It's a big wide world of food out there and occasionally I do get outside of the city to run errands or hit up the random (full-sized) Target or you know, a mall. When I do, I try to find one of those out of the way off the beaten path kind of places that locals know, and others totally miss. On one particular joint down South San Francisco way, I stumbled across a small place in a kind of semi-strip mall of other business. It's called Jo Ann's Cafe and as the sun sparkled across it's entrance, I thought, this must be the place for me to eat on this day. The rays of light were like a sign! (or bad camera lighting) But really helpful, considering we missed it and drove past this place once before circling back around. (Take note--the strip of shops it's in is pretty nondescript.)
It's a small, long, narrow space that has that old school diner feel with vinyl booths with red Formica tables, a long counter with twirling stools, shades of pink on the walls and a black and white checkered floor. This is a true breakfast all day, lunch kind of spot. The menu is an array of egg/omelet dishes, salads, burgers and sandwiches. It looks like they do a dinner thing and some entrees, but since I feel like I'm in a 50's diner we are gonna go old-school and go straight to burger town. They only have one specific burger on the menu, the rest are a build your own kind thing.
So I build my own mushroom Swiss burger--$7.95 for the basic and $1 each for the cheese and sauteed mushrooms with a side of fries for $9.95. The barbecue bacon cheese burger is the only actual listed one so we get that with salad for $10.95. To say the portion sizes are formidable would be a bit of an understatement as you can see from the photos. Roughly 6+ ounces of cooked perfectly medium rare-sh burgers on a large toasted sesame seed bun with either a truck load of fries or a garden full of salad. They also come with all the fixings on the side--lettuce, tomato, pickle, red onion and mayo. What can I say, they were really good burgers, done right, piled high and chin dripping juicy. The fries were hot out of the fryer, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside. The salad, was well, salad. Mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers--all the healthy basics to off set the bacon, cheese and meat you are about to consume. Were this burger served in San Francisco, it would be one of the better ones around town when looking at all factors like taste, portion size and cost. It's a real winner.
We just happen to land in this place during the busy lunch rush, but we got a seat pretty quickly. The service was friendly and the food came soon after ordering. Add in a bottomless glass of un-sweet tea that seemed to be constantly filled and Jo Ann's really hit all the right diner notes. If they do the classic burger this well, I'm pretty sure they a quite good breakfast to boot. At least most folks on their Yelp! page think so.
Jo Ann's Cafe is one of those place that many folks who live in the area probably already know about, but when you don't live nearby and stumble across it, it feels like your own secret food getaway. Which really isn't the case if your Facebook rating is 4.5 stars, it means they are doing something right. Added bonus, even though I was meat and potatoes stuffed and didn't get one, they bake their own array of muffins that are in a case near the register.
If you ever find yourself down South San Francisco way (yes, there is life outside the city) and are looking for quick, tasty bite down the El Camino Real trail, Jo Ann's Cafe is a perfect little spot to drop in and eat up.