Review of Cafe Lombard, San Fransisco

When you’ve had to resort to overpriced airport food, your plane’s been delayed by an hour, and you’ve just arrived at your destination, what do you do? Find the nearest open restaurant (after checking Urban Spoon – it served me very well last time I was in San Fransisco, so I figured why not).

We were very close by to Cafe Lombard, an interesting fusion of homestyle Italian food that also appeared to make what they proclaim are “American breakfasts”. Luckily it turned out to be a decent meal, because there was very little else other than a Vietnamese sub shop open nearby. We figured, too, that the Black Magic Voodoo Lounge probably wouldn’t work either…

We started with the homemade bruschetta ($6.50 US), which was fresh and hot, and served quickly. We also ordered some Cokes (or Pepsis, can’t remember which one they had) – one Diet, one regular. We were told they were fountain pops, which was fine with us, but when we got them, they both tasted extremely chemically, like the pipes had just been cleaned or the water was heavily treated, and we couldn’t tell if they were both regular or diet as they both tasted pretty gross.

There is a wide selection of different pastas on the menu and as the Partner in Crime is a vegetarian, and I’m a flexitarian (so to speak), we were glad to see there were some decent vegetarian options. I opted for the Fettuccine Al Pesto and the Partner in Crime went for the Tortellini Napoletana ($13.95 and $13.50 US respectively). The food was hot, fresh, and relatively quick – perfect for starving tourists. They were both delicious, though the Tortellini was somewhat salty, and they worked really well for sharing. The fettuccine  was definitely more generous than the tortellini, but both were very good. Tiny gripe: we didn’t get the glasses of water we ordered and had to ask again. We were too full to try dessert.

We actually ended up returning to try out the breakfast one morning and we both had the 2 egg breakfast ($6.99) and shared some pancakes too. It was much busier this time (filled only with tourists) and it took a while to order, but the food came pretty quickly. The eggs were fresh, the potatoes were nice and crispy, and the coffee was hot. The pancakes were nice and fluffly and light, and we rolled out of there, full and happy. It took quite a while for us to get the bill (understaffed) and I had to ask for change, but in general, I’d say this is a good spot for anyone staying on the Lombard Street strip of hotels and motels.

Overall, the food was great, not too pricey (though I am used to outrageous Vancouver prices, so not sure what others would think), and fast. In terms of atmosphere, it’s a little odd – long and narrow, with a piano in the middle and a fairly open kitchen, pretty plain greasy-spoon type decor, but not a bad find. The bathroom, though clean, was not much to write home about. They do have an enclosed patio at the back, which I assume is opened up in summer.

Check out the full menu and get contact information, opening hours, etc. on their website. Also, the wording on the site is very entertaining, so give it a read.

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