My first trip to St. Francis Fountain was years ago after a boozy night with my friend Heather and a few other folks. I remember us packing into a booth in the back, our table overflowing with coffee mugs and huge plates of breakfast hangover cures. When we all emerged into the sunlight an hour later everyone was happy and mostly recovered from the night before.
These days my late nights are thanks to middle of the night feeding sessions, but a breakfast cure works just as well for those too. St. Francis was high on the list of places I wanted to take my husband, but until we moved across town we had other delicious breakfast options in closer proximity with shorter waits (mmm, Pork Store). Still, I knew he would love it so I took the family over on Memorial Day. I anticipated a crowd, but we waited longer for our coffee than we did for our table. Parties are only seated when everyone arrives, so even if the sign-in sheet is long chances are your wait will be shorter than you think.
We were tucked in next to the classic candies and trading cards (remember that crazy old TV show V? Yes, they had cards, and St. Francis has some that can be yours for only $3). The space isn't huge but they now have seating outside and next door in their annex in addition to the original restaurant space.
The menu is classic diner fare, like massive omelettes stuffed with veggies and cheese and pancake platters, along with plenty of SF twists like vegan scrambles, wraps and salads. St. Francis is also a traditional soda fountain, so malts and shakes are a choice for dessert any time of the day, and non-dairy types like me can get shakes and malts with soy ice cream (I didn't only because I was stuffed from breakfast).
Halfway through his french toast my husband said, "This stuff is so good I really don't need syrup," as he handed me a bite. It was just sweet enough on its own and almost made me wish I'd ordered that instead of my own delicious mushroom scramble, which came with their signature crispy crunchy oniony potatoes. There was enough food on both of our plates to make a full breakfast for Mia as well, and in the end we had a little left over.
Plenty of families with babies from nearly newborn on up arrived while we were there, and the hosts and waitstaff got everyone seated as quickly as possible and with careful attention to the placement of hot cups of coffee and precious mimosas.
Note: Make sure to let the host know if you have a stroller or need a high chair. You might get seated faster if you can take a smaller table with a little one tucked into their own seat next to you. Keep an eye on little hands as well—there is a lot of stuff to grab (like the classic Simpsons poster Mia yanked off the wall—oops!) The 24th St/York Playground is right across the street, so take the kids there before or after you eat to work off some energy and build up an appetite. Also, all parents should take a ride in the blue cup. Just do it.
VERDICT: St. Francis is a winner whether you go sweet or savory. Don't be dismayed by the line, it just means you'll have more time to get hungry for the huge plate of whatever you're about to enjoy. Definitely bring the kids along!
2801 24th Street
San Francisco, CA
Stroller Friendly? Yes
High Chairs? Yes
Takes Reservations? No
Changing Tables? No