corner
×

About Legacy Bars and Restaurants

For generations, San Francisco has been home to a thriving landscape of neighborhood businesses that occupy an essential role in the stories and rituals that define the city. These bars, restaurants, cafés, and other places have attracted locals and visitors alike for a taste of the city’s unique character and sense of community.

“Legacy Bars and Restaurants” is Heritage’s groundbreaking educational initiative that invites users to experience the history of some of San Francisco’s most legendary eateries, watering holes, dives, and haunts. This online guide is the first of its kind to celebrate iconic establishments that contribute to the culture, character, and lore of San Francisco. Recent threats to local institutions like the Tonga Room, Tosca Café, and Gold Dust Lounge underscore the need to develop new strategies for protecting places with intangible cultural significance. “Legacy Bars and Restaurants” documents the city’s vast culinary heritage and promotes businesses that do not necessarily qualify for formal historic designation.

Heritage has inducted 100 restaurants and bars into the initiative during the first three rounds, with over 140 establishments eligible to be added over time. Located throughout San Francisco, these businesses have achieved longevity of 40 years or more, possess distinctive architecture or interior design, and/or contribute to a sense of history in the surrounding neighborhood.

For questions about the “Legacy” project, please email rcohn@sfheritage.org. Know of a business that hasn’t been included yet, but should be? Let us know!

Thank you to San Francisco’s Cyrus Noble Bourbon Whiskey for its generous support of “Legacy Bars & Restaurants”! Born in Kentucky and raised in San Francisco, Cyrus Noble debuted to popular acclaim in 1871 amid San Francisco’s booming Gold Rush and Barbary Coast eras. This historic bourbon and its revival to national prominence is a testament to the “spirit of possibility” forged in the great American West.

corner
×

Comstock Saloon

corner
×

The Ramp

Located in the heart of the industrial waterfront, The Ramp has grown from a bait shop to a beloved neighborhood joint and Hollywood backdrop in its more than 60 years of operation. Jim and Donna Elkin, the original owners, sold bait from a stand yards from the bay, serving primarily small boat fishermen. Eventually, they added hot dogs and other concessions to their shop, including a bar in the 1950s.

In addition to the growing business, the Elkins owned the adjacent boatyard, then known as Smith Rice Marine Maritime Construction. The growing business earned its name from the quiet, yet well-traveled spot from where fishermen would launch their boats.

In 1984, Michael Denman, who previously worked at The Ramp, began leasing the business and the boatyard. He added a kitchen to the bar and renamed the yard “San Francisco Boatworks,” which is now the longest operating boatyard in the city. Today, Denman owns the establishment, along with Marvin Patel. General Manager Joan Robins, who has been at the heart of The Ramp since 1987, has been responsible for maintaining this “hidden oasis,” preserving its industrial heritage while appealing to newcomers.

Affectionately known as a hangover joint, the restaurant serves one of the stiffest Bloody Marys in San Francisco, a secret recipe that is a permanent fixture on the menu, whereas other items on circulate. Each summer, crowds descend on the Central Basin to enjoy weekend salsa parties at The Ramp and views of the surrounding bay. Though the neighborhood is evolving, The Ramp continues to anchor the city’s southern waterfront and maintains an active involvement in the local merchants association and other community events.

Showcasing its original interior furnishings and décor, the establishment retains its appeal to locals, creating an extended family of dedicated regulars and staff. Beyond its devoted following closer to home, The Ramp has earned its pop culture credentials through various on-screen moments. Earlier in its history, the restaurant was featured in the popular television shows Miami Vice and Streets of San Francisco. More recently, it was the backdrop to a scene in Woody Allen’s 2013 film, Blue Jasmine, leading moviegoers from around the world to flock to The Ramp for a glimpse of San Francisco film history.
Location Image Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Collage courtesy of The Ramp.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of The Ramp.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of The Ramp.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of The Ramp.
Location Image Undated photo of Tiki statue courtesy of The Ramp.
Location Image Article from "The Potrero View," June 1989. Courtesy of The Ramp.
Location Image Article from "The Potrero View," November 1989. Courtesy of The Ramp.
Location Image Article from "Image," 1989. Courtesy of The Ramp.
Location Image Courtesy of The Ramp.
corner
×

Gold Mirror Restaurant

Originally located in the Fillmore in the 1940s, the Gold Mirror began as a cocktail lounge immersed in the local jazz scene. In the 1950s it moved to its current location at 18th Avenue and Taraval Street in the Parkside neighborhood. Chef Giuseppe Di Grande bought the Gold Mirror in 1969 and transformed it into a family-style Italian restaurant with traditional recipes and ambience. His sons Domenico and Roberto Di Grande eventually joined the business, carrying on their father’s traditions in the kitchen while making “the best homemade Tiramisu in town.”

The dining room at the Gold Mirror is set against the backdrop of a medieval castle, with classic Italian music filling the air and warmth from the candle lights. Original signs, doors, and mirrors still inhabit the Gold Mirror from an earlier era.

On April 19, 2004 the restaurant was struck by a runaway truck. Though a shocking event, the accident led to an unusual discovery. As the restaurant was reconstructed, workers uncovered several paintings behind the bar mirrors. Suggestive of 1940s décor and depicting two golden-haired women holding mirrors, the paintings revealed the story behind the business’s illusive name. Having been protected behind the mirror for decades, the paintings were in relatively good condition, and one now hangs in the restaurant as a testament to its past.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Gold Mirror on Fillmore, undated. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
corner
×

Cha Cha Cha/Original McCarthy’s

Today known for its New World Cuisine, the Mission District’s Cha Cha Cha first debuted in San Francisco as Original McCarthy’s. Though its exact origins are shrouded in lore, McCarthy’s operated as a “soda fountain” during Prohibition with a bevy of “refreshments” for thirsty patrons. Denis McCarthy, an Irish immigrant from County Cork, was among the first proprietors in San Francisco to legally pour alcohol after the repeal of Prohibition on December 5, 1933.

For generations, the bar was an epicenter of the neighborhood’s Irish community, known for serving stiff Irish coffees and Guinness Stout. As the make-up of the neighborhood evolved around it, the joint continued to have down-home appeal.

In 1997, Philip Bellber and Leon Pak purchased Original McCarthy’s with plans to convert it into a Cuban and Puerto Rican-inspired restaurant. One of the men’s wives was Irish, and she persuaded the duo to incorporate the bar’s Irish heritage into their new plans. As a result, Cha Cha Cha/Original McCarthy’s was born, blending the owners’ cultural traditions with the existing fabric. They retained, for example, the original horseshoe bar, which is reputed to be the longest bar on the West Coast, along with mirrors and light switches stationed by each table dating to the establishment’s early days. During McCarthy’s “soda fountain” incarnation, patrons sat in intimate booths concealed by curtains, a feature designed to protect their identities from enforcers of Prohibition. In order to catch the attention of the waiters, guests would turn on the light switch in their booths, illuminating the corresponding table number on a sign stationed near the bar. Mirrors were installed in each booth to make them appear larger.

In addition, photos of crowds at Original McCarthy’s grace the walls, reminding a new generation of patrons that they are partaking in a long tradition of merriment and community. Each year, the bar hosts a raucous St. Patrick’s Day celebration, a tradition that began in the early ‘30s.
Location Image Denis McCarthy (center) with staff, 1930s. Photo courtesy of Cha Cha Cha.
Location Image Denis McCarthy, with wife Catherine and daughter Josephine, in passport photo en route to Ireland for a recreational trip in 1924. Photo courtesy of Cha Cha Cha.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Cha Cha Cha.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Cha Cha Cha.
Location Image 49-ers spirit, c. 1982. Photo courtesy of Cha Cha Cha.
Location Image 49-ers spirit, c. 1982.Photo courtesy of Cha Cha Cha.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Cha Cha Cha.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfphotorama.com.
corner
×

The Fly Trap

Today located in the South of Market neighborhood, The Fly Trap dates back to 1883, when Chef Louis Besozzi first opened Louis’ Fashion Restaurant at Sutter and Market streets. An Italian immigrant, Besozzi had previously worked at San Francisco’s famous Poodle Dog Restaurant. At that time, the intersection at Sutter and Market was a well-known post for stationing teams of horses, and the air was filled with flies. To protect his customers, Besozzi (“Uncle Louis”) draped flypaper from the ceiling and placed it underneath the tables. Over time, patrons, particularly naval officers, began to refer to the establishment as “The Fly Trap.”

In 1899, Enrico Besozzi joined his brother in San Francisco and began working at the restaurant. Shortly before the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, Louis took ill and returned to Italy to recuperate. Dominico Tollini, the Besozzis’ nephew, joined the business just in time to aid in the recovery after the disaster. The family operated temporarily on Golden Gate Avenue (between Larkin and Polk streets).

In 1909, Enrico relocated the restaurant to 73 Sutter Street, where it was officially known as “The Fly Trap Restaurant.” Dominico purchased a second-hand Non-Paeril Platen Press, which he used to design and print the menus in the restaurant’s basement. Louis, never able to return to San Francisco, passed away in Italy in 1926. His obituary evoked the spirit of The Fly Trap, “where men of their millions and men trying to make their millions as wells as the bohemian element would gather.”

Over the next few decades, Enrico continued to run the kitchen and cultivate a following of regulars, passing away after a long day of work in 1947. Several years later, Dominico sold his beloved printing press to one of The Fly Trap’s patrons. The restaurant remained on Sutter Street until 1963, when its building was slated for demolition to make way for the new Wells Fargo tower. Skyrocketing rents prevented The Fly Trap from reopening in the Financial District, and it remained shuttered for nearly two decades.

In the early 1980s, retired businessman Walter Zolezzi reopened The Fly Trap in the former Planters Hotel, now a San Francisco Landmark, recreating much of the old menu and décor. The restaurant survived the Loma Prieta Earthquake, but the kitchen closed due to gas shutoff, though the bar continued to operate by candlelight.

In 1988, Walter hired an Iranian immigrant named Hossein Zaré as a line cook. Zaré, known as “Hoss” around the restaurant, worked his way up to the rank of Executive Chef, building a loyal following in his own right. After several other stints in the Bay Area, Chef Zaré returned to The Fly Trap in 2008 and became the restaurant’s sole proprietor. He remade the menu for the first time in over a century, infusing Mediterranean elements. Throughout its history, The Fly Trap has been known for culinary experimentation to complement its much-loved standards, a tradition that continues today.
Location Image The Fly Trap on Sutter Street, c. 1970s. Courtesy of The Fly Trap.
Location Image Matchbooks courtesy of The Fly Trap.
Location Image Matchbook courtesy of The Fly Trap.
Location Image Pages from the first book printed on the Non-Paeril Platen Press. Courtesy of The Fly Trap.
Location Image Courtesy of The Fly Trap.
Location Image Menu, c. 1949. Courtesy of The Fly Trap.
Location Image Menu, c. 1949. Courtesy of The Fly Trap.
Location Image 1950s guide to San Francisco Restaurants. Courtesy of The Fly Trap.
Location Image 1909 commemorative spoon. Courtesy of The Fly Trap.
corner
×

Red’s Place

Known by locals as the “Cheers” of Chinatown, Red’s Place opened its doors in the early 1960s in a spot that has long been home to family businesses. Historic photos reveal that the building housed a barber shop in the late 1800s, followed by a cigar store and saloon. Though neither the current owners nor patrons can shed light on the bar’s namesake, Red’s has maintained the building’s century-long role as a community gathering spot, billing itself as the oldest bar in Chinatown.

When the bar first opened, it was located just around the corner from the Chinese New Year parade route, which once travelled down Grant Street to Broadway. Following the parade, community members set off firecrackers in celebration on Jackson Street in front of Red’s, lighting 300,000 crackers at the parade’s peak. Red’s continues to take part in the annual festivities, including the firecracker show on Jackson.

In 1990, Herman and Lisa Chan purchased the bar, having previously owned a nearby bar on Broadway. They maintained the family spirit of the bar, with most of their customers living in the neighborhood and stopping by each day after work to swap stories and gossip. While certain aspects of the bar’s physical fabric have changed, the exterior remains unchanged, bearing close resemblance to a 1927 shot of the cigar store. The basement, though inaccessible to patrons, still houses teller booths, alluding to the building’s ties to underground gambling in generations past.

Herman and Lisa both passed away in 2010, and their son Jerry continues to own and operate Red’s as a testament to his parents’ hard work and openheartedness. Today, the bar is known for having one of the largest beer selections in Chinatown and for its Chinese whiskey.
Location Image Photo by SF a GoGo/Flickr.
Location Image Red's Place, c. 1973. Photo by Leland Wong/Red's Place.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by The Queen of Subtle/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Throgers/Flickr.
Location Image Matchbook courtesy of Red's Place.
corner
×

Casa Sanchez

Founded by Roberto and Isabel Sanchez in 1924, Casa Sanchez was the first mechanized tortilla factory in northern California. The Sanchez family came to San Francisco via Nayarit, located in the Mexican state of Zacatecas, and has since become a fixture in the local Latino community.

Originally located in the upper Fillmore District in a predominately Latino neighborhood, Casa Sanchez served tortillas by the pound and, eventually, by the hundreds. During the 1960s, the restaurant was known as “Club Sanchez” as it featured jazz musicians by night, contributing to the vibrant jazz scene that would come to characterize the Fillmore. The second generation of the Sanchez family relocated the business to the Mission District, following its Latino customer base and selling its corn tortillas to neighborhood restaurants.

During the 1980s, Casa Sanchez focused its efforts on selling tortilla chips and salsa during the “tortilla wars,” when tortilla companies rivaled each other for business at local taquerias. The tortilla wars were so contentious that delivery persons were said to carry guns. In the 1990s, the restaurant made headlines when it advertised free tattoos of its “Jimmy the Cornman” logo in exchange for “free lunch for life.” Inspired by one of the Sanchez grandchildren, the logo is now tattooed on at least 50 people.

Handed down from generation to generation, Casa Sanchez eventually grew into a wholesale Mexicatessen offering a variety of tortillas, chips, salsas, guacamole, and tamales throughout the region. In fact, Casa Sanchez sold the very first fresh salsa in the country. Pupusas, a uniquely Central American dish, were later added to the menu. This line of products developed by the third and fourth generations the Casa Sanchez family is now produced at the company headquarters in Millbrae. Current owners of the Casa Sanchez enterprise, siblings Bob and Marta Sanchez, recently inherited the business after their parents passed away.

While the Mexicatessan still manufactures its chips, salsas, tamales, and pupusas, the siblings were unable to continue operating a restaurant out of the Mission District location. They decided to lease the space to the Banuelos family, who has been in the restaurant business for over 40 years, and whose latest restaurant, La Posta, was evicted from its building due to neighborhood gentrification (the building was demolished to make way for new condominiums and retail spaces). After turning down a series of lucrative offers from high end restaurateurs and chefs, Marta Sanchez invited the Banuelos family to move into the space, join forces, and help to carry on the Casa Sanchez legacy.

Now known as Ayutla, the Banuelos’ new restaurant operates inside the old Casa Sanchez building, which still maintains the old “Casa Sanchez” sign.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Tortilla-making, c. 1920s. Photo courtesy of ehow.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Casa Sanchez.
Location Image Tortilla-making, c. 1956. Photo courtesy of Casa Sanchez.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Casa Sanchez.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Casa Sanchez.
Location Image Casa Sanchez on Fillmore Street, c. 1970. Courtesy of Casa Sanchez.
corner
×

The Doctor’s Lounge

The Excelsior neighborhood has been home to the Doctor’s Lounge since 1951, when Ernesto Martini opened his bar simply titled “?” but commonly known as The Question Mark Club. The curious club served patrons on Mission Street for thirty-seven years before it was taken over by Don and Ron, who renamed it DR’s. The acronym quickly became known as “The Doctor’s.”

A longtime provider of Thursday night dinners and Saturday morning brunch, the latest version of DR’s, now called “The Doctor’s Lounge” has continued the tradition of its predecessors. It remains a comfortable local hangout, while keeping current with pop-up chefs and a 49er bus that runs from the Lounge to the Stick on game days.
Location Image Photo by Jef Poskanzer/Flickr.
Location Image The DR's, undated photo courtesy of Yelp.
Location Image Photo by Robby Virus/Flickr.
corner
×

The Bus Stop

Representing four generations of family ownership, The Bus Stop has been in operation since the early 1900s. Witnessing over a century of San Francisco history, the establishment has survived numerous transitions and solidified its presence in the Marina. The Ferroni family purchased the building at 1901 Union Street, which was constructed in the late 1880s, and in 1900 opened the Aly Inn. Nearly two decades later, it became Smokey’s Saloon, selling cold beer chilled with ice chipped from real ice blocks for 5 cents.

In 1931, Amerigo Ferroni purchased the family business from his uncle and saw it through prohibition and the Great Depression. Amerigo changed the name to the Transport Club and the business thrived for three decades. When Amerigo fell ill in 1955, his wife, Rina, took on management responsibilities with pride and much success.

