by Unrulybeast!

242 Church St. @ Market
phone: 415.621.6001
hours: Daily (24 hours)
Beer only

I've been in San Francisco for more than 7 years, and Sparky's has always come through for me, because it's open 24 hours,within walking distance of the Castro and one of the only places near the Castro where you can get chili cheese fries at 1 a.m. The food is nothing to rave about, but whether the serving staff be bitchy, apathetic or ultra-cool, and whether the diners be straight, gay, cross-dressers or punk, there's usually someone nice to look at. One of the better places to go at 3 in the morning.

The Ambience:
Disheveled is the word that comes instantly to mind. Disheveled in a random"who the hell cares?" kind of way. I've been there many times, and thinking on it, I can't quite figure out if they're going for any specific thematic motif. What I do remember are wide windows open to Church St. thru which you can watch various freaks of San Francisco walk by. There are 2 sides to the restaurant, one that has booths, and another side on a raised platform with tables jammed a little too close together (which some would call cozy). It has clean, wide open spaces (even if the tables are jammed too tightly in some areas), uninspired lighting (think bright and white) and an eclectic array of typical diner art on the walls. I believe the focus here is more on greasy affordable food and a convergence of club-goers from all over the city, if you catch it at the right hour.

The Menu:
A good selection of basic diner fare. Greasy eggs to slide down your throat, tough little bacon slices, cheese fries lumped together in a bowl, turkey burgers, cheeseburgers, omelettes, hashbrowns that come together in a single matt of crisis-crossed deep-friedness, etc. They also serve decent beer there, which can be bought pretty cheaply, if I remember correctly, on a certain night of the week.

The Food:
Nothing I've ever had there has been special. It's pretty much quick and dirty grub. Grilled cheese sandwiches consist of plain white bread glued around American cheese, the chili cheese fries aren't very spicy, the eggs and bacon are not treated with any degree of artistic temperament. But it doesn't appear they're goin' for anything fancy. I don't think I'd ever expect culinary perfection from this place, but sometimes grub's just gotta be grub, with no pretensions, y'know?

The Service:
The service staff is an eclectic bunch. Punk goth girls, snotty gay boys 5'2" tall, cross-dressers... I've never had bad service there. A few times I've had to wait too long for both the food and the check, but those were during rush hours (after hours and on the weekend) when the restaurant was packed, so it's understandable. My order has always come through as requested, and it's definitely fun to flirt with the cute, spiky-haired waitress who looks at you oddly as you reenact a Shakesperean drama on the linoleum surface of your table using French fries and condiment bottles.

I don't believe they take them. They offer take-out in addition to sit-down, and, as mentioned, sometimes you'll find a line weekends and after hours, depending on the mood of the city. 9 out of 10, I've always just shown up and been able to find a place to sit, but your experience may vary.

Overall: B
The food is nothing special, but I have no complaints for the price. It's more the location and 24 hour availability that does the trick for me. One of the few places I'd feel truly comfortable dressed like a dead prostitute on Halloween night.

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Reviewed : Oct 2003

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