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Cioppino at Sotto Mare Sotto Mare

22 Excellent North Beach Restaurants and Bars

From old-school Italian to new-age drinking dens, it’s all here

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Everyone in San Francisco knows North Beach — maybe you’ve browsed in City Lights before a memorably awful dinner at the Stinking Rose with those cousins that came in from out of town. Maybe you could be found frequenting the louder, more raucous bars on Grant Street on Saturday nights.

But there’s another North Beach, one dripping with history and full of locals who have been in the neighborhood since putting down roots decades back. One that still feels like one of the most inspired, magical parts of the city, summer tourist hordes aside. And one that makes you feel like you’re in on some incredible San Francisco secret, when you know the right places to go. So, here are the top bars and restaurants in North Beach, ranging from the oldest of old school to those that are decidedly of the moment.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Freddie's Sandwiches

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300 Francisco St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 433-2882
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Sometimes you just want a good deli sandwich, served without fuss and at a decent price. If that’s what you’re looking for, this Jordanian-Lebanese-owned spot more than gets the job done; it’s also one of only a handful of decent food options in this particular stretch of the North Beach. The Italian combo is up there with the best in the city, but just about any sandwich — from the egg salad to the hot pastrami — is a cut above what you’ll get at many much fancier shops. Everything tastes better on Dutch crunch, naturally.

2. Kennedy's Irish Pub & Curry House

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1040 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 441-8855
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An Irish pub slash Indian restaurant? Oh, indeed. Kennedy’s is the best Irish-Indian, dare we say, fusion spot in town, with a quite respectable draft beer list, an extensive menu of tasty curries, dosas, tandoori, and beyond, and a shockingly expansive (not to mention sumptuously, extensively decorated) space on Columbus. It’s undoubtedly one of the better, more reliable bars for large group gatherings in the neighborhood, if not the city, and tends to feel just chaotic enough to make sense. Food is served late, too, so you can order your beer drinking and curry eating as you prefer. Be sure to check out the sink in the women’s restroom (seriously).

3. The Italian Homemade Company

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716 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 712-8874
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Imagine that your Italian grandmother set up shop on Columbus Avenue with the sole purpose of keeping you fat and happy, but with an eye for 21st century aesthetics. That’s the Italian Homemade Company, a bright-but-cozy storefront specializing in gourmet Italian goods, plus eye-rollingly good prepared food to take away or to to eat at a table by the window with some wine. Choices include consistently excellent fresh pastas — pick your type (pappardelle, gnocchi, ravioli, etc.) and your sauce (butter and sage, bolognese, and more) — giant slabs of lasagna, and piadina, a pliant, yeast-free flatbread filled with salty cold cuts and cheese.

Italian Homemade Company Stefanie Tuder

4. Liguria Bakery

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1700 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 421-3786

Fans have to arrive early to get the goods at Liguria, a 106-year-old San Francisco institution. The family-run bakery specializes in foccacia, and the massive sheets of bread, studded with everything from raisins to olives and even doctored-up, pizza-style, are a wonder of airy, pillowy bread and olive oil richness (their green onion version is what makes the sandwiches at Mario’s so excellent). Grab a piece or 10 to take to the park, or buy it frozen to finish off at home.

5. Mama's

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1701 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 362-6421
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You’ll find lines down the block daily at Mama’s, a legendary brunch spot with an epic wait time to match. The cozy corner restaurant has been keeping the neighborhood in breakfast since the late ’60s, and their sure hand with giant omelettes, loaded Benedicts, and over-the-top French toast speaks to their years of practice. Stop by on a weekday if you can — they serve breakfast all day and you’ll likely sneak in without too long of a wait. Regardless, be sure to visit the Bake Shop, where fresh baked loaf cakes, homemade jam, and other sweets are available to go.

Eater Archives

6. Bodega North Beach

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700 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 634-7002
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While North Beach is best known for its many old school restaurants and bars, Bodega is a new-school wine lover’s dream with a robust list of options by the glass and a solid list of plates to pair including tacos, a burger, and grilled cheese. There are plenty of funky natural wines for fans to explore and the enticing descriptions make it easy to choose even if you don’t know a pet-nat from a petit verdot. Pull up a stool to a community table or the bar and make a game of observing the many dates undoubtedly taking place around the intimate interior. 

