North Beach/Columbus Avenue

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Now: There is so much colorful history bound up in North Beach, and so much going on, it's hard for even the most cynical resident not to appreciate the crackling mix of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bakeries, nightclubs, and book shops. The real gems in North Beach are the places that you hardly notice when you're passing by. If they have an attention-getting exterior, and especially if they have a "greeter" or hired musician out front, you can be pretty sure that they're trying so hard to get you inside because they can't compete based on quality or reputation.

Then: Before the augmentation of the coastline, North Beach was actually just that - the beach at the northernmost edge of San Francisco, known then as the Barbary Coast. Italian immigrants came in large numbers during the later 1800s, and began setting up the scene that is reflected in today's version of the neighborhood.

How To Get There: Walking up Grant Street and Chinatown from Union Square is the most common way for visitors to reach North Beach. The 20 and 41 Muni bus lines from Sacramento Street at Davis, just west of Embarcadero Center, also go directly there. Parking around North Beach can be tricky, but it's usually easier if you overshoot and look for a space around the northern end of Columbus, closer the Chestnut. There is also a parking garage on Vallejo Street between Powell and Stockton.


  • Columbus Avenue in North Beach, looking south toward Transamerica Pyramid

  • Columbus Tower at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Kearny Street, completed in 1907 and currently owned by Francis Ford Coppola

  • Detail of the Columbus Tower in North Beach

  • Columbus Tower and Transamerica Pyramid

  • House of Nanking on Kearny Avenue near the intersection of Columbus

  • Tosca Cafe, on Columbus Avenue near Broadway

  • Jukebox inside Tosca Cafe

  • Broadway at night, near Columbus Avenue, North Beach

  • Hungry I Club, on Broadway between Grant Avenue and Kearny Street

  • The Beat Museum, on Broadway in North Beach

  • Vesuvio, next to City Lights Books, on Columbus Avenue in North Beach

  • Jack Kerouac Alley, off of Columbus Avenue next to Vesuvio

  • Stairway inside Vesuvio

  • Vesuvio sign and Kerouac Alley, from inside Vesuvio

  • Inside the upper level of Vesuvio

  • Sign in the window of City Lights Books

  • City Lights Books, on Columbus Avenue near Broadway

  • Steps of Rome, on Columbus near Vallejo

  • Enrico's Restaurant, on Broadway Street at Kearny Street

  • Bocce Cafe, on Green Street at Grant Avenue

  • E Tutto Qua, at the corner of Columbus and Broadway

  • Grant Avenue at Filbert Street

  • Pink Blossom Clothing, on Grant Avenue near Filbert Street

  • Ruby Dolls Clothing, on Grant Avenue near Vallejo Street

  • Grant Street near Union Street

  • The Saloon, on Grant Avenue at Fresno Street

  • Intersection of Stockton and Green Streets in North Beach

  • North Beach Restaurant, on Stockton Street at Columbus

  • North Beach Pizza on Grant Avenue in North Beach

  • Mamas - breakfast and brunch, on Stockton Street at Filbert Street, at the corner of Washington Square Park

  • Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe - Italian Focaccia and Sandwiches, Columbus Street at Union Street

  • Tony's Pizza Napoletana, on Stockton Street at Union

  • Saints Peter and Paul Church, across from Washington Square Park

  • Washington Square Park, on Union Street near Columbus in North Beach

  • Saints Peter and Paul Church, facing Washington Square

  • Statue of Benjamin Franklin in Washington Square Park

  • Time Capsule inscription at the base of the statue of Benjamin Franklin in Washington Square Park

  • Statue dedicated to firefighters, in Washington Square Park

  • Mural on the west side of Columbus Avenue, across from Washington Square Park

  • 101 Music, on Green Street in North Beach

  • Italian French Baking Company on Grant Street at Union Street, offering many kinds of biscotti

  • Cafe Jacqueline on Grant Avenue, specializing in souffles

  • The Savoy Tivoli, on Grant Street

  • Green Street in North Beach, looking west toward Columbus Avenue

  • Sodini's Green Valley Restaurant, Italian Trattoria, on Green Street

  • Molinari Delicatessen on Columbus at Vallejo Street

  • Inside Molinari Delicatessen

  • L'Osteria del Forno, on Columbus

  • Tommaso's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria on Kearny Street near Broadway

  • Michelangelo Caffe in North Beach

  • Rose Pistola, on Columbus at Stockton

  • Trattoria Contadina, on Mason Street at Union Street

  • Mara's Italian Pastry on Columbus at Green Street

  • Caffe Puccini, on Columbus at Vallejo

  • Mangarosa Restaurant and Bar, on Stockton Street

  • Caffe DeLucchi in North Beach

  • Mona Lisa Ristorante

  • The Stinking Rose, on Columbus at Vallejo Street

  • Gelateria Naia, on Columbus near Green Street

  • Caffe Trieste, on Vallejo Street

  • XOX Truffles, on Columbus Avenue at Greenwich Street

  • Bimbo's 365 Club, on Columbus Avenue near Chestnut Street

  • Kennedy's Irish Pub and Curry House, facing both Columbus Avenue and Taylor Street, at Francisco Street