. I detected a savory, bacon-like flavor that made me think that the same pan had been used for a few different purposes, and as we’ve also proven thus far, I don’t want savory in my French Toast.
You don’t necessarily go to these San Francisco landmark destinations to criticize the food, but there’s my take on it. I do still dread the prospect of standing around like a vulture waiting to swoop down on a table as soon as one becomes available. But I hadn’t been to the Buena Vista in a long time, and this was a very nice reminder of how scrumptious the Irish coffees are. We may or may not have tried to smuggle one out in a to-go cup (which the waitress frowned upon, so if you’re going to try that you’d better be a lot sneakier than my sister was.) Even though my family loves this place (more for sentimental reasons, because remember, established San Francisco gem?), I never crave their food. If you feel the need, go see the historic sights, stop in for an Irish coffee at the bar, and try to catch a glimpse of the pair of brothers who have bartended there for over 30 years. Read the history written in newspapers hung on the walls, sip your coffee, and then…go for brunch somewhere else. 🙂