Dottie’s True Blue Cafe: Throwback Breakfast in the Tenderloin [CLOSED]

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Breakfast Restaurant San Francisco

The Tenderloin is best known for Pakistani comfort food. Dottie's does breakfast.

Mama’s on Washington Square had an hour wait, so we “settled” for a half-hour line outside Dottie’s True Blue Café. Settled isn’t really the right word, since Dottie’s is a great breakfast spot in its own right. It’s just in a less desirable location, situated in the heart of The Tenderloin. According to our waitress, the café has existed for 18 years, and Kurt Abney has been chef-owner for the past 15. Considering that Abney makes every bite of food with help from just one assistant, it’s amazing that he’s been able to keep up the torrid pace. If there were ever a short-order cook-off, I’d put my money on Abney.

Breakfast Restaurant San Francisco

The interior is classic coffee shop, including lanterns shaped like teapots, cups and saucers.

The walls feature photos of Dorothy Dandridge and a thermometer that reads, “Dr. Barber’s Horse Liniment: Also Good for Mules and Jackasses.” Old music plays over the speakers. Abney is clearly a traditionalist.

Near the entrance is a massive pastry case, which Abney dubbed “Dottie’s Own Bakery.” All of Dottie’s breads, pastries, muffins and scones are made in-house, from Abney’s recipes. By the way, there’s no Dottie, and never has been; it’s just an old-fashioned name designed to evoke simpler times.

Breakfast San Francisco

A hot, icing-slathered Cinnamon Pecan Roll ($4.50) was soft and gooey. Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin ($1.95) was solid.

Breakfast San Francisco

Blueberry Torte ($4.50) could have done without the melting whipped cream cap, but there was no doubt the moist pastry and sweet berries worked well together.

A dry erase board listed the day’s specials.

Breakfast San Francisco

Sweet potato, caramelized red onion and Gruyere tart ($9.95) came with two eggs and a pair of fist-sized biscuits that cried out for strawberry preserves. There was even a dish of fresh fruit: strawberries, blueberries, grapes and pineapple.

Pancakes San Francisco

Fluffy Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes ($9.25) were another blackboard special, plated with a pitcher of maple syrup. If a dish involves batter at Dottie’s, order it.

Pancakes San Francisco

Dottie’s (justifiably) Famous Pancakes ($6.25) integrated whole-wheat buttermilk, ginger (for spice) and cinnamon (for sweetness). My father ordered a “Side Idea” of Mild Italian Sausage ($3.95) – butterflied and grilled.

Breakfast San Francisco

The True Blue Plate ($9.75) included a small juice, two eggs, bacon, stellar home-fried potatoes and toast.

We had a very good experience at Dottie’s. Next time, it might not be a given that Mama’s will be the first San Francisco breakfast place that comes to mind.

UPDATE: Now located at 28 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

What happened to Kurt Abney? I gave known him for years and I can not find him anymore? Is he alive?

Erran, Is this him? If so, Kurt posted semi-regularly on Instagram last year. Looks like he’s enjoying retirement. Hopefully that’s the case.

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