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San Francisco Loves Paying $4 For Toast

We tried to find out why Californians are paying major dough for fancy bread.

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Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

In case you haven't heard, toast costs a staggering amount of money in San Francisco.

I mean, not if you just buy a bag of Wonder Bread and throw it in a toaster. But we're talking about our city's now-legendary breakfast offering: artisanal toast.

If you spend $4 on a plush slice of Bay Area toast, you'll get a slab of bread that's at least an inch thick and covered with a generous amount of topping, be it some frou-frou hipster crap or just some good old-fashioned cinnamon sugar.

Tony toast has evolved from a widely-mocked trend into a bona fide breakfast staple here. Which means it's worth the high prices, right? Is it?

We set out on a gluttonous gluten binge across Frisco to find out which would be the toast with the most.

TOAST CRAWL RULES:

1. Eat as much toast as your sad human lifeform can stuff in its gaping maw.

2. Approach the toast with a critical eye, like that of Gordon Ramsay, Adam Platt or a baby tasting a lemon for the first time.

3. Don't do drugs and stay in school.

YOUR CRITICS: JESS, MATHEW, JEFF, AND NICOLE

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Trouble Coffee (4033 Judah St.) is a surfer-favored coffeeshop tucked in a tiny shop near the Pacific Ocean

Trouble is too cool to have a menu, but regulars know to order the toast ($4), which is a generous hunk of white bread smothered in butter, cinnamon and sugar.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

And for good reason: this is ~serious toast.~

Jess: I want the bread to be more substantial. I wish it was denser.Mathew: The cinnamon sugar is kind of basic, not really that impressed.Nicole: It's saltier than expected. I love that the bread is super light and satisfyingly thick.Jeff: The amount of butter really makes this awesome. I used to make cinnamon toast a lot as a kid, so this brings back good memories. They did it right.
Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

Jess: I want the bread to be more substantial. I wish it was denser.

Mathew: The cinnamon sugar is kind of basic, not really that impressed.

Nicole: It's saltier than expected. I love that the bread is super light and satisfyingly thick.

Jeff: The amount of butter really makes this awesome. I used to make cinnamon toast a lot as a kid, so this brings back good memories. They did it right.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Final rating for Trouble Coffee: 3.4

Mere steps away is Outerlands (4001 Judah Street), an Outer Sunset establishment some San Franciscans will wait literal hours for.

Patrons standing on chairs to take photos of their naturally lit food is a common occurrence here.
outerlandssf.com

Patrons standing on chairs to take photos of their naturally lit food is a common occurrence here.

One of these frequently photographed dishes is no doubt the acclaimed almond butter toast ($7) topped with seasonal fruits and ginger.

Mathew: This is more of what I expect when I'm looking for fancy toast. I absolutely love the microgreens on top!Jeff: Not a big fan of just piling ingredients on top of things but I liked the almond butter and the flavor profile. Really did not expect to like this, but here we are.Jess: I've never had salad on top of toast before, but that's cool.Nicole: It's art. I like that you need a fork and knife to eat it. That makes it infinitely fancier.
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Mathew: This is more of what I expect when I'm looking for fancy toast. I absolutely love the microgreens on top!

Jeff: Not a big fan of just piling ingredients on top of things but I liked the almond butter and the flavor profile. Really did not expect to like this, but here we are.

Jess: I've never had salad on top of toast before, but that's cool.

Nicole: It's art. I like that you need a fork and knife to eat it. That makes it infinitely fancier.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Outerlands also serves up some good ol'-fashioned "toast with butter."

Jeff: I really enjoyed the butter more than the toast. If you pay this much for toast, it should shine more.
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Jeff: I really enjoyed the butter more than the toast. If you pay this much for toast, it should shine more.

Final rating for Outerlands: 4

By now, we all felt mildly ill and would rather die than consume more gluten. But we had to head to the most famous toast shop of them all: The Mill (736 Divisadero), located near Alamo Square.

