Tartine Bakery: "Insanely popular bakery in The Mission District" Tartine Bakery & Cafe Tip by emilesc
Tartine Bakery & Cafe, San Francisco: 3 reviews and 3 photos
I am floored this bakery hasn't yet warranted its own category among VT tips, because this one was recommended to me by several locals as the best bakery in San Francisco, bar none. So this will be blasphemy, but I wasn't crazy about the place. Maybe I just made an off choice in picking my sandwich. Overall, however, for quality, freshness and presentation, it was probably the best bakery I visited in SF.
The ambience is one of contradictions: on one hand it's all slick, sterile, stainless steel; but on the other you can choose between tables for two and large tables that seat about 8 people which would seem to encourage a cozier, community atmosphere. Perhaps this schizophrenia of personality is why people end up sitting together but then studiously avoiding eye contact. But I do like the idea of communal tables and I wish I'd see that more often.
The service left a bit to be desired, or perhaps I just lucked out getting the one surly cashier.
Favorite Dish: I ordered a Croque Monsieur, but perhaps I should have gone with the pressed sandwich option, which everyone in the restaurant seemed to be having. This will sound incredibly pretentious of me, but I had better Croque Monsieurs in France.
Now dialing down the pretension a bit and heading straight for the absurd... come to think of it, I liked the one I got at the French place at the Farmers Market in Los Angeles better.
According to the restaurant's official website, the sandwich is made with bechamel, gruyère, thyme and pepper, but I swear there was something ricotta-like in texture in that sandwich that was not to my liking. I've never heard of chunky bechamel before, so I really couldn't tell you what it was.
Oh, by the way, you'll see what looks like a baby carrot to the right of the sandwich in the photo. Avoid it. It's pickled, spicy as all heck and doesn't enhance the flavor of the sandwich at all. Wow, this turning out to be a worse review than I'd intended.
On the positive side, the sandwich was huge and I got through only half of it. And the to-go boxes are set up nicely at a self-service station.
I fared much better with the hot chocolate. There was a sign letting us know where the chocolate came from, and I believe it was Scharffen Berger, since it looks like all the pastries came from there. This is in line with the current local/organic/artisanal fad SF is going through, since Scharffen Berger is in nearby Berkeley. The cocoa was on the bittersweet side, which isn't usually my thing, but this one I enjoyed and ended up wishing I'd ordered the large size.
Address: 600 Guerrero Street @ 18th San Francisco, CA 94110
Price Comparison: about average
Directions: You have your choice of BART, the J train and the 33 bus to 16th Street.
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