7. Victoria Pastry

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700 Filbert St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 781-2015
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Sugar rushes are inevitable at Victoria Pastry, a pusher of the sweet stuff since 1914. Sample neighborhood classics like tiramisu and cannoli, or go big with slices of their rich layer cakes. They’re known for their Easter egg-hued princess cake (layered with raspberry, whipped cream, custard, and triple sec), but don’t skip the fedora — the dense chocolate cake is loaded with chocolate cream and rum. There are a couple tables outside, but these sweets are best enjoyed with a coffee in the park.

8. Little Vine

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1541 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 738-2221
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A pocket-sized shop on the quieter end of Grant Avenue, Little Vine has everything you want and nothing you don’t. A thoughtfully curated selection of cheese, charcuterie, bread, jams, and sweets have the makings of a perfect picnic, with a nice array of wines and beers to pair with them. If you’re not feeling the DIY action, the shop offers a daily changing sandwich during lunch hours, with combinations like Zoe’s pastrami and McVicker’s pickles and La Querica prosciutto, fresh burrata, and quince jam. They host regular wine tastings, too, should you need more reasons to stop by.

9. Tony's Pizza Napoletana

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1570 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 835-9888
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Tony Gemignani’s pizza empire has stretched far beyond North Beach, but its heart and soul remains in the neighborhood. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana continues to pack in the crowds, and with good reason — the extensive menu reads like a crash course in regional pizza styles and history (the limited Napoletana-style margherita is worth the wait, as is the butter-edged Detroit-style square pie). Next door, the Slice House is slinging slices of coal-fired New York and Connecticut-style pies and Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches. Down the street, Capo’s is all about the gut-busting, Chicago-style fare. In brief: When it comes to pizza and its accompaniments, it’s hard to go wrong with any of Gemignani’s restaurants.

Tony’s Pizza Napoletana

10. Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe

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566 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 362-0536
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There are no cigars to be found at this cozy corner cafe, but hot, melty sandwiches on pillowy focaccia are in abundance. A bonafide local joint in the midst of Columbus Avenue’s touristy glut, Mario’s is the kind of place that makes you feel like a regular, and inspires you to become one. Skip straight to the focaccia sandwich section of the menu (though the hot, baked dishes like lasagna and cannelloni aren’t half bad) — they’re made using olive oil-rich focaccia from Liguria Bakery, just across the park. The meatball is legendary, but the eggplant sandwiches (both breaded and grilled) are well worth a taste.

11. Il Pollaio

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555 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 362-7727
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Blink and you’ll miss this no-frills, neighborhood staple on Columbus. Il Pollaio, as the name suggests, specializes in chicken — specifically, juicy, crispy-skinned grilled chicken, available by the half or whole bird. It’s easy to make a meal of chicken alone, but grilled vegetable sides are worth an order, and the French fries are great for soaking up savory chicken drippings. Give the lamb chops or the half rabbit a try if you’re feeling particularly carnivorous.

12. Red Window

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500 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 757-0600
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It’s always sunny at Red Window, the pie-shaped tapas restaurant and bar overlooking the busy intersection of Columbus and Stockton streets. Travel to Spain via food and drink with plates of pintxos like bacalao croquetas and crostini with tuna conserva and a low-proof cocktail or sangria. The brightly colored dining room is cozy day and night and the parklet makes an ideal setting for brunch, served Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

13. Sotto Mare

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552 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 398-3181
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Gigi Fiorucci may no longer hold court at Sotto Mare, but this Green Street seafood restaurant is still one of the finest places in the land for fresh oysters, Louie salads, and sloppy bowls of cioppino, bib required. Make a reservation or prepare to wait for a table or a seat at the bar at this boisterous neighborhood staple — current owners Rich and Laura Azzolino have kept the space exactly the same, including walls laden with celebrity photos and nautical-themed kitsch. The menu is similarly, thankfully, unchanged, and centers around daily fresh catches and San Francisco seafood classics. The aforementioned oysters and cioppino are musts, and the buttery scallops and petrale sole are excellent, too (when available). Be sure to save some of your sourdough bread for sopping up the accompanying sauces and cioppino broth.

Cioppino at Sotto Mare Sotto Mare

14. Golden Boy Pizza

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542 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 982-9738
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This North Beach institution has been serving Sicilian-style pizza since 1978. Bring cash, wait out the line, and order a hefty square of pizza to enjoy at the bar. A couple of plain cheese slices make for an inexpensive and fairly unimpeachable lunch. The version topped with a ton of chopped garlic and clams? It might very well make your entire week.