In 1960, their son, Gabriel (“Gabe”), began managing and tending the bar, and eventually assumed ownership. Gabe made a conscious decision to keep the bar’s original layout and features, but wanted to coin a new name for the business in an effort to identify it as his own. He settled on the “Bus Stop,” for the MUNI bus stop located on the corner of Union and Laguna Streets, three feet from the bar’s entrance. After realizing that an entire evening of work would only bring in $11, Gabe initiated some additional changes that would later result in new business. New décor, a new logo, polished brass, and premium cocktails with fresh-squeezed juices all added to the enhanced ambiance.

The 1980s brought further growth for the business, as sports bars became all the rage. As one of the first bars in San Francisco to embrace this concept, the Bus Stop quickly evolved into one of the city’s most popular sports bars. With a pool table, Ms. PacMan, 20 plasma televisions (each with their own satellite receive), the Bus Stop remains one of the best spots to catch a game. It’s fun and casual atmosphere has attracted clientele such as President Clinton, Mayor Willie Brown, Vida Blue, and Chipper Jones.
Location Image Photo courtesy of mistersf.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of eBay.
corner
×

Café Du Nord

Café Du Nord is located on Upper Market/Eureka Valley —also known as the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco—where the Swedish quarter of the city once thrived. Residing in the basement of the San Francisco Swedish Society, the bar is one of two music venues that occupy the same building, with the Swedish American Hall above.

The 1906 earthquake decimated the Swedish American Society’s original 1875 building near the Civic Center, but the headquarters was soon rebuilt by Swedish-born architect August Nordin in Eureka Valley. In addition to funds raised by the community, Nordin reportedly poured $50,000 from his Gold Rush fortune into the project, and the distinctive Swedish American Hall reopened on December 22, 1907.

Café Du Nord began its operations in the basement shortly after the debut of the Hall, and it remained open through Prohibition as a speakeasy. Eventually, live music was added to the line-up, and the underground venue earned acclaim for supporting local talent. Having prospered for over 100 years, the club has maintained its intimate mood of a speakeasy with rich, dark colors of red and black. Victorian accents can be found throughout the space, along with original wainscoting on the walls, the 40 foot copper-faced mahogany bar and checkered dance floor, alluding to rumors that it was once a brothel and place for secret societies to meet. In a cue to its past, Café Du Nord’s speakeasy escape tunnel is reportedly still accessible.

In early 2014, news broke that Café Du Nord’s lease had changed hands, and the venue closed for renovations. In addition to its live-music offerings, the revamped establishment will expand its kitchen and cocktail selection, reopening as a neighborhood bar that pays tribute to its long history.

Location Image Photo courtesy of dustinkeirstead.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of reachcarl.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of poortastemag.com.
Location Image Courtesy of Lost San Francisco.
Location Image Courtesy of Lost San Francisco.
Location Image Photo by Ritwick Dey/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of dustinkeirstead.blogspot.com.
corner
×

Bimbo’s 365 Club

The story of Bimbo’s begins with Agostino Giuntoli, who left Tuscany in 1922 at the age of 19. After five years of holding various jobs, he finally arrived in San Francisco with only $2.00 to his name. In 1931, Giuntoli opened the 365 Club on Market Street with his partner and previous boss, Monk Young. It was Young who nicknamed Giuntoli “Bimbo” (“boy” in Italian) because he had a hard time pronouncing his birth name.

From the beginning, the 365 Club was a runaway success, attracting a large audience on the West Coast and fast becoming a celebrity hotspot. A speakeasy and after-hours gambling club in its early days, it was one of the wildest establishments in San Francisco. Two cabaret shows were hosted per night, composed of a fine three-course meal with a showgirl performance. The club boasted a unique aesthetic, serving gin in coffee mugs and having an optical illusion known as ‘The Girl in the Fishbowl,’ where a woman, Dolphina, swam nude in the fish tank behind the bar.

By 1951 the Club had relocated to its current location at the base of Russian Hill. This home at 1025 Columbus Avenue is one of San Francisco’s oldest nightclub sites and was the previous outpost of Bal Tabarin, a club that opened the same year that 365 Club debuted on Market. Architect Timothy Pflueger was commissioned in the early 1930s to design the stage and bar at Bal Tabarin, giving rise to the iconic Art Deco interior. Giuntoli preserved Pflueger’s vision, and today much of the original design is still intact, including the terraced dining platforms, curved stage, dance floor, and original bar.

Following Giuntoli’s retirement in 1970, Bimbo’s closed for a period of 18 years, reopening in 1988 under the eye of Giuntoli’s grandson. Today, Bimbo’s remains a glamorous music venue and bar, a tribute to San Francisco’s flamboyant past.
Location Image Crowd at the bar at the original Bimbo's, 1938. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Delivery, 1950s. Courtesy of Bimbo's 365 Club.
Location Image Bimbo's on Columbus Street. Courtesy of Bimbo's 365 Club.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of eBay.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of eBay.
Location Image Photo courtesy of parishotelboutique.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Bimbo's 365 Club.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Bimbo's 365 Club.
Location Image Performers relaxing backstage, 1943. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Undated photo of patrons and "The Girl in the Fishbowl." Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Courtesy of Bimbo's 365 Club.
Location Image Agostino Giuntoli and clarinetist Ted Lewis. Courtesy of Bimbo's 365 Club.
Location Image Bimbo's, 1963. courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Bimbo's stage show, undated. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Bimbo's stage show, undated. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Courtesy of Bimbo's 365 Club.
Location Image Courtesy of Bimbo's 365 Club.
Location Image Courtesy of Bimbo's 365 Club.
Location Image Matchbook courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Menu courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Menu courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Bar receipt, 1951. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Dice game chip, 1951. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Dice game chip, 1951. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
corner
×

Top of the Mark

A founder of the historic Central Pacific Railroad and member of California’s Big Four, New Jersey native Mark Hopkins chose to build his home on one of San Francisco’s highest points, Nob Hill, just north of Downtown. Along with his fellow Central Pacific founders Leland Stanford, Collis Porter Huntington, and Charles Crocker, the Big Four made Nob Hill into a posh destination in early San Francisco. Robert Louis Stevenson regarded the hill as “the Hill of Palaces [where] millionaires gathered together, vying with each other in display.”

Much like the rest of San Francisco, the splendor of Nob Hill was destroyed in the earthquake and fire of 1906. By 1910, engineer George D. Smith walked past the site and declared he would one day build a hotel there, on the corner of Mason and California Streets. The Mark Hopkins Hotel quickly became a social center of post-earthquake San Francisco, and the lavish hotel flourished with shows, banquets, and balls through the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. Smith created a San Francisco institution when he converted the eleven-room penthouse on the 19th floor of the hotel into a cocktail lounge walled only by glass and unparalleled views of the city of San Francisco. Designed by architect Timothy Pfluefer, the penthouse became known as the Top of the Mark. Though Smith was unsure of patrons' patience to ride an elevator nineteen floors for a drink, the lounge was an immediate hit upon its opening on May 11, 1939. Just in time for the Golden Gate International Exhibition, the Top of the Mark became a must-see for locals and visitors alike. Henry Ford visited the Top of the Mark during this time and declared it his favorite place to watch the sun set over San Francisco.

During World War II, Top of the Mark became a popular spot for servicemen to enjoy their last night before shipping out into the Pacific Theater. Departing soldiers would buy and leave a bottle in the care of the bartender so that the next men from their squadron could enjoy a free drink; whoever had the last sip was responsible for buying the next bottle. According to tradition, servicement raised one last toast to the newly minted Golden Gate Bridge, believing it to be good luck. As an ideal spot for sweethearts to watch the ships depart, the northwest corner of the restaurant became known as “weeper’s corner.”

After the War, the Mark Hopkins played host to scores of celebrities, politicians, dignitaries, and stars. In 1962, original owner Smith sold the hotel to Louis Lurie and over the next five decades the hotel underwent several bouts of restoration and renovation. The 1996 redesign of the Top of the Mark brought about significant changes. The once-central bar had been relocated to a corner of the room to accommodate a mahogany dance floor and comfortable seating. Sculptured alabaster and metal chandeliers, beveled mirrors and Italian wood banisters retain the original character of San Francisco’s truly legendary Top of the Mark.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of eBay.
Location Image View of the lounge, 1940. Courtesy of eBay.
Location Image View of the lounge, 1948. Courtesy of eBay.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of antibride.com.
Location Image Top of the Mark, c. 1965. Courtesy of sanfrancisco.grubstreet.com.
Location Image Napkin and coaster. Courtesy of eBay.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
corner
×

Northstar Café

A North Beach institution situated on the corner of Powell and Green Streets, The Northstar Café has been popular among locals and tourists alike since its inception in 1882. Serving as a speakeasy during the Prohibition years, the following decades saw Northstar run by native brothers Walter and Edgar Lagomarsino as a lively restaurant and local hub for union bosses, politicians, newspapermen, firemen, and cops alike. It was later acquired by the Tomei Brothers, and The Northstar once again regained its status as a neighborhood saloon.

In keeping with tradition, the watering hole became notorious for its anything-can-happen atmosphere. The Northstar Café again changed owners in 1992, and its present incarnation perpetuates Northstar’s history as a comfortable neighborhood bar with a lively character, including such eccentricities a customer-of-the month award and a perpetual supply of free popcorn for its happy patrons.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sanfranciscorestaurants.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfweekly.
Location Image Photo courtesy of foursquare.com.
corner
×

Mr. Bing’s

Described by patrons young and old as nothing other than “divey”, the origins of Mr. Bing's are shrouded in mystery, with the tiki-inspired décor, the once-elegant sign illuminated outside, and the large boomerang-shaped bar pointing to its mid-century roots. Located in the inscrutable intersection of North Beach and Chinatown, Mr. Bing’s dive status is no doubt enhanced by its front-row view of Columbus and Broadway Streets. Mr. Bing’s received a popularity boost in 2011 when notorious gastro-traveller Anthony Bourdain made a stop at the bar for his program "The Layover," yet Mr. Bing’s has continued to satisfy patrons with inexpensive drinks, black-and-white movies on a loop on the bar’s TV, and a game or two of Liar’s Dice with the shrewd bartenders.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Yelp.
Location Image Photo by The Justified Sinner/Flickr.
Location Image The Letdowns at Mr. Bing's, 1995. Courtesy of theletdowns.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Yelp.
corner
×

Mauna Loa

Anchored in San Francisco’s Marina District, the Mauna Loa first opened in 1939, just around the corner from its current location. Johnny and Marie Martin, a couple of Portuguese descent, moved from Maui to San Francisco in 1936 and married soon after their arrival. After struggling to establish themselves financially, the Martins were advised to try their hand in the bar business, as Johnny was currently employed as a cook.

On October 5, 1939, the couple purchased a bar at 3165 Steiner Street, known at the time as the Silk Hat Inn, for $10. They were drawn to the neighborhood due to its proximity to the water. Under the terms of their agreement with the original owner, the Martins operated the bar under the same name for the first ten years. In 1949, they changed the name to Mauna Loa, likely a tribute to the Hawaiian volcano, which had been particularly active the year they moved to San Francisco. The following year, the bar relocated to its current location at 3009 Fillmore Street, and the Martins moved into the apartment on the second floor. They operated the bar with simple values, offering basic comforts to all of their customers, at times even loaning money to those down on their luck.

Throughout its history, the Mauna Loa has been primarily a blue-collar bar. Its proximity to the Norway House, which operated on Union Street in the 1950s, meant that many of its clientele were Norwegian immigrants, but the bar also served local merchant marines, sailors, and other waterfront workers, as well as military personnel from the Presidio.

Today, the Mauna Loa continues to serve mostly neighborhood residents and workers, functioning as a “working man’s bar" in a trend-setting environment. The physical fabric of the Mauna Loa has remained largely unchanged over three generations of family ownership. The original bar is still in place, and certain elements of the décor reflect the Martin’s Hawaiian roots. The eclectic atmosphere is enhanced by the Henri Toulouse Letrec-inspired carvings.

In the 1980s, the bar assumed a game-oriented feel, with the addition of pool tables and a pop-a-shot set-up. The Mauna Loa continues to be operated by the Martin family. Johnny and Marie’s children, John and Diana, became partners in the business after their parents retired, and John’s son Curtis has overseen the bar since the 1980s.
Location Image Johnny and Marie Martin, undated. Courtesy of Curtis Martin.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Curtis Martin.
Location Image Johnny Martin, undated. Courtesy of Curtis Martin.
Location Image Marie Martin, undated. Courtesy of Curtis Martin.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Curtis Martin.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Curtis Martin.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Curtis Martin.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Curtis Martin.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Curtis Martin.
Location Image The Martin family, undated. Courtesy of Curtis Martin.
Location Image Herb Caen column, 1950. Courtesy of Curtis Martin.
corner
×

Le Central

Le Central—most recognizable for its exterior red ‘tabac’ sign and its name emblazoned in classic red neon cursive—has an aesthetic and ambience reminiscent of post-war France. Occupying a brick building in the city’s Financial District, the restaurant provides a true brasserie experience and is recognized as the oldest French bistro in San Francisco. The brass bar-top, imported from France, was specially shipped to the city across the Atlantic. Plat du Jour menus are handwritten on chalkboards listing the day’s traditional French offerings. Such popular items include steak frites (steak and French fries), onion soup, soup gratinée, escargot, rack of lamb persillé and cassoulet (slow cooked meat casserole with pork, sausage and duck confit). A true feat, Le Central celebrates its cassoulet dish, which has been cooking for over 14,000 days. The secret to its success is the ritual of simmering the remains of the day’s stew with fresh ingredients.

Le Central has been open to the public since 1974. It is family owned and operated by two brothers, Pierre and Claude Cappelle, who began as wine merchants and expanded their venture into the French restaurant we know today. By 1993, ownership was in the hands of Johnny and Paul Tanphanich, who started as executive chefs at Le Central in the 1980s. A famous cast of characters has been spotted at the bar, including Wilkes Bashford and Herb Caen, who played dice there on a weekly basis. Le Central is a San Francisco icon due to its exquisite menu and prime location, creating a cozy place for travelers, politicians, locals, literati, and celebrities to meet over great food and drink.
Location Image Photo by Curtis Cronn/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of hg2sanfrancisco.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of itsaprislife.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of warrpcpn.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Illustration courtesy of weblogtheworld.com.
corner
×

La Rocca’s Corner

La Rocca’s Corner is a mostly-locals sports bar with a past rooted in San Francisco’s baseball legends. Located in North Beach near Fisherman’s Wharf at the corner of Columbus and Taylor streets, La Rocca’s opened in 1934. As its owner, Leo La Rooca, once said, the watering hole is “a keystone North Beach drinking establishment with more than 80 years of hazy history.” With its proximity to the cable car line and legendary nightclubs like Bimbo’s 365, La Rocca’s has long been an after-hours stop for a range of famous characters, including baseball icon Joe DiMaggio. During the 1940s and 50s, local mobsters were known to frequent La Rocca’s, replaced by the city’s celebrities and powerbrokers in the 1960s.
Leo La Rocca, born to Italian immigrants in North Beach in 1913, belonged to a family of saloon-keepers. When not behind the bar, he and his sons enjoyed serenading customers with classic tunes. In 1995, La Rocca’s was purchased by its current owners Mike Roddy and Marty Coyne. La Rocca’s has an easy-going atmosphere that welcomes all.
Location Image Photo by Kersey83/Flickr.
Location Image Leo La Rocca, courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Photo by Emilong/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Jeremy Brooks/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Yelp.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Yelp.
corner
×

Horseshoe Tavern

Affectionately known as just “The Shoe,” Horseshoe Tavern was established in the Marina District on Fillmore and Chestnut in 1934. The original owner was a storied character, serving as a US Marine and a football player for an early team that would go on to become the San Francisco 49ers. Ramos set up shop in ’34, and gathered a popular following and a devoted local crowd.

Over the next several decades, Horseshoe Tavern also went by the names The Wrinkle Room or God’s Waiting Room, but always maintained its faithful regulars. Three such regulars, Robert Walker, Brenda Turner, and Stefan Wever, had known Ramos for years and had made him many offers to purchase the bar, which he always turned down. Finally after thirty-eight years serving as the bar’s owner and proprietor, Vic Ramos sold to the three enterprising patrons.

