L.A. Café

Overall Rating: 1.950


Address: 201A Turk St.
Cross Street(s): Jones St.
City, State ZIP: San Francisco, CA 94102
Neighborhood: Tenderloin
Phone: 415.563.1508
Hours: Su-Sa 6am-7pm
Type of Establishment: Cafe
Cafe Rating: 1.50
Barista: 2
Savvy: 1
Ambiance: 1
Presentation: 2
Consistency: N/A
Espresso Machine: Astoria
Coffee Rating: 2.40
Aroma: 3
Body: 3
Brightness: 3
Crema: 2
Flavor: 1
Taster's Correction: 0.0
Size: M
Primary Taste: Warming
Coffee Beans: America's Best Coffee
Cup Manufacturer: Paper
Price: $1.75
Last Update: 05/13/2009
First Reviewed: 05/13/2009
Notes: None

Review
Be afraid. Be very afraid. That we visited here, and survived, we can attribute to a momentary bit of madness. This is one of those places we knew would be bad, but the experimentalists in us were compelled to see how low we could go. First and foremost, you have to start with the location. While it isn't on one of the Tenderloin's worst intersections, everything about this café screamed, "Run! Don't walk!" The corner entrance has no fewer than two signs designating it as an emergency exit only, plus a No Trespassing sign posted by the SF police to prevent vagrancy. So you have to walk in via a side entrance further down Jones St. Once inside, it looks like any Happy Donuts chain with its plain tables and chairs, but this is misery coffee at its finest (complete with the same neon coffee sign you could find at China Basin's Creamery). At the far end of the café was a drugged-out, hooded Dave Chappelle look-alike who did not move during the 30 minutes we were inside. This is hard living here: the rest of the clientele who came in and out sported either gold teeth or wheelchairs, if not both. If this is "L.A. Café", it's more downtown Broadway than Hollywood. The pastries are covered in plastic, and the owners sport a Vietnamese calendar advertising bail bonds. Using a two-group Astoria with the portafilter handles left out, they pull surprisingly short shots of "espresso" that look and taste more like water than anything else. This homeopathic espresso comes coated with a balding layer of almost white-pale crema and tastes neither bitter nor ashy - nor much like anything at all. At a steep $1.75 price, we have to figure that the owners are gouging like anyone else trying to make a living in this neighborhood.