Buena Vista Café

Image: Eric Wolfinger
MONDAY - FRIDAY: 9 A.M. - 2 A.M. | SATURDAY - SUNDAY: 8 A.M. - 2 A.M.
415.474.5044 | WEBSITE

Don’t let the lack of frills or the decidedly tourist-centric address deter you from a visit to the legendary Buena Vista Café. Located at the intersection of the Powell-Hyde Street cable car line and the San Francisco Bay, the Buena Vista is known for one thing, and one thing only: the Irish Coffee, a heady, sweet mix of strong black brew, Irish whisky, sugar and thick cream. Credited with introducing the drink to the U.S. (it was invented after a particularly stormy, harrowing flight to Shannon, Ireland), the Buena Vista still makes a textbook-perfect version: sweet enough to trick you into discrediting the generous pour of Jameson, and strong enough so you can’t possibly. Snag a table by the window for a view of the Bay, or perch at the bar and watch the Irish Coffees being created, ten at a time. If you’re lucky, the old-timer bartender may well perform some card tricks for you.

Known For
  • historic
  • day drinking
  • full menu
What to drink
Irish Coffee. Ordering a second round is generally a great idea.
Fisherman's Wharf
Skip the food — the standard coffee shop fare is fine, but your stomach space is better served by another coffee (and a trip to a more worthy eating destination). Weekdays are your best bet for catching the café at a mellow moment.