Travel: San Francisco’s Tastiest Neighborhood, North Beach
North Beach Garage: 735 Vallejo. Park your car here, whether you have one or not. If you’re on foot, take the elevator to the 5th floor of the lot, which offers the best free aerial view of North Beach, from all sides.
city lights: 261 Christopher Columbus. This upscale bookstore, once a hangout for 1950s beats like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsburg, is still in business today and will keep you busy for hours.
Mora’s Italian pastries: 503 Christopher Columbus. Like cannoli? (“Take the gun, leave the cannoli” is a line you’ll hear often in North Beach. It was used in the classic 1970s movie “The Godfather”.) According to my research, Mara’s, a little hole in the mural bakery, has the best creamy cannoli in town. The ice cream isn’t as good – we recommend going next door to the full-service ice cream parlor, Eating for more.
Tony’s Pizza Napoletaria: 1570 Stockton. Also said to have the best pizza anywhere. Long queues usually keep you out, so Tony has opened a little take-out restaurant for slices next door. But many swear by another joint to go, Golden Boy’s Pizza, across from Tony’s at 542 Green Street, where “it’s hip to be square.” Golden offers Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas, sold in square pieces. You will see long queues here too.
Bakery Liguria: 1700 Stockton. Even more long lines here, stretching for blocks each morning for that classic Italian flatbread, like cold pizza. That’s all this bakery sells, albeit in ten different varieties. The queues are so long that it will be a great opportunity to meet locals and hear Italian spoken.
Church of Saints Peter and Paul: 666 Filbert. The church, in the heart of Washington Square, has dominated the North Beach skyline since 1924. It’s a stunner and worth the visit no matter your view of religion. This is where Marilyn Monroe married baseball great Joe DiMaggio in the 1950s. Photo tip: It’s a large church. Your best spot for a great photo is the Vallejo Street parking lot. And it looks especially cool at night.
by Luisa: 759 Columbus. The aforementioned home of the best spumoni ever, a wonderful Italian restaurant in operation since 1959.
Columbus Inn: 1075 Columbus Ave. Free parking, comfortable rooms and location, location, location. Also affordable. You’ll need to stay somewhere in the city, why not in the heart of North Beach?
Forget that claim to fame and stand in line for the Powell/Hide cable car line that starts directly across the street. This is where, for $8 one way, you’ll get your best unobstructed photo on Alcatraz Island from Hyde and Lombard. Speaking of the windiest street in the world, you will also get a great shot of the street from the car, without having to climb to the top of the hill, which can be grueling.
I go to Coit every time I’m in San Francisco and love walking the hilly streets to get there. The views are amazing. If you don’t like rock climbing, public transport can take you there.
Remember I told you that the best free aerial views are at Vallejo car park? It’s true. But if you can spare $10, I highly recommend taking the elevator to the top of the tower, where you’ll really see the view. Shrubs cover much of it from the parking lot.
In my travels around San Francisco, I took my best shot of the city skyline from here.
Whether it’s an afternoon, evening, weekend or even more, you’ll find something to keep you busy in North Beach. Sadly, many of the traditional Italian restaurants have passed away in recent years, but the good news is that there are still so many more that continue to thrive. Go support them and help them pass into the next century!