The cable cars are a wonderful institution, absolutely indivisible from San Francisco and I would lay down in front of one if ever there were plans to remove them, but let's face it, dining options by the cable car lines are like following a rainbow to the end and finding a big bowl of crap where the gold should be.
Gladly, there is now an exception to this rule in Terminus, the café/bar at 10 California Street, diagonally across from the terminus of the cable car line -- but the name is also a play on a long-gone French absinthe. It's the newest venture from Dennis Leary, whose downtown empire also includes House of Shields and the Sentinel, and it's open a whopping 19 hours a day, longer than the most driven hedge-funder's weekday schedule.
While the menu rotates daily, breakfast emphasizes pastry and goodies such as the light, eggy bread pudding, and lunch is sandwich-heavy. The pork shoulder (with ham, cheese, pickles, and spicy mustard on two slices of Leary's own white bread, glazed to perfection with an egg wash) was pretty much un-improvable, just fatty and juicy enough to keep from falling apart.
Judging a place on its beer taps is like evaluating a date based on their car's hood ornament, but know that Tricerahops Double IPA and Goose Island Matilda are available. If you want a drink with lunch, though, you'll have to eat a mid-morning yogurt or something because the taps (and that appealing shelf of single-malt Scotch) are forbidden until 2 p.m.
Mirrored and hung with globe lights, Terminus is predominantly black-and-white without being stark. At the moment, it wants for tables (or any exterior sign, for that matter), but there are about 15 stools. Nearly everyone who walks in sees the lack of furniture, pauses and asks, "Are you open?" Yes, it is, softly, and even in this phase, it's worth it.
Terminus, 10 California St.