The new owners rechristened the bar Horseshoe Tavern, and added pool tables and a new jukebox to update the bar, though Horseshoe remains much as it was since its inception. Amidst a crowd of upscale bars and upscale people in the Marina District, Horseshoe Tavern persists as a classic San Francisco institution.
Location Image Photo courtesy of gogobot.com.
Location Image Coaster courtesy of foursquare.com.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Silver Crest Donut Shop

The neon sign outside the Silver Crest Donut Shop declares “WE NEVER CLOSE,” and any modern day-patron of the curious bar and bakery combination can agree. Proprietors George and Nina Giavris came to San Francisco from Greece in 1959 and purchased the shop in 1970. At the time, the building had already been standing for 75 years and had seen days as a gas station, a small supermarket, a coffee and donut shop, and finally, a donut shop, restaurant, and bar. Current regulars at the Silver Crest can, somewhat veritably, tell you how they used to ride their horses to the Silver Crest in the 1940’s.

But since the current incarnation of the restaurant, the owners will attest to the fact they have truly, never closed in their 44 years in business, not even during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Situated alongside Bayshore Boulevard and highway 101, Silver Crest used to sit at a main entry into San Francisco. Bayshore was once heavily trafficked with cars full of tourists, and though the neighborhood has since changed character, the Silver Crest Donut Shop remains as a testament to its past.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Bunky's Pickle/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by DCR Neverclever/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of divefood.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of divefood.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of divefood.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Sabella & La Torre

Standing as one of the few original Fisherman’s Wharf restaurants still in existence today, Sabella and La Torre’s was established in 1927 by Luciano Sabella and his son Antone. In the early 20th century, the Sabella family emigrated to San Francisco from a fishing town in Sicilly called Siacca and upon arrival immediately put their expertise to good use. Crab fishing outside the bay proved to be lucrative, and by 1927 they began to sell their fresh crabs and other seafoods to customers who would drive their cars right up curb. They operated under the name "A. Sabella’s" until World War II, when Antone sold the seafood stand to his two other brothers, Michael and Frank Sabella, and his two nephews, Tony and Louis La Torre.

The new owners rechristened the spot as Sabella and La Torre and slowly expanded the business into a full-service restaurant. There has been only one celebrity sighting since the restaurant’s inception; baseball Hall of Famer Ted Williams dined there with his grandchildren in 1993. Unlike their Fisherman’s Wharf counterparts, Sabella and La Torre does not have waterfront views or a large flashy sign, and as one of the Wharf’s oldest inhabitants, it has largely remained under the tourist and media radar.

The restaurant remains in the family to this day; Frank Sabella turns 102 this year, and the family has been always dedicated to quality seafood with generous service. They still serve many fisherman and longshoremen along with locals and families. The interiors, which can be described as “a well-used captain’s cabin,” have likely remained untouched in the restaurant’s long and storied history.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Sabella and La Torre.
Location Image Menu courtesy of eBay.
Location Image Matchbook courtesy of eBay.
Location Image Lucien Sabella, 1952. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Sam Alioto, a Sabella & La Torre salesman, giving Marilyn Cope her choice of crabs, 1953. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Sabella and La Torre.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of eBay.
Location Image Photo courtesy of themenupage.com.
corner
×

Hi Dive

Before it became known as Hi Dive, Boondocks—a lounge established in the 1930s on Pier 28—was a popular San Franciscan dive bar for most of the 20th century. Boondocks was known for its eclectic waterfront atmosphere and tasty, comfort-driven menu featuring items such as braised lamb shanks sold at $7.25 per dish or sautéed fresh snapper offered at the same price. Popular among sailors and dock workers, the joint was an indelible part of the bustling port.

In 1986, Jim Kennedy purchased the bar from owner Phil Marino. The $40 million Embarcadero beautification project in the 1990s, which was spurred by the removal of the freeway, erased 12 parking spaces from Boondocks, threatening its operations.

At roughly the same time, John Caine opened the nearby Cafe Mars on Brannan and Seventh streets (now called Mars Bar), serving affordable fare similar to the menu at Boondocks. John Caine and partners Pat McCune and Brett Klinke bought Boondocks in 2002 and reopened it as the Hi Dive two years after. Today, fish tacos with chipotle aioli and avocado top the menu, followed by the Niman Ranch beef burger and chicken Caesar salad.

To those who ask, owner Caine will regale visitors with the story of how he brought the Cosmopolitan from Cincinnati to San Francisco in the 1980s, although the most popular drink at the Hi Dive is a margarita made with fresh-squeezed lime juice. The bar’s location gives way to its success, nested between the Ferry Building and AT&T Park with a sought-after view of the Bay.
Location Image Undated photo of Boondocks, Heritage archive.
Location Image Undated photo of Boondocks, Heritage archive.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Roosevelt Tamale Parlor

Roosevelt Tamale Parlor first opened its doors in 1919, under the care of a local Dutch businessman who also owned a dry-cleaner and a theater in the neighborhood. As the story goes, he was either named Roosevelt himself or greatly admired the 16th President. Either way, Roosevelt Tamale Parlor quickly became an institution on 24th Street in the Mission District.

The restaurant was purchased in the 1950s by the Carrasco family, who promptly removed spaghetti and French bread from the menu and began serving traditional Jalisco-style fare and became famous for its namesake tamales. Operating under its trademark neon sign, the Tamale Parlor remained in the Carrasco family until 2005, when it was purchased by local restaurateurs Aaron Presbrey and Barry Moore. The Roosevelt maintains a tamale-centric menu, and the iconic neon sign remains as a tribute to the Parlor’s 95-year history. And, regardless of its origin story, a smiling cartoon likeness of TR himself still adorns the storefront to welcome hungry customers.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image View of Roosevelt's on right. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Photo by Thomas Hawk/Flickr.
corner
×

Henry’s Hunan Restaurant

Henry’s Hunan Restaurant, established in 1974, offers dishes authentic to the Hunan Province of China. Henry’s Hunan was originally opened by Henry and his wife Diana on Kearny Street in Chinatown. In 1978 Henry Chung’s Hunan Style Chinese Cookbook was published, and one year later "Time Magazine" recognized him as a legendary San Francisco chef. Today there are three other locations: Sansome Street, Natoma Street and Sacramento Street. The menu is extensive with over 50 times to choose from.

Henry, currently 96 years old, has lived a full life. Being raised in a literary Chinese family with his grandfather working as a prime educational leader of Hunan, it’s no surprise that Henry followed a career in diplomacy. His job brought him to the United Sates in 1948 with wife Diana. Political differences between the US and China prematurely ended his career and eventually led Henry and Diana to pursue entrepreneurship. Before opening Henry’s Hunan, they owned an ice-cream parlor, hamburger stand, and toy store, though none were as successful as their venture into traditional Chinese cuisine. By the time Nixon visited China to strengthen political ties in 1976, the Chung’s were well on their way. The restaurant has enjoyed much acclaim, including praise from The New Yorker, which proclaimed, "Hunan Restaurant is the best Chinese restaurant in the world.” Chung has also been designated by the World Association of Chefs Society as one of the Four Famous Chefs in the world.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of mostlyfotos.com.
Location Image Menu courtesy of runningfork.com.
Location Image Cookbook courtesy of eBay.
Location Image Cookbook courtesy of eBay.
corner
×

Tony Nik’s

North Beach’s Tony Nik’s Café was first known as Madame Nicco’s French Laundry, run by Angelina and Antonio ‘Tony’ Nicco from the 1920’s through the 30s. In 1933, following the repeal of Prohibition, Tony opened one of the first bars in North Beach, called Tony Nicco’s Café. In keeping with the rules of the time, the café served food in addition to alcohol. The Niccos remodeled the bar in 1949, adding an elegant canopy, checkerboard wooden wall tiles, and an interior mural painted by San Francisco artist Nadine Torrance.

After Tony retired in 1951 the bar was sold to Charles ‘Butch’ Lavagnion, a good friend of Tony’s, who changed the name to Tony Nik’s. Because the bar was no longer required to sell food, “café” was dropped as well. In 2000, Tony Nicco’s grandson became the new owner of the bar and continues to operate it today. The original, though slightly amended, neon sign (“Tony Nik’s Café”) remains illuminated and is one of the oldest signs in North Beach.
Location Image Photo by SSWJ/Flickr.
Location Image Undated photo of Tony Nicco. Courtesy of Tony Nik's.
Location Image Undated photo of Charles 'Butch' Lavagnino. Courtesy of Tony Nik's.
Location Image Interior photo courtesy of Tony Nik's.
corner
×

Elbo Room

The Elbo Room is located on Valencia Street between 17th Street and 18th Street in the Mission District. The building first housed a bar in 1935 and has since been home to a Spanish restaurant, a western bar, and one of the nation’s first lesbian dance clubs, Amelia’s. From the 1970s through the early 1990s, the Valencia corridor was home to numerous women-centric establishments, including the Old Wives Tale’s Bookstore, The Artemist, and the nearby San Francisco Women's Building. Amelia's, which opened its doors at 647 Valencia in 1978, quickly became an anchor in the Mission's lesbian community. The bar sponsored the first all-women's team in the Gay Softball League

By the early 1990s, the Mission's lesbian community had diversified and dispersed to such a degree that Amelia's no longer experienced the crowds of its earlier days. In 1991, the Elbo Room opened in the space. The bar is two-stories with the main bar on the first level and a second bar upstairs near the stage and dance floor. Since opening, the Elbo Room has offered a wide range of music nearly every night, and its dance floor is considered a right-of-passage for many locals. It continues to host live bands and DJs playing jazz, funk, soul, Afro-Cuban, hip-hop, rock, indie rock, or alternative music.

Each year during Pride weekend, the bar replaces its exterior sign with the old Amelia’s sign in honor of its past and the Valencia corridor’s historic ties to the LGBT community.
Location Image Photo by Leyink/Flickr.
Location Image Amelia's softball team, undated. Photo by Wendy Gershow/Bay Area Reporter.
Location Image Photo courtesy of uptownalmanac.com.
Location Image Poster courtesy of Pinterest.
corner
×

Ha-Ra Club

The Ha-Ra Club, located at Geary and Larkin streets, is a Tenderloin neighborhood anchor. Established on February 1, 1947, the Ha-Ra is a no-fuss dive bar. Pro-heavyweight boxer Ralph Figari and pro-wrestler Hank Hanastead first opened the joint, and Ralph’s son continues to own and operate it today. Boxing memorabilia on display reminds patrons of the bar’s origins. Legendary San Francisco bartender Carl, a fixture at Ha-Ra’s, will assure visitors that there are no fancy drinks to be had here. As Carl puts it, the Ha-Ra attracts a blend of regulars, rookies and wiseguys. As one would expect from this beloved dive, the Ha-Ra houses the essentials: liquor, a television, a jukebox, a pool table, and nothing more.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of sf.cityvoter.com
Location Image Photo courtesy of inflectionbylight.blogspot.com
Location Image Photo courtesy of inflectionbylight.blogspot.com
corner
×

Vesuvio Café

Vesuvio Café was founded in 1948 by Henri Lenoir as a bohemian gathering space. Due to its prime North Beach location across from City Lights Bookstore, the bar hosted and inspired numerous beatnik writers, including Jack Kerouac, Dylan Thomas, and Neal Cassady. Housed in a 1913 Renaissance Revival building, Vesuvio resides on the site of the former A. Cavalli & Co. Bookstore. The colorful mural that adorns the facade today was created by artist and café patron Shawn O’Shaughnessy. Though the neighborhood has evolved, Vesuvio remains as a tribute to the jazz, poetry, art, and culture of the Beat Generation in San Francisco. The bar prides itself on attracting a diverse range of customers: “artists, chess players, cab drivers, seamen, business people, European visitors, off-duty exotic dancers and bon vivants from all walks of life.” The alley between Vesuvio and City Lights was renamed "Jack Kerouac Alley" in 1988.
Location Image Undated photo from the Heritage archive.
Location Image Undated photo of Henri Lenoir, courtesy of cafeandre.com.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Vesuvio Café.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Vesuvio Café.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Vesuvio Café.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Vesuvio Café.
Location Image Photo courtesy of whoownsthepast.com.
Location Image Undated card courtesy of ebay.com.
Location Image Photo by CoDiFi/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by CoDiFi/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by CoDiFi/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by CoDiFi/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by CoDiFi/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by CoDiFi/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Trad’r Sam

Established in 1937, Trad’r Sam is an early example of Tiki design and culture in San Francisco. Though the Tiki movement reached its heyday around the country in the 60s, this interest in Polynesian culture first emerged in the 1930s in San Francisco as bartenders competed to concoct imaginative and exotic cocktails. This Outer Richmond watering hole stands out as one of the few remaining bamboo bars. Adding to the bar's kitchy charm are the different seating areas named after tropical islands, all of which are covered in rattan. Trad’r Sam continues to offer the same menu of tropical drinks as it did in 1937.
Location Image Photo by Rocor/Flickr.
Location Image Trad'r Sam, 1949. Photo courtesy of the Western Neighborhoods Project.
Location Image Matchbook courtesy of Trad'r Sam.
Location Image Courtesy of Trad'r Sam.
Location Image Menu courtesy of Trad'r Sam.
Location Image Napkin courtesy of Trad'r Sam.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Trad'r Sam.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Trad'r Sam.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Trad'r Sam.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Trad'r Sam.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Trad'r Sam.
corner
×

The Sausage Factory

Located in an 1884 Victorian building in the Castro, The Sausage Factory Restaurant opened in 1968. At the time that the building was constructed, the Castro was home to a bustling immigrant community, consisting largely of Irish, German, and Swedish families. An actual sausage factory occupied the site until the 1940s, inspiring the name of the restaurant that stands today. Remnants of the factory can still be seen in the back bar and banquet room, including the original meat racks and the massive black iron doors that enclosed the sausage smoke rooms. The Azzolino Family has owned and operated the Italian restaurant since 1972.
Location Image Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of dineries.com.
Location Image Courtesy of the Sausage Factory.
Location Image The Sausage Factory, 1983. Photo courtesy of the Max Kirkeberg Collection, San Francisco State University.
Location Image The Sausage Factory, 1983. Photo courtesy of the Max Kirkeberg Collection, San Francisco State University.
Location Image Photo by Sinterbear/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Duluoz Cats/Flickr.
corner
×

Sears Fine Food

Sears was founded in 1938 by Hilbur and Ben Sears. A former circus clown, Ben Sears was very well-known for his traditional Swedish pancakes, made from a recipe inherited from his wife’s family. Mrs. Quita Benner bought the restaurant from the Sears family in the early 1950s, but she maintained both the name and the menu. Benner added the “Cadillac Waiting room,” where the owners parked their two pink Cadillacs with their heaters and radios on to provide comfort for their guests. Benner’s son-in-law, Al Boyajian, convinced Mrs. Brenner to move the restaurant from the 500 block of Powell to its current location at 439 Powell Street. The restaurant shut down in 2003, but Lori’s Diner (a nearby establishment) purchased and renovated the property, opening the doors once more in 2004. Sears continues to serve its patented Swedish pancakes today.
Location Image Courtesy of Sears Fine Food.
Location Image Photo by davelandweb.com.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Sears Fine Food.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Sears Fine Food.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Sears Fine Food.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Sears Fine Food.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Sears Fine Food.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of Sears Fine Food.
corner
×

Perry’s

Perry Butler first opened his namesake restaurant on Union Street in 1969. Inspired by the energy of the neighborhood saloons in his former home of New York City's Upper East Side, the then-26-year-old advertising executive established a menu of classic American meals, including his now-famous Cobb Salad, steaks, and hamburgers. The restaurant's trademark blue and white checkered tablecloths, along with its hexagonal tiled floor and wood-paneled memorabilia clad walls, have created a cozy, yet sophisticated dining experience for San Franciscans for decades. In 2008, Perry's opened a second location on the Embarcadero, following the same model of all-American dishes and decor. The business remains in the Butler family, with Perry's son and daughter - Aldy and Margie - at the helm at the Embarcadero restaurant.
Location Image Courtesy of Perry's.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Perry's.
Location Image Perry Butler, undated. Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Perry Butler, 2009. Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
corner
×

Old Ship Saloon

The Old Ship Saloon was established in 1851 after the Arkansas, a three master ship, ran aground in the San Francisco bay. It was damaged in a storm when it hit Alcatraz Island and was later towed to the beach at the current location of Cove and Battery Streets. A British entrepreneur cut a hole into the ship’s hull and started the Old Ship Ale House. The Arkansas was one of many Gold Rush-era ships that were converted to other uses, ranging from saloons to jails. After expansion of the city landlocked the boat, builders dismantled the upper portion of the boat and built a brick hotel around the remnants. The ground floor bar on the ground remained and named the Old Ship Saloon, catering to the needs of sailors and longshoremen at the turn of the century. Among the bar's most notorious legends is that it once hosted a "shanghai" den, where unwitting sailors drank drug-spiked liquor by night, only to wake up at sea the next morning with no choice but to join the ship's crew. During World War II, rumor had it that a brothel was added to the top floor, popular among departing GIs. While some of the more colorful aspects of its character have changed, the renovated saloon has preserved the memory of the Arkansas and the spirit of San Francisco's Barbary Coast.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of seattlebars.org.
Location Image Photo courtesy of seattlebars.org.
Location Image Ephemera courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Brochure courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
corner
×

