Serving breakfast all day, with a variety of fat burgers, sandwiches, salads, pasta, steaks, and crab cakes, and famed for its Irish coffees, a stop at the Buena Vista is a classic San Francisco activity for visitors—the cable car stops right outside. Buena Vista means “good view” in Spanish, and this classic certainly lives up to its name. Converted from a boarding house to a saloon in 1916, the setting was the perfect place for fishermen and dockworkers to take a break while watching the bay, literally, “for their ships to come in.” When the fishing boats arrived, they could chug their drinks and quickly run down the hill to get back to work.
Grab an empty space at one of the large round communal tables by the window and laugh as 20-year veteran waitress Katherine flings napkins at you and scowls if, heaven forbid, you dare not order their famed Irish Coffee—a “national institution,” for it was here, in 1952, that the first Irish coffee was crafted here by owner, Jack Koeppler, and Pulitzer Prize–winning travel writer Stanton Delaplane.
- Erika Lennert