15. Barbara Pinseria & Cocktail Bar

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431 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 445-3009
Visit Website

This offshoot of nearby Il Casaro specializes in pinsas, or pizza-like oblong flatbreads, topped with everything from egg and truffle spread to tomato sauce and burrata, and served in a sunny, cheerful dining room in the heart of North Beach. There’s also a full menu of antipasti and classic pastas like spaghetti vongole and bucatini amatriciana — and, next door at counter-service-only Barbara Express, there’s square slices of Roman-style pizza al taglio, cut with scissors and sold by the ounce.

16. Caffe Trieste

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601 Vallejo St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 982-2605
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As North Beach staples go, Trieste is almost unbeatable — the storied corner cafe claims to have been the very first Italian-style espresso house on the West Coast when it opened in 1956. Its timing was fortuitous — Trieste became a gathering place for poets, artists, musicians, and the Beat scene at large. Grab a cappuccino and get working on your next novel (you’ll be in good company — Francis Ford Coppola reputedly wrote the script for The Godfather here, and still sometimes frequents the cafe). Stop by on Saturday afternoons for live music.

Eater Archives

17. Buster's Cheese Steak

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366 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 392-2800
Visit Website

Perhaps the only spot in SF that really gets Philadelphia cheesesteak culture in all of its unfussy, best-after-midnight, unapologetically artery-clogging glory. The cooks here work magic with metal spatulas and a hot flat-top, and while they’ll serve you a slightly gussied up version if you request it, the basic Philly cheesesteak has everything you need: the grilled onions, the heaping pile of meat, and your cheese of choice (Whiz is the correct answer).

18. Molinari Delicatessen

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373 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 421-2337
Visit Website

Satiate your cravings for loaded Italian sandwiches at Molinari, a veritable temple of cured meats, cheeses, and olive oil–soaked condiments. The old school deli is a prime spot to load up for a Washington Square Park picnic — grab a number, pick your bread, and watch the sandwich magic happen. It’s hard to go wrong with the Renzo Special, a loaded combination of prosciutto, coppa (hot or not), milky fresh mozzarella, and sweet sun-dried tomatoes, though some swear by the chicken parmesan and the grilled focaccia sandwiches. They’ve got fresh pasta on offer, too, along with pre-made lasagna and eggplant parmesan to cook up at home.

19. Il Casaro Pizzeria

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348 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 677-9455
Visit Website

One of the newer entries in the North Beach pizza scene, Il Casaro has quickly become a favorite thanks to their airy-crusted, leopard-spotted Neapolitan-style pizzas, bright space, and focus on milky, creamy fresh mozzarella (il casaro means “the cheesemaker”). The pizzas are a must-order, of course — the eponymous Il Casaro with grana padano, mozzarella, mushrooms, and prosciutto is excellent, as is the classic margherita — but it’s worth saving room for antipasti like roasted cauliflower with garlic, capers, and Calabrian chile, and fried “Cibo de Strata” or street food, like fried fior di latte mozzarella and potato croquettes stuffed with ’nduja.

20. 15 Romolo

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15 Romolo Pl
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 398-1359
Visit Website

As alleyway bars go, 15 Romolo sets a nearly unbeatable gold standard — the former Basque Hotel is still churning out some of the greatest cocktails in the city, with knockout food offerings to match. Usually, it’s wise to keep it straightforward with a Sleepy Jean (chamomile-infused bourbon, nectarine compote, lemon, and bitters) and a burger, or dig deeper into the bar’s excellent sherry offerings, available as flights or suggested pairings with dishes like smoked paprika-kissed octopus and duroc pork belly. The cozy, low-lit space is easily one of the sexier date night spots out there. A real-deal jukebox and a photobooth don’t hurt things, either.

21. Tosca Cafe

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242 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 986-9651
Visit Website

101 year-old Tosca Cafe, the historic Italian-American restaurant and bar in North Beach, reopened in November 2020 with prix fixe dinner menus of Tuscan fried chicken, shaved truffle pasta, and of course, its famous “house cappuccino.” Known for its century-old bar and classic back room, Tosca now boasts a cozy, heated parklet outside, perfect for oysters and spritzes, and it’s currently open for outdoor dining, including weekend dinners and brunch on Sundays.

