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Where to Eat and Drink in Cole Valley

A vetted guide to dining and drinking in the neighborhood, beyond just Zazie

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The people who live in Cole Valley love it because it feels like a friendly little village hidden in the middle of San Francisco. There are only a few blocks of shops and restaurants, but somehow everything one could ever need is still right there, including just enough options for a killer cocktail, strong cup of coffee, or a great meal.

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Bacon Bacon

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Technically Bacon Bacon is just a few blocks up from Cole Valley in Ashbury Heights, but to leave the brick and mortar location of this famous SF food truck off this list would be criminal. The cafe is small — you can walk right by and miss it — but the food that comes out is big in every way. Breakfast is served all day, filling a niche for when you just need your morning meal a little later in the day. Not every dish is a gut bomb (there are salads!) either, so there's really something for everyone.

The Ice Cream Bar

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Step back in time to a 1930s style soda fountain and lunch counter where everything from the ice cream to the soda syrups to the sandwich breads are made in house. All of the ice cream flavors are worth trying, but if it's available, every Cole Valley resident will tell you the roasted pineapple is a must order. Bonus: If you're over 21, you'll be happy to know Ice Cream Bar serves up boozy "remedies" as well as wine and beer.

Reverie Cafe

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There's so much to love about this neighborhood cafe: the bi-level garden patio, the friendly vibe, the salads, paninis, and omelets, the fact that you can get a great cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or a cold beer, and the reasonable prices.

Say Cheese

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This long-standing shop is a haven for cheese lovers; you can find all the finest cheeses, European wines, and heritage charcuterie that you can possibly imagine. While you're there stocking up on those, be sure to order one of the specialty sandwiches on Dutch crunch to tide you over until cocktail hour — they're the best sandwiches in the neighborhood.

Beit Rima

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The second outpost of Palestinian and Jordanian comfort food restaurant Beit Rima opened here in 2019, when the space, formerly home to Cole Valley institution Burgermeister, changed hands from father to son. Beit Rima draws crowds for muhummara, fattoush, and fresh, hand-kneaded bread — all served at reasonable prices in a casual, homey setting.

Crepes on Cole

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If you don't have a lot of time to linger over your meal, Crepes on Cole is a good option for reasonably affordable food (some dishes feel a little overpriced) that gets the job done. The menu is extensive and can be hit-or-miss, but the French toast is always a safe bet, as are most of the sandwiches.

Padrecito

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Padrecito is a neighborhood Mexican institution, serving thoughtful cocktails with an emphasis on mezcal and tequila and creative tacos like duck enmermelada and Tecate-battered rock cod. It’s also a solid option for brunch when the line at Zazie is just too long to bear. Note that as of August 2021, Padrecito requires all guests over the age of 16 must be vaccinated to dine indoors.

InoVino

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Italian wines are front and center at this intimate neighborhood wine bar that's as perfect for a first date as it is a fiftieth. Selections are fit for any level of wine appreciator, with a range that’s surprisingly affordable yet consistent with Italian quality standards. If the sun’s out, sit outside and partake in a full menu of Italian staples — arancini, fresh pastas, and pinsettas. 

Finnegans Wake

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This half-century old Cole Valley institution used to be Maud’s, the self-proclaimed longest-running lesbian bar in the U.S. The Bloody Mary is a great way to start the day, and there are plenty of TVs to watch whatever game is on. There's also a pool table, a decent jukebox, and a great space out back to chill in the sun or play ping pong. Note: As of July 30, 2021, Finnegans Wake is requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry.

Cole Valley’s longstanding French cafe Zazie's is famous brunch, and for good reason: The breakfast dishes here are some of the best in town, not to mention that it can (and should) all be enjoyed on the charming (and heated) back patio. And though brunch is the hero of Zazie, the food also shines at dinner when the menu is decidedly more French and, if possible, even more decadent.

Kamekyo

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The sushi bar is the place to sit at this friendly neighborhood sushi spot. Though this is a no-frills spot, it can be a little pricey, which is why it's always a bit of a shock to see it bustling with children in the early evening. If that's not your thing, just go a little later.

Bambino's Ristorante

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Bambino's is definitely Cole Valley's sleeper restaurant, probably in part because it's just two doors down from the uber-popular Zazie. But there's a reason this Italian restaurant has survived — and thrived — in the neighborhood for 35 years. The menu is extensive and the portions are enormous, so be prepared to do a lot of sharing. Not in the mood to eat out? Bambino's pizza travels very well. Brunch is also underrated and an excellent option for when you're too hangry to wait for Zazie.

