The very first time I went to the Buena Vista Cafe was on my very first trip to San Francisco back in 1985. I was in San Francisco (actually across the bay in San Leandro) teaching a sales class of 7 new sales reps from our San Francisco office. One of my students was from Sacramento and on Friday night we decided to take a ferry to Sausalito for dinner. After dinner, we came back into the City and saw a lot of people in the Buena Vista. We went in and thinking positively I imagined a table opening up for us to sit at. Lo and behold a table of 4 opened up almost at that exact moment and we sat down on one side and another couple sat down on the other.
For the next several hours we enjoyed the company of a couple from Vancouver, BC who were down in San Francisco for the weekend. I still remember that he was a professor at a University in Vancouver, so we had at least the teaching part in common. I know I also had 4 of their Irish Coffees which went down really smooth and obviously helped to make the evening that much better. Departing sometime after midnight (had the last day of class the next morning starting at 9:00 a.m.) we took the cable car back to where we had parked the car that my student had driven.
I noticed while I was there that they also served breakfast, so 2 days later before I had to head to the airport to catch my flight back to Chicago, I took the first cable car on a Sunday morning from Market Street all the way over to the end and enjoyed French Toast done with Sour Dough Bread (actually my first exposure to that wonderful tasting bread).
Which brings us up to my next visit to the Buena Vista, which was on our current trip to California. Even though I had been back to the Bay Area many times in the 80's and 90's and even though I had taken Sue with me one time for a long weekend before the start of a business trip, I had never made it back. This time though on our last night in town and Sue walking with a limp (she's still not sure how she hurt her leg), we took a cable car over to the Buena Vista for a visit and so that I could have Sue taste their Irish Coffee. We ordered our coffees and then saw a young lady next to us eating a dessert. We started talking to her and she mentioned that she was in town from Utah and at a conference and was exploring the city on her own. For a dessert she had ordered a decadent looking bread pudding with rum and raisins. We ordered our own and I had downed the first Irish Coffee so quickly that of course I needed another.
Bottom line if you are in town and looking for a great way to cap off the night head over to the Buena Vista for that memorable Irish Coffee and now I can also recommend having a dessert to go along as well.
Hours are until 2:00 a.m. every evening.
Dress Code: Come as you are. But if you're smart you know that San Francisco and shorts don't mix really well, especially in the middle of summer. That cold breeze off the Pacific Ocean that comes into the bay is jacket weather.
A smallish cafe along Beach, it has a decent Pilsner for those that don't like coffee. But Irish coffee is what its all about here. They claim to have invented it.
A nice place to sit and relax on the tour around this whole part of town you can come in and just blend in as there are as many tourists as locals in here.
We used this for the Friday night meeting spot of the legendary VT Bash by the Bay of 2003.
Dress Code: Didnt notice one.
Buena Vista Cafe (in Fisherman's Wharf, by Ghirardelli Square).
Irish Coffee was invented here in 1890's. They serve a daily average of 2,000 glasses of this drink. $4 a glass. (Boudin Bread, Ghirardelli Chocolate, a Buena Vista Irish Coffee: some of the great tastes of 'The City'.)
Visit the Buena Vista Cafe website!
Be sure to include a stop here when you travel to this beautiful city!
Dress Code: Come as you are.
In Spanish, "buena vista" means good view and the location here high on the hill just behind Ghiradelli Square is indeed a good view. The place has a long bar that curves along the left side of the restaurant. It feels like it has a long history and a little internet research revealved that it's been around as the cafe since 1952 and even longer (1916) as the Buena Vista saloon.
Dress Code: They are most famous for their Irish Coffee. Here's how it's made:
(this is straight from their website and from watching the bartender make tons of them!)
1. Fill the glass with very hot water just to preheat the glass, then pour it out.
2. Pour in hot coffee to 3/4 full, then put 3 cocktail sugar cubes in glass.
3. Stir sugar to dissolve
4. Add full jigger of Irish Whisky
5. Top with lightly whipped whipping cream by pouring gently over a spoon
6. Enjoy hot!
I thought it was great on a cool SF night!
best irish coffee in the world!!!
when u see the bartender throwing a sugar in the coffee...
oh, u already saw one piece of happiness that buena vista cafe could offer u..
Dress Code: casual