DiningNew restaurants replace old in North Beach at such a rate that we hesitate to even tell you about the old stand-bys for fear they'll disappear before you get there, but we'll do it anyway. If you pass something new and interesting, full of people and with a good review posted in the window, don't hesitate to try it.
Breakfast in North BeachThe line outside the door makes it clear that Mama's serves North Beach's undisputed best breakfast. They're at the corner of Filbert and Stockton, and are closed on Mondays.
Lunch in North BeachMario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe is wedged into a corner shop just off Washington Square. We like their meatball sandwich on focaccia bread and the grilled eggplant sandwich. North Beach Pizza (1499 Grant) serves some of the city's best pizzas. Don't get carried away. Their small pizza is usually enough for two.
Dinner in North BeachA few old-style Italian restaurants remain. Try the Sicilian cuisine and take in the Old World decor at Caffe Sport (574 Green) while you still can. Trattoria Contadina, well known by locals and found by few tourists is just a block off Columbus on Mason. They've served good, authentic Italian food since 1983. Other good Italian choices in the North Beach area include Piazza Pelligrini (659 Columbus) and Firenze by Night (1429 Stockton). Long-time San Francisco favorite Fior d'Italia has moved down near Fisherman's Wharf at 2237 Mason Street.
A little bit outside the main part of North Beach, but well worth the short walk to find it is Albona Ristorante (545 Francisco), serving superb cuisine from Istria in Italy's northeast corner.
Dessert in North BeachStella Pasticceria e Caffe (446 Columbus) serves terrific tiramisu and Sacripantina cake, a favorite of Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti. Cafe Jacqueline serves great dessert souffles. Call ahead about an hour and they'll be ready when you arrive.
North Beach at NightNorth Beach grows more lively at night. The people-watching is excellent, but if you're looking for something a little more organized, you may enjoy:
- Beach Blanket BabylonFollow the adventures of Snow White as she travels the world looking for her prince, in this long-running show. She meets some amusing characters along the way, and the oversized hats are legendary.
- Famous Watering Holes: Specs Adler's, Tosca and Vesuvio's, all near the intersection of Columbus and Broadway, are some of the area's most famous bars.
- Jazz at Pearl's: It's no longer a supper club, but they have good jazz performances in an intimate venue.
Coffee ShopsOn Saturday afternoons, Caffe Trieste, the West Coast's first espresso coffee house, serves up generous portions of opera with their Italian-style coffee, which we think is the city's best.
Caffe Roma is owned by the Azzolini family, coffee roasters for three generations. After you've tasted their coffee, you'll be glad to know that you can order their coffee beans online.
XOX Truffles was named one of the top ten chocolatiers in the United States by Chocolatier magazine. Stop by and say hello to Jean-Marc Gorce, and sample his authentic French truffles with a cup of Graffeo coffee. We recommend Casimira's Favorite, named for his wife.