22. Vesuvio Cafe

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255 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 362-3370
Visit Website

Channel your inner Beatnik and throw back a few at Vesuvio, a two-level bar that’s been slinging drinks since 1948. Kerouac himself was known to spend considerable time at Vesuvio (and missed meeting with Henry Miller because of it, so they say), and the bar maintains its no-frills charm when it’s not slammed with tourists. Vesuvio is best on weeknights — grab a table in the upstairs window and let your poetic inclinations take over.

Eater Archives

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1. Freddie's Sandwiches

300 Francisco St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Sometimes you just want a good deli sandwich, served without fuss and at a decent price. If that’s what you’re looking for, this Jordanian-Lebanese-owned spot more than gets the job done; it’s also one of only a handful of decent food options in this particular stretch of the North Beach. The Italian combo is up there with the best in the city, but just about any sandwich — from the egg salad to the hot pastrami — is a cut above what you’ll get at many much fancier shops. Everything tastes better on Dutch crunch, naturally.

300 Francisco St
San Francisco, CA 94133

2. Kennedy's Irish Pub & Curry House

1040 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

An Irish pub slash Indian restaurant? Oh, indeed. Kennedy’s is the best Irish-Indian, dare we say, fusion spot in town, with a quite respectable draft beer list, an extensive menu of tasty curries, dosas, tandoori, and beyond, and a shockingly expansive (not to mention sumptuously, extensively decorated) space on Columbus. It’s undoubtedly one of the better, more reliable bars for large group gatherings in the neighborhood, if not the city, and tends to feel just chaotic enough to make sense. Food is served late, too, so you can order your beer drinking and curry eating as you prefer. Be sure to check out the sink in the women’s restroom (seriously).

1040 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

3. The Italian Homemade Company

716 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Italian Homemade Company Stefanie Tuder

Imagine that your Italian grandmother set up shop on Columbus Avenue with the sole purpose of keeping you fat and happy, but with an eye for 21st century aesthetics. That’s the Italian Homemade Company, a bright-but-cozy storefront specializing in gourmet Italian goods, plus eye-rollingly good prepared food to take away or to to eat at a table by the window with some wine. Choices include consistently excellent fresh pastas — pick your type (pappardelle, gnocchi, ravioli, etc.) and your sauce (butter and sage, bolognese, and more) — giant slabs of lasagna, and piadina, a pliant, yeast-free flatbread filled with salty cold cuts and cheese.

716 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

4. Liguria Bakery

1700 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Fans have to arrive early to get the goods at Liguria, a 106-year-old San Francisco institution. The family-run bakery specializes in foccacia, and the massive sheets of bread, studded with everything from raisins to olives and even doctored-up, pizza-style, are a wonder of airy, pillowy bread and olive oil richness (their green onion version is what makes the sandwiches at Mario’s so excellent). Grab a piece or 10 to take to the park, or buy it frozen to finish off at home.

1700 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133

5. Mama's

1701 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Eater Archives

You’ll find lines down the block daily at Mama’s, a legendary brunch spot with an epic wait time to match. The cozy corner restaurant has been keeping the neighborhood in breakfast since the late ’60s, and their sure hand with giant omelettes, loaded Benedicts, and over-the-top French toast speaks to their years of practice. Stop by on a weekday if you can — they serve breakfast all day and you’ll likely sneak in without too long of a wait. Regardless, be sure to visit the Bake Shop, where fresh baked loaf cakes, homemade jam, and other sweets are available to go.

1701 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133

6. Bodega North Beach

700 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

While North Beach is best known for its many old school restaurants and bars, Bodega is a new-school wine lover’s dream with a robust list of options by the glass and a solid list of plates to pair including tacos, a burger, and grilled cheese. There are plenty of funky natural wines for fans to explore and the enticing descriptions make it easy to choose even if you don’t know a pet-nat from a petit verdot. Pull up a stool to a community table or the bar and make a game of observing the many dates undoubtedly taking place around the intimate interior. 

700 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

7. Victoria Pastry

700 Filbert St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Sugar rushes are inevitable at Victoria Pastry, a pusher of the sweet stuff since 1914. Sample neighborhood classics like tiramisu and cannoli, or go big with slices of their rich layer cakes. They’re known for their Easter egg-hued princess cake (layered with raspberry, whipped cream, custard, and triple sec), but don’t skip the fedora — the dense chocolate cake is loaded with chocolate cream and rum. There are a couple tables outside, but these sweets are best enjoyed with a coffee in the park.

