A Guide to Exploring Food + Drinks In San Francisco’s North Beach

Photo of city skyscrape with 3 wharves coming off of it into the ocean water.

Ah, San Francisco’s North Beach. It’s one of my favorite San Francisco neighborhoods – a vibrant neighborhood with a European feel. People come for the food and stay for the drinks and cool vibe.

Below we’ve detailed a few of our favorite must-visit Italian eateries and bars.

Stuffed from all of the mouth-watering food and drinks? Don’t worry – here are plenty of other things to enjoy in this colorful and history-filled neighborhood.

Caffe Trieste

But first, coffee. 

Photo Credit: IG @yafang0814

To start your day, take a stop at the very first espresso coffee house on the West Coast. Founded in 1956, by “Papa Gianna” Giotta and his family. Fun fact: Francis Ford Coppola wrote much of the Godfather from here.

Tip: Cafe Grecko is right around the corner and another great option for delicious coffee and pastries. They’re cash only.

My latte and banana nut bread at Cafe Grecho.

Liguria Bakery

On the corner of Filbert & Stockton Street, you’ll find what many people think is the best focaccia in the city. This is the only thing they offer here – it’s that good.

Founded in 1911, the bakery is still run by the same family, making it one of the oldest businesses in North Beach. While you can’t go wrong, the plain and the pizza focaccia are usually the most popular. 

Warning: they often sell out in the afternoon!

Molinari Delicatessen

Once you’re ready for lunch, head over to Molinari’s Deli, a longtime favorite.

Opened in 1896, Molinari’s has served up gourmet Italian sandwiches for over 12 decades.

Try the Luciano Special with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, coppa, and sun-dried tomatoes on grilled focaccia. For your more typical Italian sub, you can’t go wrong with the Molinari Special Combo. While there, leave time to browse the Italian specialty items on offer, many of which you can’t find anywhere else in the city.

Looking for a place to stay in North Beach? I recently stayed at Hotel Boheme, very centrally located, and relatively affordably priced.

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana

Look no further than Tony’s for the best pizza in the neighborhood (and maybe the entire city?). Owner Tony is the first American to win the ​​World Champion Pizza Maker title in Naples.

They have 12 styles of pizza, cooked at seven different temperatures. The science of pizza here can be so specific that some pizzas have their own dedicated oven.

Want to hear more about Tony’s Pizza? I can’t blame you. It’s the BEST.

One of the best ways to discover the best places in an area is through a food tour. If you want to get to know both North Beach and Chinatown this tour covers both. Coffee, pastries, and dim sum? Yes please!

Vesuvio Cafe

After spending the day exploring San Francisco’s North Beach, it’s time to relax at the neighborhood’s most famous bar. Vesuvio Cafe, established in 1948, has always attracted a creative crowd. During the height of the Beat Generation, this was the place to be, whether to write, mingle, do a poetry reading, or just revel into the wee hours of the night. 

Order the Jack Kerouac, served just the way Jack liked it, with a mix of tequila, rum, orange, and cranberry juice. Another tasty choice is the Bohemian Coffee, with brandy, amaretto, and a twist of lemon. While this is technically a bar, it’s more of a public living room for patrons of the area. Hungry? Vesuvio doesn’t serve food, but they also don’t mind if you bring your own. So pick up something from nearby, get comfortable, and stay awhile.

Tosca

The 102-year old Tosca is a San Francisco staple. It’s gone through a few ownership changes in the last few years, but remains is the dark cool vibe that has brought many celebrities to enjoy drinks at the bar. Have their Negroni- you won’t regret it. Unless you drink too many of them, of course.

North Beach Tours:

Author

  • I am a mom of 2 who travels a lot for work (I work in the event/conference/tradeshow industry). I grew up  and currently live in Northern California.