May’s Coffee Shop

In 1973, May Murata was hired to help manage a Japanese American coffee shop located in the Japan Center West Mall. The original café had opened in 1955, the same year the Japan Center was built, and offered a limited menu of Japanese food items. The business was renamed May’s Coffee Shop in 1985 and expanded its menu to include American and Hawaiian fast-food in addition to its quick and inexpensive Japanese fare. Now operated by May’s daughter Pearl, the restaurant offers a diverse selection of fast-food, ranging from spam musubi, teri burgers, and Japanese noodle soups, to hotdogs and hamburgers. One of the most popular items on the menu is tai yaki, a fish shaped waffle-based Japanese pastry made on site (it often comes with chocolate, red bean, or banana filling). Situated adjacent to an indoor pond water feature, May’s Coffee Shop is a brightly-colored indoor “sidewalk café” popular among locals and mall workers.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfjapantown.org.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sanfranciscodays.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of gogobot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of May's Coffee Shop.
Location Image Photo courtesy of May's Coffee Shop.
corner
×

Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Café

Originally a gentlemen’s card club in the early 20th century, a man by the name of Mario Crismani bought the building at the corner of Columbus and Union in 1971. Mario, his wife Liliana, and their two children emigrated from Trieste, Italy after Mario retired from the police force. Mario and Liliana officially opened Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Café in 1972, and it quickly became a cornerstone in North Beach’s, renowned for its fresh Italian eats and drinks. Although Mario’s no longer sells cigars, there are many fine beers on tap, along with wine, gourmet coffees, and sandwiches. The foccacia bread in the restaurant's famous sandwiches is baked across the square at Liguria Bakery, which dates to 1911. Unlike many cafés in North Beach, Mario’s has table-service, offering lively views of Washington Square Park. The interior of the café is decorated with family pictures and assorted pieces of Italian artwork.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Dalem/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Stevec77/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of northbeachshop.com.
corner
×

Liverpool Lil’s

Located at the corner of Lyon and Lombard, this old English style restaurant and public house serves up some of the best California comfort food in the city. The walls covered with photos of characters from the bar's past, Liverpool Lil’s evokes the feeling of a lively small town watering hole. The founder, Ralph Maher, traveled often to Liverpool and, as one story goes, fell in love with a barmaid, Lil, in one of the city's most popular pubs. Ralph hoped to bring Lil back to the United States to start a new life, but Lil declined his offer, unwilling to leave her family and friends along with the traditional pub life she had known in England. Ralph came back to the states and opened up Liverpool Lil’s in 1973, creating a pub modeled after the one Lil loved back home. Before Maher bought the bar, the building housed the Lyon's Den, a popular haunt for bikers and Vietnam War veterans, many of whom snuck out of the nearby Letterman Army Hospital in the Presidio. Today, it continues to serve classic drinks and pub fare to locals, who are drawn to the welcoming ambiance, where little has changed in the last forty years.

"
Location Image Photo by Archibald Jude/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Thomas Hawk/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of inetours.com.
Location Image Bartender Casey O'Neill, 2012. Photo by Erik Anderson/The New Fillmore.
Location Image Photo by Emmet Anderson/Flickr.
Location Image Matchbook courtesy of kookykitsch.com.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of anne-arnott.blogspot.com.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of dineries.com.
corner
×

Liguria Bakery

Known for its hearty foccacia bread, Liguria Bakery has been in the Soracco family for over 100 years. Ambrogio Soracco immigrated to San Francisco from Genoa just after the 1906 Earthquake and worked in an Italian bakery upon his arrival. In 1911, he opened Liguria Bakery at 1700 Stockton Street, where it continues to operate today. After a year, Ambrogio sent for his two brothers, Giuseppe and Giovanni, who joined him at the corner bakery. The brothers made bread, hardtack, panettone, and breadsticks for North Beach’s residents, consisting largely of immigrants from Liguria, Lucca, Calabria, and Sicily. Ambrogio passed away in 1938, leaving his wife Mary to tend to the shop during the latter years of the Great Depression. Mary hired new bakers to assist with operations, including the horse-and-wagon delivery service. Son George joined the business after graduating from high school and later brought his owns sons into the operation. Facing competition from other neighborhood bakeries, the family began to bake foccacia exclusively in the 1960s, offering a cornucopia of toppings on this delicious flatbread. The Soraccos have used the same family recipe since 1911, a recipe that has been handed down over generations orally, never transcribed. They continue use the original brick oven and rely on word-of-mouth to bring customers to their doors.
Location Image Photo by Donna Harshman.
Location Image Photo courtesy of gogobot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of umamimart.com.
Location Image Photo of Mary Sorracco courtesy of sfgate.com.
corner
×

John’s Grill

Dating to 1908, John's Grill remains an indelible part of San Francisco's living history. Featuring original period furnishings, the dark paneled walls of this downtown establishment are replete with old San Francisco memorabilia and portraits, reminding patrons of the city's rich past and the restaurant's layered history. John's Grill solidified its place in popular and literary culture when it appeared in Dashiell Hammett's noir masterpiece, "The Maltese Falcon." The restaurant proudly displays photographs of Hammett and Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet - stars of the celebrated film adaptation. While John's Grill is a popular tourist destination today, it was a haunt for politicians, newspaper barons, financiers, and private investigators for generations and continues to serve its time-honed fare to its dedicated "regulars."
Location Image Photo by Rocor/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Mark Coggins/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Andy Beal/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Yuichi Sakuraba/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Mr. Muggles/Flickr.
Location Image Maltese Falcoln, courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Photo by Rick/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Rick/Flickr.
Location Image Matchbook courtesy of ebay.com.
Location Image Photos courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Courtesy of Allen Browne.
corner
×

It’s Tops Coffee Shop

It's Tops Coffee Shop debuted in 1935 as a small, one-room diner dedicated to serving locals and travelers. Known for its hearty breakfasts and hamburgers cooked over a 1932 Wolf Griddle and Stove, the eatery went by the names "The Top Cafe" or "The Minute Man's." In 1946, the original owner sold the business to Vic Tomera, who expanded the space into the next-door driving school and added an ice cream fountain. With the arrival of its iconic neon sign, It's Tops Coffee Shop emerged as a full-service restaurant. Dick Chapman purchased the business in 1952, and his family continues to own and operate it today. A Korean War veteran, Chapman had served as a cook on a military ship. He installed orange vinyl booths and stools, along with tabletop jukeboxes, to enhance the original knotted pine walls.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfweekly.com.
Location Image Photo by Gerry Brague/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Gerry Brague/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Scoobyfoo/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of igougo.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of thehamblogger.com.
corner
×

Harrington’s Bar & Grill

Considered one of the last remaining traditional Irish pubs in the Financial District, Harrington’s Bar and Grill first opened its doors in 1935. Owner Henry Harrington, an immigrant barkeeper from County Cork, Ireland, catered to a wide variety of customers, including sea captains, steam ship executives, seafarers, laborers, produce workers, longshoremen, and printers. The clientele changed when the Embarcadero Center was constructed in the 1960s, but the family continued to serve up its renowned Irish fare. Today, the pub remains in the Harrington family under the guidance of Henry's grandson, Michael.
Location Image Photo by Rebecca_Kristeen/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfrestaurants.com.
Location Image Harrington's Bar & Grill, 1974. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
corner
×

Grubstake

Situated between Polk and Van Ness, Grubstake is a unique eatery that boasts of being the only restaurant in San Francisco that is operated out of a railway car. The car originally operated on the Berkeley-Oakland-San Francisco key rail line. In 1927, it was brought to rest in San Francisco after being sold at auction. The Orient Express, a traditional diner, made its home in the red and white car for several decades. In 1967, the owners of Grubstake restaurant, originally located at 142 Mason Street, moved into the charming railcar, which was later repainted. In 1995, it became the only restaurant in San Francisco to serve continental Portuguese food, adding a twist to the diner fare on the menu.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Grubstake.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Grubstake.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Grubstake.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Grubstake.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Grubstake.
Location Image Photo by Leo Reynolds/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Leo Reynolds/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by T-bet/Flickr.
corner
×

Great American Music Hall

Established in 1907 as Blanco’s, the building located at 859 O'Farrell Street was originally a restaurant and bordello. The building was the creation of a French architect and a politician named Chris Buckley, who wanted to construct an eye-catching structure after the 1906 earthquake. Burlesque performer Sally Rand, who spotlighted her famous "Fan Dancing" act at the establishment, referred to Blanco's as the “Music Box.” Closed during World War II, the business reopened as a jazz club. After a brief period as a gathering place for Moose Lodge, the building was condemned by building inspectors. A last minute save by a shorted-lived French restaurant named "Charles," however, spared the building. In 1972, the Great American Music Hall moved into the venue and since then has hosted artists ranging from Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan and Count Basie to Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead, Arcade Fire, and Patti Smith.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of avid.com.
Location Image Great American Music Hall, 1976. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.
corner
×

Garden Court

Originally serving as the grand carriage entrance for the Palace Hotel, the palm-filled Garden Court debuted in 1909 with the reopening of the hotel after the 1906 Earthquake. Known for its magnificent stained-glass atrium, elegant Austrian crystal chandeliers, and lush tropical flowers, the Garden Court has been one of San Francisco's most prestigious dining halls since its inception. The restaurant has hosted countless dignitaries and celebrities throughout its history; Woodrow Wilson, for example, gave a speech in the space in 1919 in support of the League of Nations and the Treaty of Versailles. The Garden Court and Palace Hotel were designated San Francisco Landmarks in 1969. Today, the Garden Court remains one of the few San Francisco restaurants to offer a full-service afternoon tea.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of ebay.com.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of ebay.com.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Garden Court, 1951. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Garden Court, 1961. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Garden Court, 1961. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Garden Court, 1962. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
corner
×

Café Flore

With its eclectic menu and abundance of comfortable outdoor seating, Café Flore has long been considered a culinary landmark in the Castro District. The building that Café Flore occupies dates back to the early 20th century when the Castro was then colloquially known as “Little Scandinavia” or “Fin Town” due to the large numbers of Nordic immigrants who called the district home. The plot of land that would eventually become Café Flore originally contained a Swedish bathhouse.

Constructed in 1932, the bathhouse was owned and operated by the Finnila family. A pharmacy was also opened in the section of the building that faced the corner of Market and Noe Streets. The designer of the building, Alfred Finnila, later contributed to the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, where he oversaw the iron and roadway installation. Finnila also built the famous Bridge Roundhouse restaurant.

In 1973, the pharmacy closed its doors, and Café Flore was established in the now vacant storefront. The Finnila family continued to run the bathhouse section of the building until 1986, when that section of the building was demolished. Café Flore has continued to thrive, serving countless locals and tourists each year. Given its proximity to the Castro, the establishment plays a prominent role in the local gay community. With its large glass windows facing Market Street, the business proudly declares its place as a well-known cruising and people-watching spot. In early 1990s, New Colonist stated that Cafe Flore "is a de facto nexus of gay life in this town."
Location Image Photo courtesy of Café Flore.
Location Image Café Flore, 1977. Photo by Mahmood Ghazi on Castro Biscuit.
Location Image Café Flore, 1985. Max Kirkeberg Collection, San Francisco State University.
Location Image Café Flore, 1985. Max Kirkeberg Collection, San Francisco State University.
Location Image Café Flore, 1985. Max Kirkeberg Collection, San Francisco State University.
Location Image Courtesy of Café Flore.
corner
×

Gangway Bar

Billing itself as one of the oldest gay bars in San Francisco, the Gangway opened its doors under a different, unknown name in the Tenderloin in 1910. Today's nautical-themed bar has had numerous monikers throughout its history, but the name "Gangway" originated in the 1960s. During this era, the watering hole became a gathering place for the local gay community, acting as a haven for those who had been marginalized and turned away from other businesses. According to some accounts, the Gangway belonged to the Tavern Guild, an association of gay bar owners and liquor wholesalers that was established in 1962 in response to police raids and harassment of gay bars. In the 1970s and 80s, the bar hosted numerous community events, including AIDS benefits, holiday parties, and auctions for the Gangway Guzzlers softball team (established 1986). During the 1980s, the Gangway produced an annual "Trim a Tree for Ward B" party in honor of San Francisco General's Ward B, the world's first hospital dedicated to AIDS treatment. The bar's interior pays tribute to the figures and social movements that have defined much of the Tenderloin's history, including civil rights rallies, early drag queens, and transgendered activism. Outside, the bar distinguishes itself with the massive recreation of a white ship bow (labeled "Titanic") that juts out over the entrance.
Location Image Photo by Chazwags/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Michela/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Thomas Hawk/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfbarexperiment.com.
corner
×

Fishermen’s Grotto

The story of Fishermen’s Grotto is not just the story of a single Italian fisherman’s dream of bringing fresh catches to the hungry masses, but it also reveals Fisherman’s Wharf's culinary and cultural coming-of-age. Early on in the twentieth century, the area now known as Fisherman’s Wharf was the domain of many Italian (largely Genoese) immigrants who, just like in the old country, made their living harvesting the ocean's bounty. With a fleet of 400 fishing boats, these immigrants plied the bay waters. Among these fishermen was Mike Geraldi, a Sicilian immigrant who sought to offer the people of San Francisco something distinct from the numerous seafood street vendors that were the mainstay of the wharf's culinary establishments. In 1935, Geraldi founded Fishermen’s Grotto in the location of Stall Number 9 to enhance the sit-down dining experience in the area. Originally built in a fashion reminiscent of a Venetian manor, its primary clientele were the fishermen themselves, many of whom enjoyed the restaurant's hearty meals at the end of the work day. Over the years and through multiple generations of the Geraldi family, Fishermen’s Grotto has become an iconic culinary destination in the city.
Location Image Photo by Brockney 52/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by David Paul Ohmer/Flickr.
Location Image Original owner Mike Geraldi, c. 1934. Courtesy of Fishermen's Grotto.
Location Image Fishermen's Grotto, 1935. Courtesy of Fishermen's Grotto.
Location Image Postcard, 1950s. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Women's Army Corps (WACS) at Fishermen's Grotto, 1951. Courtesy of Army.Arch/Flickr.
Location Image Fishermen's Grotto, undated. Courtesy of Fishermen's Grotto.
Location Image Fishermen's Grotto, undated. Courtesy of Fishermen's Grotto.
Location Image Fishermen's Grotto, undated. Courtesy of Fishermen's Grotto.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Recipe courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Recipe courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Recipe courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Menu courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
corner
×

Fior d’Italia

Established in the Italian neighborhood of North Beach by the Del Monte and Marianetti families, Fior d'Italia opened its doors in 1886. Reputed to be the oldest Italian American restaurant in the U.S., the business originally served the residents of the local bordello. The original building burned down in 1893, but the business quickly reopened nearby. In 1906, Fior lost its building yet again, but opened a service tent the day after the earthquake to serve soup to displaced San Franciscans. In 1907, Fior D'Italia reopened a restaurant on Broadway and Kearny and expanded to seat up to 750 people, accommodating nearly 1,500 meals per day. After several more moves, the much-loved Italian restaurant landed in its current location on Mason Street. Though the business has migrated throughout the city, it has remained true to its authentic, Northern Italian roots and has played a central role in San Francisco's cuisine and social vibrancy for generations. For an expanded history and some of the restaurant's orignal Italian recipes, look for their personal history and cookbook online, "The Fabulous Fior - Over 100 Years in an Italian Kitchen."
Location Image Undated photograph courtesy of restaurant.com.
Location Image Restaurant at 492 Broadway Street, undated. Photo courtesy of Fior d'Italia.
Location Image Banquet for the Italian Consul at Fior D’Italia, March 5, 1912. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Banquet in celebration of 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Photo courtesy of Fior d'Italia.
Location Image Del Monte and Marianetti families, undated. Photo courtesy of Fior d'Italia.
Location Image Del Monte family, undated. Photo courtesy of Fior d'Italia.
Location Image Menu excerpt, 1925. Photo courtesy of Fior d'Italia.
Location Image Undated advertisement courtesy of cable-car-guy.com.
Location Image Italian waiters, undated. Photo courtesy of Fior d'Italia.
Location Image Italian staff, undated. Photo courtesy of Fior d'Italia.
Location Image George Marianetti and customers, 1950. Photo courtesy of Fior d'Italia.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of ebay.com.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of ebay.com.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of ebay.com.
corner
×

Far East Café

Far East Café has been serving both locals and visitors fresh Cantonese and Szechwan cuisine since the restaurant’s opening in 1920. The restaurant is located right in the heart of Chinatown, just two blocks away from the Gateway of Chinatown and directly across the street from Old St. Mary’s Church. Far East Café is the only restaurant in Chinatown that offers private seating with elegant, mahogany curtained booths. Traditional dim sum is served at lunchtime, and in the evenings dinner is served in the stunningly ornate dining room. Two full-service bars are located in a private, separated part of the restaurant. The interior of Far East Café is adorned with antique Chinese artwork that dates back over a hundred years. Oriental chandeliers hang gracefully from the elevated ceilings, and interior murals bring color and liveliness to the walls. Far East Café’s grand ballroom has been a popular destination place for hosting receptions, banquets, special events, and business meetings for both the Chinatown community and San Franciscans at large for generations.
Location Image View of Grant Avenue in 1964 with Far East Café on left. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of ebay.com.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of ebay.com.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Double Play

Over a century old, Double Play is the ultimate baseball lover’s paradise. This bar and restaurant has been a favorite hangout joint for Bay Area baseball fans since its opening in 1909. Double Play is among the last remaining tributes to the old San Francisco Seals Stadium. The stadium was demolished after the 1959 season, shortly after the New York Giants moved to San Francisco and the Seals departed for Arizona. The old stadium site is located right across the street. Inside, the bar showcases a vast collection of notable past player’s gloves, scorecards from famous games throughout baseball history, and signs advertising old San Francisco businesses that have since disappeared.

