Dottie’s True Blue Cafe recently moved to a bigger location in the heart of the Tenderloin, at 28 6th Street, just south of Market in the former Passion Cafe space. Despite the endless parade of characters on the sidewalk, locals and tourists willingly endure hour-plus waits for one of the best breakfasts in the city. Take our word for it: you will have to wait a long time to get into Dottie’s, especially during peak breakfast times or on the weekend.

Standing in line for over an hour for food can turn the nicest people into monsters. To make sure everyone in your group remains friends, we recommend snacking in line. For us, Dottie’s baked goods always do the trick, so nominate someone to wait in line while you grab take-out from the cafe. Try the house-made pastries. On a recent visit, choices included caramel walnut scones and fresh raspberry cream cheese muffins. Wash them down with Dottie’s coffee: though it’s on the weak side, there are unlimited refills.

Frittata and Coffee

Once you’re seated, it’s game time, so loosen your belt, and try as many things as you can. Standouts include the egg dishes and the pancakes, made of whole wheat flour and buttermilk, spiced with ginger and cinnamon.

If you like savory breakfasts, don’t miss the chalkboard specials. Our favorites are the frittata (with avocado, tomato, corn, scallion, jalapeno, and feta) and scramble (with grilled zucchini, mushroom, roasted red pepper, pesto, and fresh mozzarella). Both come with toast and potatoes on the side. When it comes to the toast, the buttermilk-dill is much tastier than the overly-dense whole wheat. For a real treat, upgrade to the chili-cheddar cornbread with jalapeno jelly; it’s definitely worth an extra dollar. Dottie’s offers a fleet of hot sauces, so feel free to mix it up with the various flavors of Tabasco and Tapatio.

Dottie’s looms large on the San Francisco breakfast scene, alongside other heavyweights like Mama’s (in North Beach, on Washington Square), Brenda’s (in The Tenderloin, on Polk), Ella’s (in Laurel Heights, at Presidio and California), Zazie (in Cole Valley, on Cole), and NOPA (in Nopa, on Divisadero). The names on this list have a couple things in common: delicious breakfasts and excruciating weekend waits. While Dottie’s remains our favorite, the rest have a lot to offer. French toast is the standout at Mama’s and NOPA. Zazie has a charming outdoor patio, and Ella’s has great hash and pancakes. Brenda’s has captured French soul food in its beignet flights, grillades (tender beef cutlets in spicy creole gravy), and benedicts.

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