700 Filbert St
San Francisco, CA 94133

8. Little Vine

1541 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

A pocket-sized shop on the quieter end of Grant Avenue, Little Vine has everything you want and nothing you don’t. A thoughtfully curated selection of cheese, charcuterie, bread, jams, and sweets have the makings of a perfect picnic, with a nice array of wines and beers to pair with them. If you’re not feeling the DIY action, the shop offers a daily changing sandwich during lunch hours, with combinations like Zoe’s pastrami and McVicker’s pickles and La Querica prosciutto, fresh burrata, and quince jam. They host regular wine tastings, too, should you need more reasons to stop by.

1541 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

9. Tony's Pizza Napoletana

1570 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana

Tony Gemignani’s pizza empire has stretched far beyond North Beach, but its heart and soul remains in the neighborhood. Tony’s Pizza Napoletana continues to pack in the crowds, and with good reason — the extensive menu reads like a crash course in regional pizza styles and history (the limited Napoletana-style margherita is worth the wait, as is the butter-edged Detroit-style square pie). Next door, the Slice House is slinging slices of coal-fired New York and Connecticut-style pies and Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches. Down the street, Capo’s is all about the gut-busting, Chicago-style fare. In brief: When it comes to pizza and its accompaniments, it’s hard to go wrong with any of Gemignani’s restaurants.

1570 Stockton St
San Francisco, CA 94133

10. Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe

566 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

There are no cigars to be found at this cozy corner cafe, but hot, melty sandwiches on pillowy focaccia are in abundance. A bonafide local joint in the midst of Columbus Avenue’s touristy glut, Mario’s is the kind of place that makes you feel like a regular, and inspires you to become one. Skip straight to the focaccia sandwich section of the menu (though the hot, baked dishes like lasagna and cannelloni aren’t half bad) — they’re made using olive oil-rich focaccia from Liguria Bakery, just across the park. The meatball is legendary, but the eggplant sandwiches (both breaded and grilled) are well worth a taste.

566 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

11. Il Pollaio

555 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

Blink and you’ll miss this no-frills, neighborhood staple on Columbus. Il Pollaio, as the name suggests, specializes in chicken — specifically, juicy, crispy-skinned grilled chicken, available by the half or whole bird. It’s easy to make a meal of chicken alone, but grilled vegetable sides are worth an order, and the French fries are great for soaking up savory chicken drippings. Give the lamb chops or the half rabbit a try if you’re feeling particularly carnivorous.

555 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

12. Red Window

500 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

It’s always sunny at Red Window, the pie-shaped tapas restaurant and bar overlooking the busy intersection of Columbus and Stockton streets. Travel to Spain via food and drink with plates of pintxos like bacalao croquetas and crostini with tuna conserva and a low-proof cocktail or sangria. The brightly colored dining room is cozy day and night and the parklet makes an ideal setting for brunch, served Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

500 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

13. Sotto Mare

552 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Cioppino at Sotto Mare Sotto Mare

Gigi Fiorucci may no longer hold court at Sotto Mare, but this Green Street seafood restaurant is still one of the finest places in the land for fresh oysters, Louie salads, and sloppy bowls of cioppino, bib required. Make a reservation or prepare to wait for a table or a seat at the bar at this boisterous neighborhood staple — current owners Rich and Laura Azzolino have kept the space exactly the same, including walls laden with celebrity photos and nautical-themed kitsch. The menu is similarly, thankfully, unchanged, and centers around daily fresh catches and San Francisco seafood classics. The aforementioned oysters and cioppino are musts, and the buttery scallops and petrale sole are excellent, too (when available). Be sure to save some of your sourdough bread for sopping up the accompanying sauces and cioppino broth.

552 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133

14. Golden Boy Pizza

542 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

This North Beach institution has been serving Sicilian-style pizza since 1978. Bring cash, wait out the line, and order a hefty square of pizza to enjoy at the bar. A couple of plain cheese slices make for an inexpensive and fairly unimpeachable lunch. The version topped with a ton of chopped garlic and clams? It might very well make your entire week.

542 Green St
San Francisco, CA 94133

15. Barbara Pinseria & Cocktail Bar

431 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

This offshoot of nearby Il Casaro specializes in pinsas, or pizza-like oblong flatbreads, topped with everything from egg and truffle spread to tomato sauce and burrata, and served in a sunny, cheerful dining room in the heart of North Beach. There’s also a full menu of antipasti and classic pastas like spaghetti vongole and bucatini amatriciana — and, next door at counter-service-only Barbara Express, there’s square slices of Roman-style pizza al taglio, cut with scissors and sold by the ounce.