Until late 2013, the restaurant included a backroom featuring a much-loved mural that evoked the atmosphere of the old Seals stadium. Painted in the 1990s, it depicted the Seals playing the Oakland Oaks in the old Pacific Coast baseball league. A pitcher’s mound and bases painted on the floor of the bar further brought the painting to life.

Today, Double Play continues to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. For many San Franciscans, this is the go-to spot for a unique setting with award-winning burgers and drinks that’ll knock you right out of the park.
Location Image Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Photo by Wally G/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of thehamblogger.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Owner Rafael Hernandez, 2013. Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image Seal Stadium, undated. Photo courtesy of deadballbaseball.com.
corner
×

Dogpatch Saloon

The initial owners of the land currently occupied by Dogpatch Saloon were Richard and Mary Brady, who were the proprietors of a Classical Revival style saloon from 1912 until the onset of Prohibition. In the wake of the 18th Amendment, they converted the space into a "soft drink store," though the business quickly reverted back to a saloon after the end of Prohibition. In 1937, the Bradys sold the building to Achille and Anna Davis, who remodeled the building in the Mediterranean Revival style. Mike Apicelli, who owned the bar from the late 90s through early 2013, gave the business its current name, claiming to be the first person in the neighborhood to include the word "Dogpatch" in the name of a business. Apicelli also began the tradition of hosting Sunday jazz sessions at the bar. Today, it remains the oldest saloon in the Dogpatch area, making it a much-loved neighborhood watering hole and jazz venue. The business changed hands in 2012, and, while the new owners revamped the menu and much of the bar, they did preserve key features in order to maintain the historical character, including the original barfront and the playful, dog-faced stained glass windows. The updated interior design and furnishings pay tribute to the neighborhood's industrial history.
Location Image Photo by SMC Garnigle/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Thomas Vander Wal/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Thomas Vander Wal/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Thrillist SF.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Thrillist SF.
corner
×

Dianda’s Italian American Pastry

Dianda’s Italian American Pastry was opened in 1962 by Enrichetta and Elio Dianda, natives of Lucca, Tuscany who left Italy for San Francisco following WWII. The Diandas purchased a bakery at 2883 Mission Street, which had been in operation since 1906, and gave it their family's surname. It has since become a San Francisco tradition, popular for wedding and birthday cakes, as well as Italian cookies, pastries, candies, and panettone. Hanging from the bakery’s walls are black-and-white photos of Enrichetta and Elio Dianda; near the entrance is an inscription that reads, “Elio Dianda & Sons.” With strong feelings about worker’s rights, Dianda’s offers their employees two unions – one for the bakers and another for the clerks. Enrichetta and Elio Dianda handed down the business to their sons, Armando, Floreano, and Pascuale, who managed the bakery until 2004 when principal owner, Pascuale Dianda sold it to fellow-bakers and long-time employees Floyd Goldberg, Sergio Flores, and Luis Pena. The new owners remain committed to Dianda’s tradition of offering fresh, traditional, Italian pastries on a daily basis while also offering some of their own baking traditions, including Tres Leches cake and New York Brownie with walnuts.
Location Image Dianda's storefront, courtesy of bctgm.org.
Location Image Union Member and co-owner Sergio Flores has been a baker at Dianda's for more than 30 years. Courtesy of bctgm.org.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Dianda's Bakery.
Location Image Photo by Pengrin/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Pengrin/Flickr.
corner
×

Alfred’s Steakhouse

Local waiter Alfredo Bacchini opened a restaurant at 886 Broadway Street in 1928, naming it simply "Alfred's." Closing only briefly for Prohibition, Alfred served up hearty dinners and drinks to people from all over the Bay Area until 1973, when Art and Al Petri purchased the restaurant. The Petri family has owned and operated the restaurant ever since, bringing the menu into the new millennium while maintaining the high quality standards set by Alfred upon the restaurant's conception. In 1997, the restaurant moved to 659 Merchant Street, the site of the former Blue Fox. Today, Alfred's Steak House serves only mouthwatering corn-fed beef cooked over Mexican mesquite charcoal to its patrons, delighting stomachs with every bite.
Location Image Chef at Alfred & Secondo’s (previous name) pointing out beef at 886 Broadway location, April 1942. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Menu courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Interior photo courtesy of Yelp.
corner
×

Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant

Touting the title of "The Premier Tequila Bar on Earth," Tommy's Mexican Restaurant vies to bring authentic Mexican cuisine and spirits to the people of San Francisco. Serving genuine, family-made recipes from the Yucatán, Tomás "Tommy" Bermejo and his wife Elmy paired great food with 100% agave tequila. Tommy originally migrated from the town of Oxkutzcab as part of a guest worker program, but after the restaurant opened, his much of his extended family joined him. Over the years, he provided numerous jobs and an informal safety net for dozens of friends and acquaintances from the Yucatán who moved to San Francisco, many of them settling in the Richmond District. Son Julio transformed the restaurant into the Bay Area’s premier tequila spot, earning him the title of Jalisco’s sole U.S. Tequila ambassador. Whether you're a first time patron or a member of Tommy's Blue Agave Club, Tommy's Mexican Restaurant is a slice of Mexico in the heart of San Francisco.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Julio Bermejo poses behind the bar. Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Undated menu courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Punchcard for Tommy's Blue Agave Club. Photo courtesy of sfgate.com
corner
×

Tommy’s Joynt

Opened in 1947, Tommy's Joynt is the original hofbrau (a cafeteria-style restaurant) of San Francisco. Tommy's Joynt has been owned and operated by the Harris, Veprin, and Pollack trio since 1947. Tommy Harris, one of the original owners, was also a popular crooner on the local radio station KFRC during its golden era in the 1930s. In 2000, the Veprin children and grandchildren took over full-time operations while maintaining the restaurant’s affordability and friendly neighborhood character, which contribute to the colorful and distinctive Tommy’s Joynt atmosphere. Over the years, such illustrious figures as Herb Caen and Senator Diane Feinstein have dined at the restaurant that bills itself as the place “Where Turkey is King.”
Location Image Tommy’s Joynt managers Orlando Velez and Fred Quick with money found on the ground of the restaurant, 1958. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Tommy's Joynt, 1964. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Photo by Ukenaut/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Undated menu. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Undated menu. Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
corner
×

Tommaso’s Italian Restaurant

The Cantolupo family opened Tommaso's under the name Lupo's in 1935 on Broadway Street, just in the heart of North Beach. Known for their 75-cent wood-fired Neopolitan pizza, the location was a favorite among departing and returning WWII GIs. In 1971, the restaurant was turned over to Chef Tommy Chin, who changed the name to Tommaso's before re-selling the restaurant to the newly-immigrated Crotti family in 1973.

The interior resembles a traditional southern Italian restaurant, with murals of Naples and Mount Vesuvius adorning the otherwise crisp white walls. At the heart of the restaurant is the long, family-style table that extends from the kitchen to the door. Today, their pizza still makes headlines, with "USA Today" naming it one of the 10 best pizzas in the United States. Most nights, there’s a long line of locals and travelers waiting for a taste of this San Francisco institution.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Original wood-burning oven. Photo courtesy of seriouseats.com.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Undated menu, Lupo's Pizzeria. Courtesy of ebay.com
Location Image Undated menu, Lupo's Pizzeria. Courtesy of ebay.com
Location Image Undated menu, Lupo's Pizzeria. Courtesy of ebay.com
corner
×

The Saloon

The Saloon opened in 1861, making it the oldest living bar in San Francisco. Alsatian Ferdinand E. Wagner and sons originally operated a grocery store in the building, but they applied for a water permit in 1861 for Wagner’s Beer Hall at the same location. The building survived the 1906 earthquake, and legend has it that the bar persisted through the subsequent fires because the fire brigade made sure to protect the prostitutes who worked upstairs. Beyond the lore, customers have come to the Saloon for decades to hear the blues bands that take the stage seven days a week. Current owner Myron Mu has been at the helm since 1984, having taken over business from his father, who purchased the building in the 1950s.
Location Image Wagner's Beer Hall, 1870s. Courtesy of Myron Mu.
Location Image Wagner's Beer Hall, 1870s. Courtesy of Myron Mu.
Location Image Photo courtesy of roadtripsareus.com.
Location Image Photo by Dandeluca/Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of The Saloon.
corner
×

The Homestead

Opened in 1906, the Homestead was originally named the “Old Homestead.” Evidence shows that the Old Homestead was probably a speakeasy during Prohibition. Today, the design of The Homestead is identical to its early 20th century appearance. After nearly 100 years of continual service, the Homestead underwent a meticulous restoration to celebrate its Victorian heritage.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Maker Media/Flickr.
corner
×

The EndUp

Known as San Francisco’s most legendary after-hours nightclub, The EndUp celebrates dance culture like no other venue. Conveniently located on 6th & Harrison in SoMa , the thumping bass heard as you approach The EndUp tells you that you're about to embark on a journey in a true San Francisco institution.

One of San Francisco's oldest and hippest gay clubs, the bar entered the dance scene in 1973 with owner Al Hankin. Known for its late-night parties, translucent dancefloor, and the Sunday Afternoon Wet Jockstrap Dance Contest, The EndUp was a comfortable place for gay San Franciscans to mingle, drink, and dance the night away. During the seventies, the bar hosted disco parties seven nights a week and served as a "coming out" place for a many young men. Notable DJs included Rob Kimbel, Lester Temple, Randy Tyler, and Tommy Rogers, all of whom tragically succumbed to AIDS.

Eventually Al's brother Carl took over and managed the club until 2005, when The EndUp was sold to a group of six people who continue to bring in a diverse group of DJs to the grace the speakers with their music. Today, people from all walks of life come to party at The EndUp, forming a fully integrated nightclub community. While certain elements have changed, including the dance floor, the original wooden bar remains. On Sunday mornings, The EndUp continues to host its infamous flagship T-Dance party (originally called The Church in 1980), delivering timeless house music. Every night is a different theme, sound, and party, making The Endup a legendary part of San Francisco history and music culture in SoMa.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Card courtesy of discomusic.com.
Location Image Card courtesy of discomusic.com.
Location Image Card courtesy of discomusic.com.
Location Image Flyer courtesy of discomusic.com.
Location Image Flyer courtesy of discomusic.com.
Location Image Flyer courtesy of discomusic.com.
Location Image Card courtesy of discomusic.com.
Location Image Flyer courtesy of discomusic.com.
Location Image Featured in Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City."
corner
×

Thanh Long Restaurant

Matriarch Diana An first opened Thanh Long in 1971 as a 20-seat diner. When her entire family arrived after fleeing the Communist take-over of South Vietnam, the restaurant expanded and now is hailed as San Francisco’s first Vietnamese restaurant. The name of the restaurant was originally supposed to be “Thang Long” or “ascending dragon” in Vietnamese, but a printer’s error caused to name to appear as “Thanh Long,” or “Green Dragon.” Since the color green has traditionally brought prosperity and luck to the Vietnamese culture, the misspelled name has remained to this day.

Diana’s daughter-in-law, Helene, came from a prominent family in Saigon, as her father and grandfather both held the royal title of Vice Consul to the Vietnamese Emperor. When Helene, her husband Danny, and their three young daughters landed in San Francisco, they brought with them dozens of family recipes that would later be the hallmark of the establishment, including the now-popular Roasted Garlic Crab. Having been raised in a family of diplomats, Helene attended many formal dinners as a child, with menus prepared by Vietnamese, Chinese, and French chefs. The unique blend of the foods to which she was accustomed informed the menu at Thanh Long, leading Michael Bauer, restaurant critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, to name Helene “the mother of Fusion cuisine in the U.S.”
Location Image Photo by Yuichi.Sakuraba/Flickr.
Location Image An family collage. Photo courtesy of Thanh Long Restaurant.
Location Image The infamous namesake dragon. Photo courtesy of Thanh Long Restaurant.
Location Image Photo by Yuichi.Sakuraba/Flickr.
corner
×

Terry’s Lodge

Around 1948, Terry’s Lodge opened under the longtime ownership of Michael Fitzpatrick (1908-2000) at 1821 Haight Street until he relocated the bar to its current home in the Inner Sunset around 1973. The bar replaced Bob’s Tavern (later known as Bob’s Kozy Korner), which began serving drinks in 1943. If you look closely behind the big-screen TVs, you can still see the original wood bar dating to the 1940s. With no windows and an old neon sign out front, Terry’s Lodge is a champion among San Francisco’s dive bars. Opening every day at 6 a.m. and featuring cheap beer during Giants games, Terry’s Lodge is a local favorite for Inner Sunset residents. Free pool tables add to its charm.
Location Image Interior of Bob’s Tavern at 15th Avenue and Irving Street, 1948. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Interior of Terry’s Lodge, 1974. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Thomas Hawk/Flickr.
corner
×

Schroeder’s Restaurant

Schroeder’s was opened in 1893 by Prussian immigrant Henry Schroeder on Market between First and Second Streets. Shortly after opening, the restaurant relocated to the corner of Sixteenth and Mission Streets, but unfortunately was destroyed by the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. Henry Schroeder wanted to help rebuild the Financial District, so he reopened the restaurant on 117 Front Street in 1911. Originally, the restaurant was a gentlemen's club, but when it was sold to Max Kniesche after Schroeder’s death in 1922, the restaurant was opened to women as well. Schroeder’s prospered for 40 years at the 117 Front Street location until it moved to its current location at 240 Front Street. In 1997, Jana and Stefan Filipclk, immigrants from the former German state of Reichenberg in the Czech Republic, purchased the restaurant and actively preserved its Bavarian heritage. Schroeder's changed hands once more in late 2013 and reopened in May 2014 with an updated look and revamped menu featuring classic German-inspired fare. The new owners retained the spirit of the warm beer hall, and longtime patrons will still recognize the iconic rosewood bar and vintage Herman Richter murals.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Brochure courtesy of Schroeder's Restaurant.
Location Image Brochure courtesy of Schroeder's Restaurant.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Schroeder's Restaurant.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Schroeder's Restaurant.
Location Image Matchbook courtesy of Ebay.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Coaster courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image 1960s German beer coaster, attributed to Schroeder's. Photo by Roger4336/Flickr.
Location Image 1960s German beer coaster, attributed to Schroeder's. Photo by Roger4336/Flickr.
corner
×

Sam’s Grill

The story of Sam's Grill begins in 1867 when Irish merchant Michael Molan Moraghan began selling fresh Bay Oysters out of a vendor stall in the California Market, which was located in the neighborhood that later became the Financial District. He quickly became the area's leading seafood and shell fish merchant, giving him the title "The Oyster King." Though the California Market was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake, the Moraghan business continued operating at various spots around the city. By 1919, the California Market had been rebuilt between California and Pine Streets, and Moraghan's business was renamed Burlingame Oyster Company. Bought in 1922 by businessman Samuel Zenovitch, Burlingame Oyster Company became Bay Point Oyster Co. and Zenovitch & Zenovitch before arriving at Sam's Seafood Grotto. In 1936, under the ownership of Frank Seput, the seafood establishment became Sam's Grill and Seafood Restaurant, and the name has endured ever since. The business relocated to 374 Bush Street in 1946, and Seput’s sons joined the business after the end of the war.
Location Image Photo by VintageRoadTrip/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by hmdavid/Flickr.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Photo by ecastro/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Cento Cammelli/Flickr.
Location Image Sam's Grill, ca. 1949. Photo courtesy of the Nob Hill Gazette.
corner
×

Sam Wo

Dating back to 1912, Sam Wo is one of the oldest restaurants in Chinatown, with roots linked to the recovery of the community after the earthquake and fire. In its early years, it operated exclusively as a take-out restaurant, but dine-in service was added as the community prospered and customers had more time and money to spend dining. In the 1950s, it was a popular hangout for members of the Beat Generation, who frequented the restaurant to order from its "secret menu." The restaurant also gained widespread attention for its notorious server, Edsel Ford Fung, who earned the title "world's rudest waiter" from the San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen. Though Fung passed away in 1984, many patrons continue to tell stories about his unusual behavior, and other restaurant staff carried on his legacy of unique entertainment.