The Mill sells $4 toast, which has made it a plumb target of online and colloquial ridicule.
themillsf.com

The Mill sells $4 toast, which has made it a plumb target of online and colloquial ridicule.

We decided to test-eat every toast on the menu, both because we had to, and because it feels super baller to say, "Give me one of everything."

Jess Misener

We started with this cream cheese-slathered concoction.

Jess: When I taste the cream cheese, my brain is going, 'oh yay, I'm getting bagel' and then it's sadly just bread.Jeff: I like this one. It feels hearty, like a lumberjack. Rye is a bread that I don't usually reach for first because I don't like the texture. But this was very bagel-like and I love bagels.
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Jess: When I taste the cream cheese, my brain is going, 'oh yay, I'm getting bagel' and then it's sadly just bread.

Jeff: I like this one. It feels hearty, like a lumberjack. Rye is a bread that I don't usually reach for first because I don't like the texture. But this was very bagel-like and I love bagels.

Next up was the sesame-poppy bread covered with blood orange marmalade.

Nicole: It needs more jelly.Mathew: I think the seeds really make it. I'm actually digging this one.
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Nicole: It needs more jelly.

Mathew: I think the seeds really make it. I'm actually digging this one.

Next, we tried the cornmeal rosemary bread with butter and honey.

Mathew: This is probably the best toast I've ever had. Wow.Jeff: I HATE rosemary, but I love this bread. Seriously, rosemary in everything I’ve eaten before just ruins the dish. But this is something else. I might actually like it now.
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Mathew: This is probably the best toast I've ever had. Wow.

Jeff: I HATE rosemary, but I love this bread. Seriously, rosemary in everything I’ve eaten before just ruins the dish. But this is something else. I might actually like it now.

And lastly, the cinnamon and sugar toast.

Nicole: It's a little too sticky and sweet.Jeff: I like the Trouble Coffee one better. There's too much sugar on top, and I feel like the toast could’ve been lighter and fluffier.
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Nicole: It's a little too sticky and sweet.

Jeff: I like the Trouble Coffee one better. There's too much sugar on top, and I feel like the toast could’ve been lighter and fluffier.

Final rating for The Mill: 3

In case you're wondering what happens to your body when you consume nothing but bread all day, the answer is: you want to take a MASSIVE NAP.

But we had to press on. THE TOAST TRAIN STOPS FOR NO ONE.
Gpointstudio / Getty Images

But we had to press on. THE TOAST TRAIN STOPS FOR NO ONE.

What could top the Taj Mahal of Toast Places? We decided to head to the opposite side of the city and check out Frog Hollow Farm at the Ferry Building, famous for its avocado toast.

At $6.99 for a half order and $10.99 for a full, this toast will put an avocado-sized hole in your wallet.

Jeff: Really nice. Better than expected. Their presentation is pretty! I was worried the bread was going to be real rough and carve up my mouth like how Captain Crunch does. But they nailed the bread, and they did sourdough right.Mathew: I love how it's so simple, so that the exceptional ingredients can really shine. Even the olive oil, like it just tastes like it's expensive.Nicole: Perfectly salted. Just want to note that I have never felt so full, and still am going to take another bite because it is that damn good.Jess: I LOVE IT.
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Jeff: Really nice. Better than expected. Their presentation is pretty! I was worried the bread was going to be real rough and carve up my mouth like how Captain Crunch does. But they nailed the bread, and they did sourdough right.

Mathew: I love how it's so simple, so that the exceptional ingredients can really shine. Even the olive oil, like it just tastes like it's expensive.

Nicole: Perfectly salted. Just want to note that I have never felt so full, and still am going to take another bite because it is that damn good.

Jess: I LOVE IT.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Final rating for Frog Hollow: 4 (but would've been a 5, if it were cheaper!)

