You know the old saying: “It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive”? Well, that’s literally true when you’re dining out in San Francisco and relying on taxi service. Forget about the cab being on time, most of the time you just hope it shows up at all.

My husband and I MUNI’d for a few years, but door-to-door, the travel time was sometimes over an hour when the restaurant was only ten minutes away by car. We have our own car, but parking is a nightmare in some neighborhoods and we enjoy wine with dinner. There are enough drunk drivers careering around the streets of San Francisco, we don’t need to add to them.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but when you call a cab company and they tell you they’re sending a cab your way, you’ve entered into an agreement. They’ve agreed to send you something, and you’ve agreed to wait. And wait. And wait. AND WAIT!

It’s gotten so bad that after we call a cab, we now look at the clock and estimate how long we’ll wait before we try to hail one off the street or call another company.

For us, the worst cab offenders have been Luxor and Yellow Cab. They’re both equally horrible, and by the time we finally weaned ourselves off of both companies, we had lost count how many times we had called for cabs that never showed up. We lost count of how many times we paced around the sidewalk outside our building, straining through the dark to find the muted light on top of a car roof. We lost count of how many times we called the cab company back to ask where the HELL our promised cab was only to be met with a busy signal over and over and over and OVER again!

We’ve also lost count of how many times we’ve had to call sympathetic hosts and hostesses and push our reservation by 15, 40, 60 minutes. Another time, we weren’t so lucky and we lost our reservation and our dinner. We had Luxor to thank for completely ruining a night out we had been anticipating for weeks.

Of course now, some restaurants have even started instituting a grace period. If you don’t show up, say, within 15 minutes of your original reservation time, you risk losing the reservation entirely. I don’t blame the restaurants for this policy, because just like ordering a cab, a reservation is an agreement. A contract. A promise to show up when you said you would show up.

Why don’t the cab companies understand this?

Luxor Cab Ruined My Dinner 17 March,2008Stephanie Lucianovic

  • Anonymous

    You should give City Wide a try. Best cab company in SF. They show up FAST and have great drivers. They’re the ONLY cab company I will use after years of putting up with Luxor and Yellow. (415) 920.0700

  • Anonymous

    I agree 100% about Citywide Dispatch. They answer promptly – a real person – you are not put on hold for all eternity – and they are funny, friendly and polite. While you never know which cab company will show up I have never waited longer than 15 minutes for a cab and usually less – and this is in the cab forsaken Sunset district.
    The last time I called Yellow I was on hold for 40 minutes before the dispatcher came on. Over the next two hours I had to call back 3 times (and on hold each time) only to have the dispatcher say either the cab came and I wasn’t there when in fact I was standing outside the whole time or he’ll call you in a few minutes he’s just a few blocks away – which never happened. Almost three hours to get a cab – taking Muni would probably only have taken 2 hours.

  • Anonymous

    What about pre-arranging a cab the day before, or on the morning of the day you plan to go out for dinner? I do that every time I’m planning a trip to the airport. I like Green Cab because they drive Priuses.

  • jen maiser

    Last time I called Yellow Cab and asked them how long it would take the guy said, “your guess is as good as mine” !!! I would not have a job with that attitude.

  • Sam

    I have too many bad stories I could share about ALL cab companies. Did you know Luxor do advanced time calls and they *seem* to work better. When the cab doesn’t show is the only time me and him argue.

    I am going to check out the green one though – I havent tried them yet.

    thanks for the comment suggestions!

  • Michael Procopio

    The last time I called a Yellow cab, I asked the dispatcher about how long it would be. His reply? “About twelve feet long and yellow.”

    I wonder how many times he’d used that one before?

  • Cam

    The City needs to stand up to the Taxi Union and implement one phone number to call or add more taxi medallions. Taxis are, after all, considered public transportation, yet the City has yet to do anything about it. What happened to our “progressive politics”. Hell, If NY and many other large cities can get it correct, then SF certainly should.


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for,, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

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