Sam Wo closed its doors in early 2012 as a result of health and fire code violations, but the "Save Sam Wo Coalition," comprised of Board of Supervisors President David Chu, Chinatown neighborhood leaders, and the owners, rallied to help raise funds for renovations. The Ho family, which has owned the business for more than 50 years, is committed to preserving the menu and overall experience of dining at Sam Wo as future plans develop. Among the traditions that the family aims to maintain are the rice noodles, which David Ho made each morning from scratch.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Edsel with "abused" customers in 1982. Photo: Wikimedia.
Location Image Undated photo by Jason G. on Yelp.
Location Image Herb Caen's tribute to Edsel Ford Fung, 1984. Courtesy of sfgate.com.
Location Image San Francisco Chronicle, April 20, 2012.
Location Image San Francisco Chronicle, April 24, 2012.
corner
×

Red’s Java House

During the peak of San Francisco's port, when the piers bristling from the waterfront were much more active than they are today, “java houses” or “bayside bars” were common establishments. Perched on almost every pier, they served longshoreman, dockworkers, sailors, and other mariners with hot coffee and filling fare to fuel their grueling workdays. Only few such establishments remain, including Java House and Red's Java House, which are often confused and have an integral history.

The java joint on Pier 30, which first opened as "Franco's Lunch" during the Depression, was known for its cheeseburger and beer breakfast special. Java House, just a few docks away on Pier 40, was founded in 1912 and around 1952 was purchased by two brothers, Michael and Thomas “Red” McGarvey. Local boys, the McGarveys grew up in Potrero Hill. Red joined the Merchant Marine at age 15 and sailed the globe during World War II. As the war ended, the McGarvey brothers returned home and teamed up as java house proprietors. Eventually, a brotherly feud led Red to leave the partnership and purchase the java house on Pier 30, to which he gave the nickname by which he'd been known since childhood due to his red hair. Fortunately, the brothers eventually reconciled, and Red was joined again in business by his brother, who gave up the original Java House to work at Red's.

Red's Java House was operated by the brothers for over forty years, although challenges were had along the way. In the early 1970s, when cargo-shipping operations left the Port of San Francisco for Oakland, Red's Java House lost much of its business. The McGarvey brothers, however, refashioned the establishment for a broader range of locals and the tourist trade, which kept them afloat. The java house was also threatened in the 1970s by a major fire that destroyed the shed of Pier 32 behind Red's. The restaurant survived unscathed, and the McGarvey brothers persevered to became one of the last outposts of the old waterfront. The brothers have since retired, with Michael passing in 2011. But Red's Java House is still situated near the Bay Bridge, serving coffee and food, including its classic hamburgers, to locals and tourists alike.
Location Image Undated photo of Michael McGarvey by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Location Image Undated photo from the Heritage Archive.
Location Image Undated photo from the Heritage Archive.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Vanderwal/Flickr.
Location Image Undated photo by Brant Ward for the Chronicle.
Location Image Painter Richard Louis Perri shows off his painting of Red's Java House on the Embarcadero. Photo by Mike Kepka for the Chronicle.
Location Image Interior shot of Red's Java House. Photo by Steel Wool/Flickr.
corner
×

Pier 23 Café

Pier 23 Café was founded in 1937 along the Embarcadero. During the heyday of the waterfront in the early 20th century, each pier was home to a “java house” or “bayside bar” that served longshoremen. dockworkers, and, during World War II, soldiers. The Café is famous for the 1939 photograph of the ladies of Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch, which hangs above the bar. Rand, San Francisco's reigning burlesque dancer, hosted the most popular attraction for people visiting the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island. Under the ownership of Havelock Jerome, the establishment began hosting live music in the 1950s. In 1958, "Chronicle" jazz critic Ralph Gleason declared Pier 23 Café "one of the few remaining Good Time and Pleasure Clubs left in an expanding universe of ICBMs, chromium bar fixtures and blue mirrors." This waterfront destination continues to serve fresh seafood, classic cocktails, and live music to locals and travelers alike!
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Pier 23 Café.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Pier 23 Café.
Location Image Photo courtesy of thebeefjar.com
Location Image Matchbook courtesy of Ebay.
corner
×

Philosopher’s Club

Just a short walk from West Portal MUNI station, the Philosopher's Club is a neighborhood bar perfect for friendly gatherings, watching the game, or starting off your weekend after a long work week. This neighborhood hangout recently underwent renovation, transforming it from a dive to a hip and cozy place for a drink. Inspired by the establishment's name, the ceiling features a mural of famous historic thinkers. Whether you're a local, a tourist, or just want to spend some time with a drink and your thoughts, the Philosopher's Club is the place to be. Interestingly enough, the bar features the only photo of famed bartender Jerry Thomas in San Francisco, as he prepares his Blue Blazer cocktail. Thomas wrote the first book on mixology and was a noted figure in San Francisco during the Gold Rush, bartending at the Occidental hotel on Montgomery Street.
Location Image Philosopher's Club, 1980s. Photo by William M. on Yelp.
Location Image Photo courtesy of the Philosopher's Club.
Location Image Photo by Telstar on Yelp.
Location Image Photo courtesy of mistersf.com.
corner
×

Mitchell’s Ice Cream

The Mitchell family owned and operated a small dairy farm near 29th St. and Noe St. in the late 1800s. Larry and Jack Mitchell grew up in a home on this same property, and this connection to the dairy business prompted them to open an ice cream parlor in the Mission District in 1953. The brothers constructed the business in their spare time and learned the craft of ice cream making in a grand total of three days. They wanted their parlor to serve the best ice cream in San Francisco, so they originally conceived 19 flavors using only the freshest ingredients. Today, Mitchell’s is owned by Larry and his wife Claire and managed by their children Linda and Brian Mitchell. Now serving over 40 flavors, the family still makes each 10-gallon batch on site.
Location Image Mitchell's Dairy Farm, 1891. Photo courtesy of Mitchell's Ice Cream.
Location Image Opening Day, 1953. Photo courtesy of Mitchell's Ice Cream.
Location Image Larry Mitchell with customers in 1953. Photo courtesy of Mitchell's Ice Cream.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Mitchell's Ice Cream.
Location Image View of the storefront, 1983. Photo courtesy of Mitchell's Ice Cream.
Location Image Two generations: Linda, Larry, and Brian Mitchell. Photo courtesy of Mitchell's Ice Cream.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Larry Mitchell, undated. Photo courtesy of Mitchell's Ice Cream.
Location Image Larry Mitchell, 2005. Photo courtesy of Mitchell's Ice Cream.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Mitchell's Ice Cream.
corner
×

Little Shamrock

As the Sunset District’s oldest business, the Little Shamrock has been serving drinks on Lincoln Way since the late nineteenth century. So the legend goes, Antone J. Herzo (born in Austria) and his wife, Julia Herzo (born in Ireland) opened the doors in 1893 to serve workers at the Midwinter Fair in Golden Gate Park. San Francisco city directories, however, indicate that the Herzos resided in the Richmond District and operated a saloon at 7th Avenue and Fulton Street. Following her husband’s death in 1893, Julia Herzo moved the Richmond bar to 733 5th Avenue and established the Little Shamrock around 1896, as well as another bar at Ocean Avenue and Arlington Street the following year. Around 1900, she married Jason P. Quigley, and the couple resided in the same building as the Little Shamrock. Following his mother’s death in 1929, Antone (Tony) P. Herzo, Jr. (born in 1885) took over the pub. He married his beloved Charlotte (Lottie) Herzo, and they raised two children, Dorothy and Antone. Since the 1930s, the Little Shamrock has attracted athletes and sport fans due to its proximity to Kezar Stadium. The Little Shamrock’s atmosphere remains little changed since Tony Herzo’s death in 1970, and the bar continues to pay homage to the Herzo family and its past.
Location Image Little Shamrock, ca. 1905. Photo courtesy of the Western Neighborhoods Project
Location Image Little Shamrock, ca. 1910. Photo courtesy of the Western Neighborhoods Project
Location Image World War I draft registration card for Antone P. Herzo, 1918. Source: Ancestry.com.
Location Image Bartender at Little Shamrock, 1974. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public LIbrary.
Location Image Image of motorcycle outside Little Shamrock, 1974. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public LIbrary.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Gold Dust Lounge

The Gold Dust Lounge was established in 1966 by Greek immigrant brothers Jim and Tasios Bovis. It opened in the shop space on Powell Street, near Union Square, that was formerly occupied by Bustles and Beaus, a 'Gay Nineties' themed burlesque bar, which had occupied the space since 1960. Although the Bovises made some changes to the exterior storefront and added a bandstand to the rear of the space, they made very few changes to the interior of the bar, essentially keeping the Bustles & Beaus' décor. This included a ceiling mural of cavorting nudes that had been painted by an unnamed MGM set designer, flocked wallpaper, brass electroliers, a salvaged Victorian bar, and a fire pole that the cocktail waitresses (who wore peacock tails) would slide down periodically.

When the doors opened in 1967, the Gold Dust Lounge was exclusively a cocktail lounge, featuring such drink specials as $0.76 Irish coffees and $0.60 martinis. It also quickly evolved into a "piano bar" with frequent singalongs. Dixieland jazz performances were popular through the 1970s, when the bar switched over to featuring rock standards. Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Janis Joplin, Herb Caen, and Willie Brown were known regulars at various times during the Gold Dust Lounge's history. Caen called the bar Downtown's last "night cappery."

After 47 years in San Francisco's popular Union Square area, the Lounge faced eviction in 2012 due to a corporate buyout offer, leaving the beloved bar without a home. A city-wide preservation effort ensued as locals fought to save the Gold Dust Lounge. Though ultimately evicted, the Gold Dust Lounge relocated to a newly remodeled Fisherman's Wharf location that opened in 2013. In its new location, the Gold Dust Lounge has worked to preserve the atmosphere and look of the previous location through the menu and relocated original decor.
Location Image 247 Powell Street. Courtesy of the Gold Dust Lounge.
Location Image 247 Powell Street. Courtesy of the Gold Dust Lounge.
Location Image Herb Caen at the old Gold Dust (undated). Photo courtesy of the Gold Dust Lounge.
Location Image In this column from 1996, Herb Caen writes: "We headed for the last of the authentic nightcapperies, the Gold Dust on Powell." Courtesy of the Gold Dust Lounge.
Location Image 247 Powell Street. Courtesy of the Gold Dust Lounge.
Location Image From Gracia Bovis: “Jim had beautiful cocktail waitresses so I decided that I was going to put them in costumes. I made dresses with ostrich feathers around the hemline. They wore high heels, red satin shoes, a plume in their hair. They were really just spectacular. I painted a portrait of one of the waitresses. The costumes probably lasted a year because it was rather costly. The girls would sit down, the feathers would crack. I don’t remember what they wore after they gave up the red dresses but that’s how Jim started, with these beautiful waitresses in red costumes.” Courtesy of the Gold Dust Lounge.
Location Image Cat Hill serenades Willie Brown with "Save the Gold Dust Lounge." Courtesy of the Gold Dust Lounge.
Location Image Bing Crosby was a silent partner in Bustles & Beaus. Legend has it that he commissioned the ceiling mural from MGM Studios in the 1950s.
Location Image Mayor Ed Lee at the new Gold Dust. Courtesy of the Gold Dust Lounge.
Location Image Bartender Casey Lippi mixes an Irish Coffee. Courtesy of the Gold Dust Lounge.
Location Image New Gold Dust Lounge. Tev Lee Photography.
Location Image Tev Lee Photography.
Location Image Tev Lee Photography.
Location Image Tev Lee Photography.
Location Image Tev Lee Photography.
corner
×

Gino and Carlo

In 1953, Gino Guidi and his wife Renato Guidi acquired Tony and Mario, the short-lived bar that opened in 1948 at this location. Gino had been running a grocery store with his brother Guido Guidi in the Marina. The Guidis partnered with Carlos Matteucci (previously operating the Columbus Beer Garden) and christened their new establishment "Gino and Carlo." Located in the heart of North Beach, the bar predominantly served an Italian clientele, as well as seamen, longshoremen, and scavengers from the city’s ports. Writer Stan Delaplane, named one of the "last of the old irreplaceables" by Herb Caen, often composed his column at the bar. Today, Gino and Carlo caters to people from all over the city and is considered one of the most authentic old-time bars in San Francisco. In a 2010 San Francisco Chronicle article, Carl Nolte described it as “a place that’s like the living room of North Beach, with its own customs and rhythms.”
Location Image Undated view of Green Street. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Richard Brautigan reading at Dino [i.e. Gino] & Carlo, ca. 1967. Mark Green, photographer. Mark Green papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Location Image Co-owner Frank Rossi. Courtesy of legacy.com
Location Image Photo by Dave Glass on Flickr.
Location Image Frank Rossi with poet Tony Dingman. Courtesy of sfgate.com
Location Image Herb Caen and Stanton Delaplane, undated. Courtesy of MisterSF.
Location Image Photo courtesy of yelp.com
Location Image Photo courtesy of citysearch.com
corner
×

Empress of China

The Empress of China Bar and Restaurant is known for its breathtaking views overlooking San Francisco's Chinatown and Nob Hill neighborhoods. Visitors enter the restaurant via an elevator, where, upon exiting, they find themselves beneath an intricate 50-ton octagonal pavilion inspired by the original creation located in the royal pleasure park of Peking. The intricate wooden pavilion was built in Taiwan, shipped to San Francisco, and reassembled in Chinatown. While the bar is decorated in a distinct tiki style, the dining room aesthetics and decorations emulate the architectural form and décor of the Han Dynasty. The ceilings are adorned in grand chandeliers that were also made in China over 200 years ago and brought to Chinatown for hanging in San Francisco’s first large venue Chinese restaurant before relocating to the Empress. Elegant wood panels, paintings, peacock feathers, and other artifacts adorn the restaurant’s numerous rooms.

Reminiscent of the grounds of a palace, with culinary offerings representing the four traditional schools of Chinese cooking, the Empress of China soon gained a reputation as the “go-to place” for Chinese fine dining. Over the decades, its restaurant and ballroom (complete with dance floor and stage) have served as venues for weddings, family parties, red egg and ginger parties, and community events. The first “Miss Chinatown Pageant” was held at the Empress. Many community organizations, including the Chinatown Merchants Association, continue to host meetings and events at Empress, including family associations, some of which have up to 500-600 members! Empress of China is a staple of San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood and loves to serve good food with style.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Menu courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Menu courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Menu courtesy of the San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Courtesy of collectiblematchbooks.com
Location Image Postcard courtesy of deanjab.com
Location Image Menu, 1970s. Courtesy of the National Museum of American History.
Location Image Fragment of a menu, 1970s. Courtesy of the National Museum of American History.
corner
×

Benkyo-do Company

Benkyo-do Company is one of Japantown's original businesses, which has existed in two known locations within Japantown since 1906. Founded by Suyeichi Okamura (born in Kagoshima, Japan, in 1886), the business was originally located on Geary Street and remained there through 1940. During World War II, the Okamura family was detained at Amache internment camp in Colorado. When the Okamuras returned to San Francisco’s Japantown after interment, they reestablished Benkyo-do Co. near the corner of Geary and Buchanan streets. A few years later, in 1959, the business moved to its current location during a time of major neighborhood reorganization that occurred as a result of federally funded urban renewal. Shortly after moving into the current building, the business was passed to Hirofumi Okamura, son of the founder. Hirofumi, also known as “Hippo,” operated the business for 30 years before passing it to his sons, Bobby and Ricky Okamura, who have run the business since 1990.

Initially known as the Benkyodo Candy Factory, the business has always specialized in the manufacturing of the Japanese confections, mochi, and manju. Today, it is the last remaining manufacturer of these traditional Japanese foods in San Francisco and the oldest of two such manufacturers in the Bay Area. The company produces several hundred pieces of mochi and manju a day in 15 different varieties, using a traditional handmade method that was brought to the U.S. in 1906. The shop at the front of the building features a bakery counter where the mochi and manju are sold, as well as a lunch counter that serves Japanese American fare. The shop has been a local gathering place throughout its history and has also become an attraction to Japanese tourists, who come to enjoy traditional handmade Japanese desserts that are becoming less common in Japan as tastes turn toward Western cuisine. Benkyo-do Co. is one of the last remaining Issei (first generation) founded businesses in Japantown; the only others to remain active are believed to be Soko Hardware and Toraya Restaurant.

