pinecrest diner....sometimes you just gotta' eat
Food, it's everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Sometimes as is the case with me, I want something to eat, but everywhere I look, I'm like eh. And I would just as soon walk on till something strikes my fancy. It can be challenging for the SO to be sure. Every now and then I make a decision such as, "I want a burger!" But I don't want to think about or try to search one out. I just want it from whatever is nearest. This is what brought me to Pinecrest Diner, a "San Francisco institution" of dubiousness that has been slinging the hash 24/7 for decades downtown.
Make no mistake, this is old school diner town with vinyl booths and a long counter where solo diners can consume all the classics without being self conscious about it. Now, I love a good diner, though mostly I love them for a quick and hearty breakfast in the morning or (used to be) late night after bar hopping then jonesing on some waffles with a side of onion rings. Yes, that is what alcohol does to your cravings. On this particular day, I stand across the street in the middle of an afternoon and am like, sure WTF, let's get a burger.
It has been really long while since I have been here and walking in is kind of like stepping back in time to the 60's with all the dark wood paneling, booths and vinyl. The place however is surprisingly clean and well kept like a cherished heirloom in your grandmother's house. No sticky counters or grease stains on the wall here.
It is not very crowded as I wander down and take the last seat at the far end of the counter. It affords me a long view of the diner and a front row seat to the guy cooking on the grill behind the counter. Since I'm here for one thing, I skip to the last page of the menu while noting their other offerings like spaghetti bolognese, shrimp louie, fried chicken, salisbury steak(!) and country fried steak and gravy. Ahhh....all the classics.
But my craving zeros in on the mushroom and Swiss burger which comes with fries for $11.95. That is SF pricing, in Kansas it would probably be $8.95 or something. I am like, whatever, though you will be surprised to know I decided to skip the bacon addition. Instead I change those regular fries to sweet potato fries for another $2. Then add in another $2.50 for a giant glass of tea which I'm fine with as I will probably drink 3 of them before I'm done. With tax and tip it ends up somewhere around $20. Again, SF pricing. But this is what I got.
Lettuce, tomato, pickle, side of mayo, 6 ounce burger patty on a toasted sesame seed bun with a generous helping of mushrooms and Swiss cheese. Not to mention a boat load of THIN CUT sweet potato fries, something you don't see very often.
I asked for it medium rare just to see what I would get and sure enough, the dude cooked it right up to a nice pinkish red in the center and a lovely little char on the outside. The burger was messy, juicy and tasty in all the right ways. Slather on some fatty mayo, that slightly sweet Heinz ketchup and crunchy lettuce and it is burger heaven for me. I end up cutting it in half just to be able to eat it all with as little mess and napkins as I can manage. Yum.
And the sweet potatoes fries were fresh out of the fryer, hot, crispy and lightly salted. Of course that was a little part of my plan with getting them. I figure no one else has ordered any so the ones I get will new and not ones that have been sitting around awhile. It is a sneaky way to get fresh fries. Another is to ask for ones without salt as they will do a new batch and you can still get them hot and salt 'em yourself.
It was like when a plan comes all together. Your craving meets a place that on that particular day does exactly what you want them to do, the way you want them to do it. A juicy burger, some crisp fries, a giant glass of tea and all is well in hunger town. Sure, I probably paid a bit more than I really wanted to but I really liked what I got plus a number of refills. Pinecrest Diner isn't the fanciest place in town and doesn't really rank up there with all the foodie spots, but I usually tell people, if you are looking for some decent basic diner food, especially at breakfast, they are definitely a great option downtown. Plus, price wise, it won't necessarily break a tourists wallet. Or a locals for that matter either.