Fog City Diner: Still a Charmer, but Far from the Forefront
The second installment in a new series of posts looking into restaurants and food producers that San Francisco has loved for so long that they've slipped into a media black hole.
I can't imagine what the view was like in 1985, when the diner opened in the shadow of the Embarcadero freeway, but now it's innocuous and sunny, the bay flashing blue through the gaps between wharf buildings. Unlike most restaurants its age, the place shows no sign of scuffing ― the chrome and checkerboard tiles still gleam, the woodwork is still burnished, the cafe tables don't look like they've weathered a thousand knife cuts.
But the food itself, well ... it was fine. A plate of onion rings in Anchor Steam batter took some assertive chomping to bite through, though the curry-laced homemade ketchup tasted as if it had held up to the changing times. Those short-rib sliders were gummy and dry. And while the grilled snapper sandwich and its accompanying fries were perfectly cooked, the mango salsa tasted vague, with none of that bright interplay of fruit, chiles, onions, and herbs that made it a bistro staple from 1986 to 1997.
I can't imagine sending anyone to Fog City Diner these days for a meal representative of San Francisco's food scene, but if they were staying downtown or along the waterfront, the place has more than enough appeal to make a drink at the bar memorable.