431 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

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16. Caffe Trieste

601 Vallejo St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Eater Archives

As North Beach staples go, Trieste is almost unbeatable — the storied corner cafe claims to have been the very first Italian-style espresso house on the West Coast when it opened in 1956. Its timing was fortuitous — Trieste became a gathering place for poets, artists, musicians, and the Beat scene at large. Grab a cappuccino and get working on your next novel (you’ll be in good company — Francis Ford Coppola reputedly wrote the script for The Godfather here, and still sometimes frequents the cafe). Stop by on Saturday afternoons for live music.

601 Vallejo St
San Francisco, CA 94133

17. Buster's Cheese Steak

366 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

Perhaps the only spot in SF that really gets Philadelphia cheesesteak culture in all of its unfussy, best-after-midnight, unapologetically artery-clogging glory. The cooks here work magic with metal spatulas and a hot flat-top, and while they’ll serve you a slightly gussied up version if you request it, the basic Philly cheesesteak has everything you need: the grilled onions, the heaping pile of meat, and your cheese of choice (Whiz is the correct answer).

366 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

18. Molinari Delicatessen

373 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

Satiate your cravings for loaded Italian sandwiches at Molinari, a veritable temple of cured meats, cheeses, and olive oil–soaked condiments. The old school deli is a prime spot to load up for a Washington Square Park picnic — grab a number, pick your bread, and watch the sandwich magic happen. It’s hard to go wrong with the Renzo Special, a loaded combination of prosciutto, coppa (hot or not), milky fresh mozzarella, and sweet sun-dried tomatoes, though some swear by the chicken parmesan and the grilled focaccia sandwiches. They’ve got fresh pasta on offer, too, along with pre-made lasagna and eggplant parmesan to cook up at home.

373 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

19. Il Casaro Pizzeria

348 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

One of the newer entries in the North Beach pizza scene, Il Casaro has quickly become a favorite thanks to their airy-crusted, leopard-spotted Neapolitan-style pizzas, bright space, and focus on milky, creamy fresh mozzarella (il casaro means “the cheesemaker”). The pizzas are a must-order, of course — the eponymous Il Casaro with grana padano, mozzarella, mushrooms, and prosciutto is excellent, as is the classic margherita — but it’s worth saving room for antipasti like roasted cauliflower with garlic, capers, and Calabrian chile, and fried “Cibo de Strata” or street food, like fried fior di latte mozzarella and potato croquettes stuffed with ’nduja.

348 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

20. 15 Romolo

15 Romolo Pl, San Francisco, CA 94133

As alleyway bars go, 15 Romolo sets a nearly unbeatable gold standard — the former Basque Hotel is still churning out some of the greatest cocktails in the city, with knockout food offerings to match. Usually, it’s wise to keep it straightforward with a Sleepy Jean (chamomile-infused bourbon, nectarine compote, lemon, and bitters) and a burger, or dig deeper into the bar’s excellent sherry offerings, available as flights or suggested pairings with dishes like smoked paprika-kissed octopus and duroc pork belly. The cozy, low-lit space is easily one of the sexier date night spots out there. A real-deal jukebox and a photobooth don’t hurt things, either.

15 Romolo Pl
San Francisco, CA 94133

21. Tosca Cafe

242 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

101 year-old Tosca Cafe, the historic Italian-American restaurant and bar in North Beach, reopened in November 2020 with prix fixe dinner menus of Tuscan fried chicken, shaved truffle pasta, and of course, its famous “house cappuccino.” Known for its century-old bar and classic back room, Tosca now boasts a cozy, heated parklet outside, perfect for oysters and spritzes, and it’s currently open for outdoor dining, including weekend dinners and brunch on Sundays.

242 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

22. Vesuvio Cafe

255 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
Eater Archives

Channel your inner Beatnik and throw back a few at Vesuvio, a two-level bar that’s been slinging drinks since 1948. Kerouac himself was known to spend considerable time at Vesuvio (and missed meeting with Henry Miller because of it, so they say), and the bar maintains its no-frills charm when it’s not slammed with tourists. Vesuvio is best on weeknights — grab a table in the upstairs window and let your poetic inclinations take over.

255 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133

Related Maps