The building that houses Benkyo-do Co. was constructed in 1958 and contained both a shop and residence to house the business and its owners. The International-style building was designed by Kazuo Goto, a Japanese American architect based in Berkeley, and was constructed by S. Handa Sons, a building and carpentry business active in the Japantown neighborhood. Original architectural plans show that the building was specifically designed for the business it houses. The first floor contains senbei and mochi rooms as well as a shop space. (Senbei are a type of Japanese cracker, while mochi are rice cakes, often filled with ice cream, bean paste, or other sweets. Manju is a derivation of mochi filled with red bean paste.) The senbei and mochi rooms are called out specifically in the architectural drawings for the building, along with the equipment and stations necessary to the manufacturing processes. The senbei room includes space for the machine that bakes the crackers. The mochi room features a space for the usu, the wood or stone mortar used to pound rice into a paste; areas for sei-ros, the large rectangular metal or bamboo steamers where mochi and manju are cooked; and a kama space for the large cast-iron pots used to cook bean paste or heat water for tea. The mochi room also has a grinding space, press space, oven, work table, and floors sloped for drainage. The second floor of the building was designed as the Okamura family residence and featured a sitting room, three bedrooms, a family room, a dining room, a laundry room, a kitchen, and a small deck. The Benkyo-do Co. building was constructed during an important time in the history of Japantown’s physical and cultural development, when Nikkei who were still stabilizing their cultural community after war-time internment were faced with imminent urban redevelopment. The Benkyo-do Co. building may be seen as both a functional resource and as a symbol of mid-century Nikkei values associated with modernization, permanence, and the continuation of a culturally significant historic business. Its construction was related to the events of post-World War II Japanese American resettlement, to the physical redevelopment of the Western Addition, and to the history of the Japantown cultural community.

Location Image Benkyodo Candy Factory, c. 1906. Courtesy of Gary Ono.
Location Image Suyeichi Okamura, founder of Benkyodo, in 1906. Photo courtesy of Gary Ono.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Kata, or hand skillet, of Benkyodo. Courtesy of Gary Ono.
Location Image Kata, or hand skillet, of Benkyodo. Courtesy of Gary Ono.
Location Image Photo by Gary Ono.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Sunshine Texas Day.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Sunshine Texas Day.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Sunshine Texas Day.
Location Image Map courtesy of California Japantowns.
corner
×

Beep’s Burgers

Located in the Ingleside neighborhood, Beep’s Burgers is a favorite among San Francisco City College students. Serving breakfast, burgers, and other treats, Beeps is known for its classic and fresh American food. The architecture hasn’t changed since Beep’s opening day, making it a snapshot into San Francisco’s mid-century past. Although the neon has been removed, even the original sign featuring a retro rocket ship stands prominently at the corner of Ocean and Lee Avenues.
Location Image Beep's Burger sign with the neon still intact, 2002. Courtesy of the Western Neighborhoods Project.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Menu courtesy of Dineries.
Location Image Menu courtesy of Dineries.
corner
×

Aub Zam Zam

Shimshon Mooshei (1894-1960) opened the “Persian Aub-Zam-Zam” on Haight Street at the start of World War II. In 1923, Mr. Mooshei along with his wife, Nanahan Mooshei, and son Bruno (born in 1920) immigrated from what is now Iran to California. Two years later, the family welcomed a second son, Allen, and settled in a flat at 604 Ashbury Street. After serving in the United States Navy during the war, Bruno Mooshei joined his father at the Persian themed bar, which Herb Caen referred to as the “Holy Shrine of the Dry Martini.” Bruno Mooshei maintained a strict set of rules and had no qualms about sending customers to another bar if they did not meet his standards. Everyone received a gin martini from Bruno, and only women were given napkins. With beautiful murals of Persian fairy tales painted by Jon S. Oshanna (1895-1980) and Persian-inspired decorative archways, Aub Zam Zam stands out along the upper stretch of Haight Street. Bruno Mooshei passed away in 2000, but the current owners continue to serve martinis (now among other drinks) and work to preserve his legacy.
Location Image Interior of Aub Zam Zam, 1942. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Matchbook cover, undated. Courtesy of greatjoints.com.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Anchor Steam Brewery

Anchor Steam Brewery traces its roots back to 1871, when Gottlieb Brekle bought an old beer-and-billiards saloon on Pacific Street and turned it into a brewery. German brewer Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law, Otto Schinkel, Jr., bought the brewery from Brekle and renamed it Anchor. The building on Pacific was destroyed during the fire that followed the Great Earthquake of 1906. The brewery was relocated to the South of Market (SoMa) by German brewers Joseph Kraus and August Meyer, along with liquor store owner Henry Tietjen. Prohibition officially shut the brewery down until 1933, though some unofficial brewing may have taken place without a paper trail. In 1965, Fritz Maytag acquired and revived the struggling brewery at a time when mass production of beer dominated the industry. Maytag returned to a style of brewing that was first brought to California by Czech and German immigrants in the 19th century, producing lager beer at ale temperatures. He reformulated the beer’s ingredients, becoming the first in America to brew without adjuncts or fillers since Prohibition. This revival of steam beer inspired much of today’s craft beer movement and, in the 1970s, the brewery emerged as a pioneering company focused on micro-brewing. In 1977, the company moved to their current location, a former coffee roasting factory building that dates to 1937.
Location Image Exterior view of Anchor Steam Brewery after 1934 fire. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Brewmaster Joe Allen at an Anchor Steam brew tap, 1952. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Brewmaster Joe Allen inspects barrels at Anchor Steam, 1959. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Brewmaster Joe Allen at an Anchor Steam brew tap, 1959. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Fritz Maytag at Anchor Steam, undated. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Fritz Maytag pours Anchor Steam beer, undated. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image “The Ballad of Steam Beer,” as published in "The Wave," (March 13, 1897). Courtesy of Anchor Brewing.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Alioto’s Restaurant

Today a tourist hot spot, Fisherman's Wharf was once a functioning waterfront facility where crab fisherman unloaded heaps of Dungeness crab caught in San Francisco Bay. Crab fishing was primarily undertaken by members of the large Italian population from the adjacent North Beach neighborhood and, subsequently, Italian cuisine came to dominate at the wharf. In the early days, the fishermen would set up steaming cauldrons on the dock-side to boil fresh-caught crab, which would then be sold in paper cups to passers by. The tradition continues today, with many Fisherman's Wharf restaurants featuring crab cauldrons out front.

Emerging from that early seafood-hawking tradition, Nunzio Alioto, a Scilian immigrant, set up a fresh fish stall on Fisherman's Wharf in 1925. He later sold lunches to Italian dockworkers. In 1932, he combined his two ventures into a restaurant and built the first permanent establishment on the wharf. The restaurant became an extensive family operation, with siblings and cousins joining the effort. When Alioto died in 1933, his wife Rosa took over the business and became the first female working at the wharf. The Alioto's children and, eventually, grandchildren took over operations. Most recently, the restaurant was run by a partnership of Nunzio Alioto, grandson of the original Nunzio, and his cousin, Joseph Alioto, backed by 37 relatives as shareholders. Both men grew up in the Marina, shucking crabs in the street for the family restaurant.

Alioto's flourished, becoming a must-visit spot for tourists coming to the 1939 San Francisco Exposition and World’s Fair. The restaurant also entertained sailors awaiting deployment during World War II. Later, in 1968, it became a gathering place for San Francisco's Democratic politicians when another Alioto cousin, attorney Joseph Alioto, became mayor of the city. Still involved in political circles, the family now claims Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier as a cousin. Enduring a fire, different stages of renovation, and expansion, Alioto’s still stands today and continues to be run by the fourth generation of the same family after seven decades. It continue to specialize in traditional Sicilian recipes and locally-caught seafood. One of its distinctive interior features is a wall composed of thousands of clam shells saved from diners’ meals. The wall was spared during the devastating fire in 1957.
Location Image Norma and Dean Papadakis dining at Alioto's, June 1952. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Cars parked outside in March, 1953. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Unknown orchestra plays at Alioto's, 1972. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Alioto's, October 1973. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Alioto's matchbook. Courtesy of ebay.com.
Location Image Courtesy of Matchbook Covers of San Francisco on Pinterest.
Location Image Photo by Heritage Staff.
corner
×

Elixir

The corner of 16th and Guerrero, home to the newly restored Elixir, has housed a saloon since the Wild West days of the Barbary Coast in 1858. Early records indicate that Hugh Mooney was the first proprietor. The current building was erected for Patrick J. McGinnis following the 1906 fire that ravaged the city and burnt the original building to the ground. Renowned Sonoma County architect Brainard Jones designed the replacement Victorian building. McGinnis, a prominent local attorney, had owned the saloon since 1893 and was one of the few proprietors to rebuild his bar in the same location after the disaster. During Prohibition, the bar was able to survive the ban on alcohol by classifying itself as a "soft drink parlor" until 1933. At the end of Prohibition, Patrick McGinnis sold the bar to Thomas Sheahan, who modified the layout of the bar to its current configuration. Sheahan added a kitchen, eliminated the cigar lounge and boot black stand, and converted the stock room to a women’s bathroom. This last change was particularly significant, as women were typically not welcome in bars prior to Prohibition.

In 1940, the saloon was renamed the Hunt-In Club, which was the first known name of the business as anything other than the proprietor’s name. Between 1965 and 1985, the bar was known as Swede’s before becoming Club Corona/La Bandita, a popular Latino gay bar. In 1990, the saloon was converted into Jack’s Elixir Bar, which rose to popularity during the micro-brew trend of the early to mid-90s. In 2003, proprietor H. Joseph Ehrmann restored the interior of the saloon, including its original bar, which, according to its brass plate, pre-dates the current building and may have survived the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. This transformation pays homage to Elixir’s storied past, including countless artifacts, drawings, and historic photographs on display for today’s patrons to enjoy.
Location Image Photo by FogCityFog/Flickr.
Location Image McGinnis' whisky label. Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Original Jack's Elixir Bar sign. Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Jack's Elixir Bar, prior to restoration. Photo courtesy of Elixir.
Location Image Newly restored interior. Photo courtesy of Elixir.
Location Image Brainard Jones' design for 3200 16th Street. Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Original Swede's signage. Photo courtesy of Elixir.
Location Image Sketch of the proprietor of Swede's. Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Java House

The Java House was founded in South Beach during a time when San Franciscans could find a “java house” or “bayside bar” on every pier, catering to the many longshoremen, dockworkers, and other blue collar workers that populated the waterfront. When it opened in 1912, it was known for serving hot dogs and coffee. Believed to be the oldest continuously operating restaurant on the Embarcadero, the Java House expanded beyond its original clientele over the years to serve a vast assortment of customers, including soldiers, yachtsman and yachtswomen, members of the San Francisco Giants, and even baseball legend Joe DiMaggio. The eatery has had several owners throughout its history; in the 1950s, Tom and Mike McGarvey purchased the Java House before opening another joint at Pier 30 - Red's Java House. Since 1984, Philip and Sotiria Papadopoulos have owned the restaurant and captained it through the transformation of San Francisco's waterfront. In the days following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, the Java House served coffee to people stranded in the city, despite not having any electricity. Much of the original fabric has been preserved, and the eatery today stands as a tribute to the Embarcadero's working-class heritage.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sanfranciscodays.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of javahousesf.com.
Location Image Cartoon courtesy of javahousesf.com.
Location Image View of Pier 40 (1934). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
corner
×

Hang Ah Tea Room

Hang Ah Tea Room was established in 1920 and is one of the oldest Chinese restaurants still in operation. Touted as the oldest dim sum house, this gem is tucked away in one of the Chinatown’s many small alleys. This restaurant was a symbol of hope after the destruction of much of Chinatown during the 1906 earthquake. Hang Ah and many other businesses sought to attract Western tourists, setting the stage for the destination that exists today. In addition to serving tea and hot beverages, Hang Ah also serves traditional Asian cuisine.
Location Image Photo courtesy of fogbayblog.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
corner
×

Manor Coffee Shop

The Manor Coffee Shop was established in 1967 in the West Portal District. The diner’s comfortable décor maintains its mid-century vibes with its red vinyl booths and stools, linoleum counter, and pink-uniformed waitresses. Manor Coffee Shop remains an authentic fixture in its neighborhood, with a loyal customer base of local residents.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk on Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Margot Hartford at sunset.com.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of breakfastatepiphany.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of David Gallagher on Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of David Gallagher on Flickr.
corner
×

Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Café

Specs' Twelve Alder Museum Café is one of North Beach’s vintage watering holes, a staple of the neighborhood’s bohemian heritage. Tucked away in an alley off of Columbus Street, this intimate enclave of bohemian and beatnik culture has served as an outlet for artists and poets since it opened in 1968. It is named after its owner, “Specs” Simmons, who has curated a wild collection of random artifacts and paraphernalia over the years. Notable among the items are the cigar store Indian, the Egyptian mummy wearing glasses, and the key to an old drunk tank from a local jail. Prior to 1968, the space housed "12 Adler," a popular lesbian bar that lost its liquor license in the early 1950s as the result of a raid on local gay bars. Specs opened his business after stints as a metal worker and bartender at Vesuvio's and intended his bar to be a spot for locals amid the topless joints of North Beach.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfopera.com
Location Image Photo courtesy of yelp.com
corner
×

Swan Oyster Depot

The Swan Oyster Depot is a small restaurant located in the Polk Street corridor. The Lausten brothers, four Danish men who delivered seafood throughout the city, opened the restaurant in 1912 to complement their existing business. Sal Sancimino purchased the establishment in 1946; his cousins – Frank, Al and Pa La Rocca - took over the reins in the 1970s. The seafood delivery service and the restaurant both remain vibrant businesses today.
Location Image Photo courtesy of foodieforays.wordpress.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of bettycrockercookoff.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Renee S. on Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Original Joe’s

Joe’s opened in 1937, when the country was in the midst of the Great Depression. The name “Joe’s” had long been a generic name coined in the Barbary Coast in San Francisco. It was the first restaurant in the city to have its kitchen open for display to patrons. This exhibition of Italian-American cooking style, combined with the distinctive red leather seats, cocktails, and Italian food, made Joe’s a culinary landmark. The original restaurant was located at 144 Taylor Street in the Tenderloin up until 2007, when damage from a fire forced the business to close. Funding from the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development enabled the restoration of the iconic sign, and the owners relocated to North Beach in 2012, where the new restaurant is a tribute to the old. The new location, on the corner opposite Washington Square Park, was once home to Fior d'Italia, which bills itself as the oldest Italian restaurant in America.
Location Image Undated photo from the Heritage archive.
Location Image Photo by Jeremy Brooks on Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Eviloars on Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Thomas Hawk on Flickr.
Location Image New location in North Beach. Photo courtesy of SF Eater.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Menu courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
corner
×

Lefty O’Doul’s

Lefty O’Doul’s is a restaurant opened by baseball legend Francis “Lefty” O’Doul. Lefty O’Doul was born in San Francisco and was one of the most influential figures in baseball in the early 20th century. He played professional baseball for a number of teams, ultimately ending up with the New York Giants (predecessor of the San Francisco Giants.) In 1958, after managing the Pacific Coast League San Francisco Seals, he opened a restaurant/ bar called Lefty O’Doul’s. He envisioned that Lefty O’Doul’s would unite players and fans together, creating the ultimate fan experience. Today it still stands as a community gathering place and a tribute to a baseball pioneer. The restaurant serves traditional American food with breakfast, lunch, and dinner options, as well as a cocktail lounge.
Location Image Photo by Roger4336/Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of oddbaseballads.blogspot.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of blogs.sfweekly.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of examiner.com.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Frank "Lefty" O'Doul (1949). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Frank "Lefty" O'Doul and Marilyn Monroe (undated). Photo courtesy of Lefty O'Doul's.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Lefty O'Doul's.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Lefty O'Doul's.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Lefty O'Doul's.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Lefty O'Doul's.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Lefty O'Doul's.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Lefty O'Doul's.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Lefty O'Doul's.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Lefty O'Doul's.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Lefty O'Doul's.
corner
×

House of Shields

Fully restored in 2010, the House of Shields is one of the oldest bars in San Francisco, but its origins are somewhat of a mystery. The building was completed in 1912 and owned by Eddie Shields, but did not officially open as a bar and gentlemen's club until 1944. During prohibition, however, House of Shields served as a speakeasy connected to the Palace Hotel by way of a secret underground tunnel. The House of Shields was a gentlemen’s club for most of its history, as women were not permitted until 1976. The bar was originally intended to be installed at the Palace Hotel, but its size prevented it from fitting through the hotel doors. For many years, the business included a restaurant as well. The 2010 restoration involved wood finishing and a renewal of the original tile flooring, helping to ensure that the House of Shields will endure and continue to write its history as a San Francisco bar.
Location Image View from Mission Street (1985). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Photo courtesy of the House of Shields.
Location Image Photo courtesy of the House of Shields.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of thehouseofshields.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of blogs.sfweekly.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of dwell.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfgate.com.
corner
×

Tadich Grill

Tadich Grill first opened as a coffee stand on Clay Street in 1849 during the California Gold Rush. Croatian immigrants Nikola Budrovich, Frano Kosta, and Antonio Gasparich set up a tent and served fresh fish grilled over charcoal to the merchants, sailors, and argonauts that populated the waterfront. As the neighborhood evolved, the coffee stand (now an iron shanty) relocated to the New World Market, San Francisco's central produce market at Commercial and Leidesdorff streets. As business boomed, the owners renamed the business "New World Coffee Saloon" and moved once more to Commercial and Kearny streets.

