There’s a place near me in the Inner Sunset called Tart to Tart. It’s a bakery/coffee place/Mexican food distributor (kind of.)
Nothing cool has happened here in years. Maybe nothing cool has ever happened here. I don’t know how long this place has been open, but I do remember seeing it the first time I came to San Francisco. I was walking along Irving street in January 2012 and I saw this place and I thought to myself, “That looks so cute.” But I didn’t know anything then, even about the things I thought I knew something. About those things I was especially ignorant.
Tart to Tart is not cute. It’s not adorable, or whimsical. All cuteness about it stops at the name. Keep in mind that I’m speaking only of the Inner Sunset location, and not about any other one. Nowadays I don’t talk so much about things I don’t know, or at least I try to avoid it.
Tart to Tart is a place of supreme function. It stretches out behind its windows into a dark, cave-like interior where all the furniture wobbles and has either been here a long time or was purchased second-hand. Students can camp out here safely. Old friends meet and talk and see other people they know. They say hello and describe the road trip they just took through Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and some other places.
There are no pretensions here. If you have pretensions, they will be ignored. Maybe that makes it a place where you’re safe from the person you pretend to be sometimes, and that’s kind of nice.
This is a place to come if you love coffee so much you don’t care what it tastes like, where you like looking at pastries almost as much as eating a pastry that actually tastes good, where you don’t mind a bathroom that reminds you of gas stations in middle America. Even the word cafe doesn’t really fit – it’s just Tart to Tart, a place you go when you need to go somewhere. That’s all.
Bring cash if you’re buying something that costs less than $3. Or maybe it’s $5. Just bring some cash. It’s the right thing to do.