Bacon Bacon

Technically Bacon Bacon is just a few blocks up from Cole Valley in Ashbury Heights, but to leave the brick and mortar location of this famous SF food truck off this list would be criminal. The cafe is small — you can walk right by and miss it — but the food that comes out is big in every way. Breakfast is served all day, filling a niche for when you just need your morning meal a little later in the day. Not every dish is a gut bomb (there are salads!) either, so there's really something for everyone.

The Ice Cream Bar

Step back in time to a 1930s style soda fountain and lunch counter where everything from the ice cream to the soda syrups to the sandwich breads are made in house. All of the ice cream flavors are worth trying, but if it's available, every Cole Valley resident will tell you the roasted pineapple is a must order. Bonus: If you're over 21, you'll be happy to know Ice Cream Bar serves up boozy "remedies" as well as wine and beer.

Reverie Cafe

There's so much to love about this neighborhood cafe: the bi-level garden patio, the friendly vibe, the salads, paninis, and omelets, the fact that you can get a great cup of coffee, a glass of wine, or a cold beer, and the reasonable prices.

Say Cheese

This long-standing shop is a haven for cheese lovers; you can find all the finest cheeses, European wines, and heritage charcuterie that you can possibly imagine. While you're there stocking up on those, be sure to order one of the specialty sandwiches on Dutch crunch to tide you over until cocktail hour — they're the best sandwiches in the neighborhood.

Beit Rima

The second outpost of Palestinian and Jordanian comfort food restaurant Beit Rima opened here in 2019, when the space, formerly home to Cole Valley institution Burgermeister, changed hands from father to son. Beit Rima draws crowds for muhummara, fattoush, and fresh, hand-kneaded bread — all served at reasonable prices in a casual, homey setting.

Crepes on Cole

If you don't have a lot of time to linger over your meal, Crepes on Cole is a good option for reasonably affordable food (some dishes feel a little overpriced) that gets the job done. The menu is extensive and can be hit-or-miss, but the French toast is always a safe bet, as are most of the sandwiches.

Padrecito

Padrecito is a neighborhood Mexican institution, serving thoughtful cocktails with an emphasis on mezcal and tequila and creative tacos like duck enmermelada and Tecate-battered rock cod. It’s also a solid option for brunch when the line at Zazie is just too long to bear. Note that as of August 2021, Padrecito requires all guests over the age of 16 must be vaccinated to dine indoors.

InoVino

Italian wines are front and center at this intimate neighborhood wine bar that's as perfect for a first date as it is a fiftieth. Selections are fit for any level of wine appreciator, with a range that’s surprisingly affordable yet consistent with Italian quality standards. If the sun’s out, sit outside and partake in a full menu of Italian staples — arancini, fresh pastas, and pinsettas. 

Finnegans Wake

This half-century old Cole Valley institution used to be Maud’s, the self-proclaimed longest-running lesbian bar in the U.S. The Bloody Mary is a great way to start the day, and there are plenty of TVs to watch whatever game is on. There's also a pool table, a decent jukebox, and a great space out back to chill in the sun or play ping pong. Note: As of July 30, 2021, Finnegans Wake is requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for entry.

Zazie

Cole Valley’s longstanding French cafe Zazie's is famous brunch, and for good reason: The breakfast dishes here are some of the best in town, not to mention that it can (and should) all be enjoyed on the charming (and heated) back patio. And though brunch is the hero of Zazie, the food also shines at dinner when the menu is decidedly more French and, if possible, even more decadent.

Kamekyo

The sushi bar is the place to sit at this friendly neighborhood sushi spot. Though this is a no-frills spot, it can be a little pricey, which is why it's always a bit of a shock to see it bustling with children in the early evening. If that's not your thing, just go a little later.

Bambino's Ristorante

Bambino's is definitely Cole Valley's sleeper restaurant, probably in part because it's just two doors down from the uber-popular Zazie. But there's a reason this Italian restaurant has survived — and thrived — in the neighborhood for 35 years. The menu is extensive and the portions are enormous, so be prepared to do a lot of sharing. Not in the mood to eat out? Bambino's pizza travels very well. Brunch is also underrated and an excellent option for when you're too hangry to wait for Zazie.

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