In 1887, John Tadich, an immigrant from the Dalmatian region of Croatia and a bartender at the saloon, purchased the establishment and renamed it the "Cold Day Restaurant" in 1882. Following the destruction of the restaurant's home in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, John Tadich reopened his business in a series of locations, settling at 545 Clay Street in 1912 with the name "Tadich Grill." Mr. Tadich sold the restaurant in 1928 to the Buich family, who continues to own and operate the establishment that is best known for serving traditional seafood today. In particular, Louis Buich revived the technique of grilling fish over mesquite charcoal, a traditional Croatian method.

In 1967, the restaurant moved to its current location on California Street after the building on Clay Street was purchased for redevelopment. Renowned for its interior details, including distinctive Art Deco lighting fixtures, the owners took great care to preserve the original atmosphere and design, including relocating the original Clay Street bar to the new location.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Exterior (c. 1957). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Exterior (1973). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Undated photo from the Heritage archive.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Menu courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
corner
×

Old Clam House

The Old Clam House was established in 1861, making it the oldest restaurant in San Francisco to maintain its original location. Initially named "The Oakdale Bar & Clam House," the restaurant served seafood to neighbors, sailors and longshoremen who contributed to San Francisco’s successful fishing industry. When the restaurant first opened, its immediate setting included Islais Creek. In the wake of the 1906 earthquake and subsequent construction, the creek was filled in, with nearly 100 buildings built throughout the neighborhood. Even as its surroundings have evolved, the Old Clam House has maintained its unique historical identity.
Location Image Photo courtesy of the Old Clam House.
Location Image Photo courtesy of the Old Clam House.
Location Image Photo courtesy of the Old Clam House.
Location Image Menu courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
corner
×

House of Prime Rib

The House of Prime Rib was established by Lou Balaski in 1949. The restaurant’s interiors were designed to replicate an English gentlemen’s club. Known for its legendary prime rib, the restaurant has long been a cultural institution in San Francisco, attracting a wide range of patrons. Today, waiter-turned-owner Joe Betz continues the tradition.
Location Image Photo courtesy of foodlibrarian.com.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Chris VerPlanck.
Location Image Photo courtesy of pitch.com.
Location Image Exterior (1986). Courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Twin Peaks Tavern

Twin Peaks Tavern, long distinguished within the Castro as an emblem of community pride, was designated in 2013 as a San Francisco Landmark. Originally built in 1886 and remodeled twice, the building has housed Twin Peaks Tavern since 1935, two years following the repeal of Prohibition. Prior to 1972, when the bar was purchased by a lesbian couple, the establishment was known as a working class Irish bar. Twin Peaks Tavern is the first known gay bar to feature full length open plate glass windows, openly revealing the identities of their patrons. Another important piece of history in the life of the bar is its tie to the Tavern Guild of San Francisco, the first gay business association in the country established to fight corruption against members of the LGBT community. This organization served a critical role in establishing and improving relationships between owners of businesses catering to LGBT residents and the San Francisco Police Department. The guild’s advances of the 1960s enabled the development of an “out” gay bar in the 1970s. Today, the tavern functions as a gateway to the Castro and remains one of only a handful of places in the country to be listed in a local historic register for its association with LGBT history.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of san-francisco.eventseekr.com
Location Image Photo courtesy of tripadvisor.com
Location Image Castro at 17th and Market streets, with Twin Peaks Tavern in background (1944). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image View of Twin Peaks Tavern from Muni entrance (1982). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
corner
×

Wild Side West

Founded by Pat Ramseyer and Nancy White in 1962, the Wild Side bar first debuted in Oakland before moving to San Francisco in 1964. The bar’s new moniker became the Wild Side West, named after the 1962 Barbara Stanwyck film Walk on the Wild Side. While this lesbian bar has become an integral part of the Bernal Heights neighborhood, it wasn’t always so welcome. The establishment was attacked during the 1970s due to anti-lesbian sentiments, with vandals throwing toilets and sinks through the windows. Undeterred, Ramseyer and White transformed the damaged appliances and bar fixtures into works of art that are now displayed in the bar’s beer garden.

Since then, the Wild Side West has been a haven for artists and musicians. Janis Joplin and Bob Dylan frequented the bar for its pool tables, and owner Pat Ramseyer opened the doors to numerous struggling artists. While the establishment is considered one of the few lesbian bars remaining in San Francisco, today the owners consider it to be a "community bar with a lot of lesbians."
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfwiki.org.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Telstar Logistics on Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Magerleagues on Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of Wild Side West.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Whiz Burger

Whiz Burger has been a fixture in the Mission District since its establishment in 1955. Since then, it has been considered one of the few places to order a hearty old-style burger in the area. The restaurant is also the site of an important event in LGBT history. In 1977, City gardener Robert Hillsborough and his friend Jerry Taylor stopped to eat at Whiz burger. They were followed out of the restaurant by four men, who attacked them in the parking lot. While Taylor managed to escape, Hillsborough was killed in the encounter. This tragedy brought the LGBT community together in protest and bolstered their efforts to stand up to prejudice and discrimination.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of blog.sfgate.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sf.eater.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of overprocessed.com.
corner
×

Tosca Café

Tosca Café is a North Beach bar dating back to 1920. The original owners, three Italians who immigrated to San Francisco after World War I, sought to recreate the atmosphere of the bars that they frequented back home. Less than two months after the bar opened, Prohibition went into effect across the U.S. To keep from closing their doors, the owners imported an espresso machine from Italy and began to serve their now famous cappuccinos and White Nuns. For 92 years, the bar has been host to cultural figures such as Francis Ford Coppola, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise, Hunter S. Thompson, a diverse population of sailors, beatniks, hippies, yuppies, grunge, techies, and even Governor Jerry Brown. With swinging doors and arched glass windows, it is certainly one of San Francisco’s most beloved café bars. Tosca was recently purchased by a pair of successful restaurateurs from New York, who are committed to preserving the bar's status as a treasured North Beach watering hole.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Curtis Cronn on Flickr.
Location Image Photo by LCRF on Flickr.
Location Image Photo courtesy of metroactive.com.
corner
×

Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar

In 1929, the Fairmont San Francisco unveiled its elaborately tiled 75-foot indoor swimming pool, known as the “Fairmont Terrace Plunge.” The glamorous setting proved a hit among local patrons, as well as out-of-town celebrities. In 1945, Mel Melvin, one of Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s most accomplished set designers, re-imagined the space as the Tonga Room, transforming the pool into a lagoon complete with a floating stage. Today, the Tonga is celebrated as an icon of tiki pop culture from the 1940s and 50s. Among its defining features are the periodic indoor mild tropical rainstorms and a dance floor constructed from the remnants of the S.S. Forester, a lumber schooner that once traveled back and forth between San Francisco and the South Sea Islands. The menu includes food and drinks with a Southeast Asian influence.
Location Image Courtesy of Chris VerPlanck.
Location Image Courtesy of Chris VerPlanck.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Chris VerPlanck.
Location Image Courtesy of flickriver.com
Location Image Courtesy of tongaroom.com
Location Image Fairmont Hotel swimming pool, prior to conversion (1937). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Courtesy of Chris VerPlanck.
Location Image Courtesy of Chris VerPlanck.
corner
×

Sam Jordan’s Bar

Established in 1959, Sam Jordan’s Bar is a significant community institution in the Bayview neighborhood. Created by boxing champion Sam Jordan, the business occupies an 1880s building located within “Butchertown,” the name once given to the Bayview, as it formerly contained corrals, slaughterhouses, and tanneries. Sam Jordan himself was an African American community leader and proprieter. Often known as “The Mayor of Butchertown” as a result of his strong involvement in the community, he became the first African American candidate for Mayor of San Francisco in 1963. Today, Sam Jordan’s Bar is one of the oldest continuously operating African American businesses along Third Street. The Jordan family continues to own and operate the bar, which routinely serves as a meeting place for the community, charities, and other organizations.
Location Image Photo courtesy of the SF Planning Department.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Unnamed singer performs at Sam Jordan's Bar (1960s). Photo courtesy of the SF Planning Department.
Location Image Left: Ruth Jordan, Sam’s wife, is seated third from the right. Right: Sam Jordan (at right) and family inside the bar. Photo courtesy of the SF Planning Department.
corner
×

Pied Piper Bar and Grill

The Pied Piper Bar & Grill dates back to 1909 with the reopening of the Palace Hotel, which had been closed due to damage caused by the 1906 earthquake and fire. The establishment is named after the Maxfield Parrish painting that was commissioned for the opening of the bar. The painting, "The Pied Piper of Hamelin," is one of only two Parrish barroom artworks in the country, and the only one to remain in its original location. The bar's mosaic tile floor and classic wood paneling also define its historic character. Rumor has it that during the 1908 renovations, the original bar planned for the space could not fit through the doors of the hotel and was therefore purchased by the owner of the pub across the street – the House of Shields.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfpalace.com
Location Image Photo courtesy of sfpalace.com
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image View of the bar and painting (1935). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image View of the Palace Hotel (1951). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Undated photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
corner
×

Taqueria La Cumbre

Micaela and Raul Duran, the original owners of Taqueria La Cumbre, first began selling their now-famous "Mission-style" burritos at the modest lunch counter in the corner of their meat market at 515 Valencia Street in 1969. As the burritos gained in popularity, the couple expanded the market into a restaurant in 1972. Because flour tortillas were not widely available in the early 1970s, the owners hired a young man, Jorge Santana, to make them each morning before attending classes at Mission High School. Jorge would go on to join the popular Latin rock group Malo.

In addition to serving authentic Mexican cuisine for over 40 years, La Cumbre is known for its support of the arts. The restaurant's hand-carved table bases were produced on-site by a Mexican artist in 1967. Muralist David Briseno painted the artwork in the back of the restaurant, which features an Aztec ritual anticipating the arrival of Cortez. Last, but not least, the 100-year-old statue of the Virgin de Guadalupe has resided at the restaurant since the early 1970s, leaving only once for the bicentennial celebration at Mission Dolores in 1986.
Location Image Photo courtesy of blogs.sfweekly.com.
Location Image Photo by CTG/SF on Flickr.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
corner
×

Cliff House

The iconic Cliff House is located on the dramatic cliffs of Ocean Beach, within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Since 1863, the building has undergone four distinct phases. The first Cliff House was built by Senator John Buckley and C. C. Butler. Captain Junius Foster renovated the Cliff House in 1868. The restaurant attracted many people due to its setting and increased traffic from the construction of Geary Boulevard and development of Golden Gate Park. In 1896 Adolph Sutro built a new Cliffhouse known as the “Gingerbread Palace.” This seven story Victorian Chateau overlooked the Sutro Baths that were being constructed at the time. The building would survive the 1906 earthquake, but a fire destroyed the building in 1907. In 1909, Sutro’s daughter, Dr. Emma Merritt, commissioned a new neo-classical building to be built as its replacement. In 1937, George and Leo Whitney bought the Cliff House so it could be featured in their Playland (Playland-at-the-Beach) seaside amusement park. They remodeled the building into an American roadhouse. The building would finally be acquired in 1977 by the National Park Service and restored to its 1909 appearance. Today the Cliff House contains two restaurants, the Cliff House Bistro and Sutro’s, which serve both casual and stylish seasonal local organic food. In more recent news, 2013 marks the 150 year anniversary of the Cliff House in this location.
Location Image First Cliff House (Built 1863). Photo courtesy of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Location Image Second Cliff House (Built 1896). Photo courtesy of the Cliff House.
Location Image Third Cliff House (Built 1909, photo from 1958). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Third Cliff House. Photo courtesy of the Cliff House.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of cliffhouseproject.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of cliffhouseproject.com.
Location Image Sutro Baths and Cliff House postcard. Courtesy of Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Ed Bierman/Flickr.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Ed Bierman/Flickr.
Location Image Postcard courtesy of Jasperdo/Flickr.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Courtesy of Catherine Bauman.
Location Image Menu courtesy of the California Historical Society.
corner
×

Caffe Trieste

Located in North Beach, Caffe Trieste opened in 1956. Owner Giovanni Giotta, who originated from the former Italian city of Rovingo, longed for the espresso houses of Trieste, Italy, so he established his own after immigrating to the United States. Caffe Trieste is credited as the first espresso house on the West Coast, offering also the Mocha and Decaf variety options. The café is very popular with the local Italian community, but its loyal following extends far beyond San Francisco. Caffe Trieste has long been frequented by figures from around the world, including writers from the beat era such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsburg, and Bob Kaufman. Director Francis Ford Coppola reportedly wrote much of the screenplay for "The Godfather" in the café as well. On Thursday nights, Caffe Trieste hosts a concert series.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of purpleroofs.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of sanfranciscosentinel.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of misstracyjo on Flickr.
Location Image View of the counter (1974). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Customers enjoying espresso (1974). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Corner of Grant and Vallejo (1977). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
Location Image Interior (1977). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
corner
×

Buena Vista Café

Buena Vista Café is located in a former boardinghouse and was established in 1916. The original landlord converted the first floor into a saloon and called it “Buena Vista” (Spanish for “Good View”). The saloon became a neighborhood watering hole for local dockworkers and sailors. In 1934, the owners installed the distinctive neon sign. Buena Vista Café is known in particular for its uniquely blended Irish Coffee. In 1952, then-owner Jack Koeppler and Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Stanton Delaplane conspired to recreate a distinctive Irish coffee served at the Shannon Airport in Ireland. The Café continues to serve its famous recipe, which is so popular that up to 2,000 coffees are served each day.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of mistersf.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of martinezfinecoffees.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of thebuenavista.com.
Location Image Bartenders making Irish coffees (1973). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
corner
×

St. Francis Fountain

St. Francis Fountain was founded in 1918 by James Christakes, a Spartan immigrant. The business, which remained in his family for three generations, focused on its confections, ice cream parlor, and its lunch counter. For decades, the bustling eatery hosted workers and families from the local Irish, Italian and German immigrant communities. Legend has it that the Morabito brothers, who owned a nearby lumberyard and frequently lunched there, devised their plan to purchase the 49ers franchise in the late 1940s over a meal at St. Francis Fountain. The Christakes family sold the business in 2000, and in 2002 new owners Peter Hood and Levon Kazarian restored the 1948 dining room and installed a full service kitchen, which supports the popular diner. Hood and Kazarian took great care to preserve the restaurant's vintage aesthetics, including the original candy case, furnishings, and much of the old menu.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of travel.nytimes.com
Location Image Photo courtesy of blogs.sfweekly.com
corner
×

Hotel Utah Saloon

A relic of the Barbary Coast era, Hotel Utah Saloon opened in 1908 with a clientele primarily consisting of gamblers, thieves, ladies of the night, politicians, hustlers, drug addicts, gold seekers, god seekers, charlatans, police, and fancy miscreants – just to name a few of the bar’s colorful regulars! The original owners, the Deininger family, commissioned furniture makers in Belgium to design and create the ornate bar-back. They also served Fredericksburg beer, which was brought to The Utah by horse and carriage and lowered into the cellar in wooden kegs. Completion of the Bay Bridge in 1936 ushered in a new type of clientele from across the bay, including longshoremen, merchants, metal smiths, and furniture makers. In the 1950s, Hotel Utah Saloon bartender-turned-owner Al Opatz renamed the bar Al’s Transbay Tavern and would play host to clients from beat poets to gangsters, as well as celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Bing Crosby. The bar was renamed the Hotel Utah Saloon yet again 1977, when the co-writer of the 1979 movie The Electric Horseman, Paul Gaer, took over the business. Gaer added a new stage where folks like Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and the Pickle Family Circus performed early in their careers.
Location Image Photo courtesy of thehotelutah.com.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of lonesomesurprise.com.
Location Image Photo courtesy of saketvora.com.
corner
×

Balboa Café

One of the oldest operating saloons in the city, Plumpjack Balboa Café was established in 1913 in Marina/Cow Hollow. During Prohibition, the Café hid its secret stash of booze in its inconspicuous kitchen nestled in the rear of the building. This also allowed Café staff to conveniently run to the nearby butcher and stock up on meat needed for its dishes. Today the Café is a popular joint among locals for its inventive American food, drinks, and lively and rustic night atmosphere.
Location Image Photo courtesy of newyorksocialdiary.com.
Location Image Photo by Heritage staff.
Location Image Photo courtesy of fleurdestone.com.
Location Image Balboa Cafe (1987). Photo courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.