Linea Caffe opened just six months ago in Duc Loi’s grim back corner space, but the New York Times has already discovered the joint, praising its style and the “mash-up” of menu items. “Espresso, waffles, loud-and-proud salads: Only in San Francisco are these three at home on the same menu,” exclaims the Times, marveling at how only those zany San Francisco kids could possibly pair greens with beans.
According to the Lt. Waffle menu, the waffles are “Brussels-style” — a loose claim. The crispy potato waffle, made with mashed and powdered potatoes pressed into the griddle with hunks of pastrami from Mission Chinese, is served with sauerkraut and pickled mustard seeds. It’s not like anything you’ll find in Belgium. Ditto the buckwheat waffle, a pillowy confection topped with salmon roe, crème fraîche and dill pickles. Add a chopped salad, with romaine, salted radish, fried pieces of tortilla and queso fresco, and you have a meal.
This is the kind of food that reflects the tastes of the Mission District, the neighborhood that’s now the gastronomic epicenter of the city: In this part of town, anything goes on the plate. But being unconventional only counts for so much; the crowd at Linea is there because the coffee, waffles and salads are worth it.
So, is Linea about to blow up as the next ‘it’ Mission coffeeshop-cum-restaurant? Possibly. When the Times gave Weird Fish—right around the corner from Linea—a glowing review in 2008, there was a line outside for years. But today? You can pretty much grab a table whenever you please, despite the restaurant remaining one of the neighborhood’s better splurge meals.
As for Linea “[reflecting] the tastes of the Mission District?” We’ll have to take New York’s word for that.