Restaurants Worth the Wait Time

At bureaucratic hellholes like the DMV, the ever-present lines are caused by inept, apathetic, and/or mildly deranged employees, but every so often, a long line means the product is so good busy people are happy to wait for it. So it is at these restaurants, where almost anytime you go, you can expect to find a veritable conga-line of people happily queuing up for an hour or more. Here are five spots that are worth the standing in line for, and some tips to avoid the wait. (Photo: The line for the Tuesday-only burger at Rosamunde)

Updated: November 26, 2009

The line-up

Burma Super Star Restaurant

309 Clement St, San Francisco, CA 94118

Great restaurants that don't take reservations are always going to have a line, but the ever-present queue at this Burmese spot in the Richmond is downright ridiculous--until you try the food. From the simple-but-perfect samusas to the 22-ingredient Rainbow Salad, Superstar makes its patrons forget all about their now-aching feet, and unlike most of the other places on this list, it has great atmosphere to boot. To avoid waiting, call this unlisted number (415) 350-7117 and see if they'll put your name on the list; if not, you can always head over to Burma's nearby sister restaurant, B Star Bar, where the food is just as good and the line non-existent.

San Tung Chinese Restaurant

1031 Irving St, San Francisco, CA 94122

This Chinese spot in the Sunset is solid all around--great potstickers, hot-and-sour soup, shrimp-and-leek dumplings--but everything else pales in comparison to the dry-fried chicken wings, which single-handedly cause the interminable waits here every night of the week. Spicy-sweet, moist inside, crispy outside, these wings are what all other wings can only dream of being, and deserve their fame as one of SF's favorite dishes. If you're with a group of six or more you can make reservations and avoid the line; if not, make sure to get there before 6:30pm when the crowds arrive.

Dottie's True Blue Cafe

522 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Perhaps no truer testament to deliciousness exists in the world than the long line outside this breakfast mecca in the mornings ? on one of the most drug-infested corners in the Tenderloin. Because everything is made from scratch with top-quality ingredients, Ginger-cinnamon pancakes, French toast and even straightforward omelets are revelations here, and explain why so many are willing to march through a gauntlet of drunks and junkies at 9am only to wait another hour to eat. Said hour, it must be noted, will not be a boring one--the jaw-dropping depravity of this neighborhood's street scene is quite absorbing. Also, little known, invaluable and highly recommended tip: You can call in your order to Dottie's for pickup.

Ike's Place

3506 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94114

You won't wait in a line, per se, but walk-ins will definitely wait (up to an hour) for one of Ike's famous Franken-sandos, like the Elvis Keith (Halal Chicken Breast, Teriyaki Sauce, Wasabi Mayo, Swiss), and the deadly sounding Doomsday (Roast Beef, Corned Beef, Pastrami, Salami, Turkey, Bacon, Ham, Mozzarella Sticks, Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers, Avocado), and some of the city's best vegan sando options. To skirt the wait, call in your order 45 minutes before you're ready to eat, and take that fat mother to go--this Castro spot isn't famous for its atmosphere or comfortable seating anyway.

Rosamunde Sausage Grill

545 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

Every Tuesday at lunchtime, you'll find a long line of both scruffy Lower Haight locals and foodies who've crossed town for Rosamunde's legendary burger, which can take up to an hour, and is only offered that day until they sell out--and they always do. Luckily, the equally legendary beer bar, Toronado, is right next door, has an 11:30am-6pm happy hour (all pints $2.50), and the guys at Rosamunde will come get you when your burger's ready. Some waiting here is inevitable, but to cut it down to about 30 minutes, arrive when they open at 11:30am sharp to place your order.