Straggling and fatigued by our bread binge, we then crawled our way to the Blue Bottle Coffee at Mint Plaza (66 Mint Street), which recently debuted a breakfast and lunch menu including — YOU GUESSED IT — toast.

We took the thick cut Firebrand toast with two poached eggs ($8) to-go, because we were too ashamed to eat yet another toast in public.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Jeff: Awesome breakfast food. Eggs were poached perfectly. I don't think it would be a whole meal for most people, but if you don't like having a big breakfast, I would recommend this.

Nicole: I LOVE EGGS SO MUCH. THIS IS SO YUM. The bread is super dense, it's more like challah.

Mathew: I'm not buying it. The egg was delish, but the toast didn't really do it for me.

Jess: Fucking toast. I'm so over toast. I just can't.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Final Rating for Blue Bottle: 4

For our Last Carb Stand, we headed to Mazarine Coffee (720 Market), which looks exactly like what you'd think a coffee shop that sells artisanal toast looks like.

Our first toast, the avocado with goat cheese, radish, and chives, was a GODDAMN WORK OF ART.

Jeff: It tastes as good as it looks. The radish adds a nice crunch and a bright bite to the flavor.Nicole: It's super hearty, but honestly, I don't think it's as good as Frog Hollow's avocado toast.Mathew: This toast... I mean, it's stunning and so damn good. The flavors and textures work so well together.Jess: The presentation is gorgeous, and I love the mix of flavors. A vegetarian delight!
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Jeff: It tastes as good as it looks. The radish adds a nice crunch and a bright bite to the flavor.

Nicole: It's super hearty, but honestly, I don't think it's as good as Frog Hollow's avocado toast.

Mathew: This toast... I mean, it's stunning and so damn good. The flavors and textures work so well together.

Jess: The presentation is gorgeous, and I love the mix of flavors. A vegetarian delight!

Next, we tried the fig jam and ricotta honey toast.

Mathew: Too sweet.Nicole: OMG, I could imagine myself eating this every morning. Good texture, and the fig jam isn't too sugary.Jeff: It's so dessert-y. The flavor just isn't there. Too sweet.Jess: It's good, but yeah, this seems more like dessert than a heart breakfast. I would definitely have a mid-morning carb crash.
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Mathew: Too sweet.

Nicole: OMG, I could imagine myself eating this every morning. Good texture, and the fig jam isn't too sugary.

Jeff: It's so dessert-y. The flavor just isn't there. Too sweet.

Jess: It's good, but yeah, this seems more like dessert than a heart breakfast. I would definitely have a mid-morning carb crash.

The pear and bleu cheese toast with walnuts was definitely more like a sandwich.

Jess: I really hate blue cheese, so naturally I am feeling antagonistic towards this thing. But I have to say, the other ingredients are superb and help me forget that I'm eating ACTUAL MOLD.
Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Jess: I really hate blue cheese, so naturally I am feeling antagonistic towards this thing. But I have to say, the other ingredients are superb and help me forget that I'm eating ACTUAL MOLD.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Mathew: I like the combo, I get what they were going for, but it needs more pear. Right now the toast feels a little unbalanced.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

Jeff: This toast has no meat on it, but I swear I was getting a smokey ham flavor from it. You can see my concerned reaction above. It's worth trying once to be confused by it. ONLY ONCE.

Final rating for Mazarine: 2

Though complex carbohydrates were radiating from our every pore and our energy levels had been ravaged by various artisanal sugar molecules, WE SURVIVED THE GREAT SAN FRANCISCO TOAST CRAWL.

Jeff Barron / BuzzFeed

So.... is fancy toast worth the money?

giphy.com

No. Well, maybe. It's definitely a trend, and thus a novelty item. Do New Yorkers go to Junior's for cheesecake all the time? No, but they might go when they have family in town, or just want to do something ironic but still tasty. Such is the value of artisanal toast: IF you can afford to shell out for tweely-topped bread, it's a nice treat every once in awhile.

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