Balboa Cafe

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Balboa Cafe One of the oldest bars in San Francisco, Balboa Cafe has been serving good food and great cocktails to power brokers and preppy Marina scenesters since 1913. San Francisco United States 37.798772 -122.435984
4.06 13
Balboa Cafe - Historic Bar | Historic Restaurant in San Francisco.
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Party Earth Review One of the oldest bars in San Francisco, Balboa Cafe has been serving good food and great cocktails to power brokers and preppy Marina scenesters since 1913. Located on the corner of Fillmore and Greenwich – an area known... ... read full review

  • Hours:

    M–F 11:30am–2am, Sa–Su 9am–2am; Restaurant closes at 10pm M–Tu, Su and 11pm W–Sa

  • Recommended as:

    • Day Spot
    • Night Spot

Party Earth Balboa Cafe Review

The Scene

One of the oldest bars in San Francisco, Balboa Cafe has been serving good food and great cocktails to power brokers and preppy Marina scenesters since 1913.

One of the oldest bars in San Francisco, Balboa Cafe has been serving good food and great cocktails to power brokers and preppy Marina scenesters since 1913.

Located on the corner of Fillmore and Greenwich – an area known as The Triangle given the two other popular bars across the street – the venue is a relaxed spot for risotto and lamb chops during the day and an ideal haunt to flirt with sexy seasoned women on Friday and Saturday nights. By early evening, the lacquered bar is lined with polo-clad young professionals and older couples still in their business clothes, while the linen-covered tables cater to moneyed groups who prefer their hamburgers on baguettes instead of buns.

A few older neighborhood sports fans swing by for a Stella and a Giants game, though they’ve usually cleared out before the upwardly mobile twenty-somethings start filing in – and while this new crowd may be wearing dinner dresses and button-downs covering the entire pastel palette, most are just looking to let their rowdier former college selves come out to play.

Long after food service ends, rounds of Patrón and stiff Manhattans keep the conversation loud, the flirting explicit, and the boys betting on who has a shot with that moneyed madam sipping Chardonnay on the corner stool.

Shortly after the sun rises over the city, the cycle begins again at Balboa Cafe – and just like in those movies about the famous boxer with the same name, it always comes out on top.

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Tip from Lucas:

Yeah, the Balboa Burger comes on a baguette. But if you close your eyes, it will quickly become apparent that this thing – complete with grilled onions and zesty spiced pickles – is ridiculously good.

  • Crowd

    Preppy Marina locals, young professionals, barhoppers working The Triangle, trendy young ladies, and flirty older ones, mid-20s to 50s.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Several flat-screens usually tuned to sports.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Rotating menus of New American cuisine for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Limited bar menu also available. Valet after 6pm; not offered on Sundays unless a holiday.

  • Prices

    Brunch menu $7–$12.50, appetizers $6.50–$13.50, bar food $8–$13.50, entrées $12–$30. Beer $4–$8, wine $7–$15/glass or $25–$295+/bottle, cocktails $9. Valet $15 .

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Casual prep to business attire: button-downs, khakis, skirts, designer jeans, blouses.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Friday and Saturday nights for a hopping bar scene that floats between Balboa, City Tavern, and Eastside West, or weekends for a more relaxed brunch.

  • Close By

    MatrixFillmore (3138 Fillmore Street) is a chic lounge just up the street with DJs, a small dance floor, and an attractive singles crowd.

Balboa Cafe User Reviews

Average rating:
Egg's Benedict for Brunch and Beers Past Lunch.
matthew h. Aug 6, 2013
What they say is true; to get to a man’s heart you must first go through his stomach. I was invited to Balboa Café a few weekends ago as part of a date that included brunch. I had never been there before but had heard several good things including their early morning drink specials. Before I go any further into this review, I must take a minute and be honest with everyone, while I don’t necessarily judge the books I own by their covers, I will judge a restaurant by their Egg’s Benedict. As I entered into Balboa’s, I could certainly tell it’s a popular destination for friends to meet up and enjoy conversations with one another. I sat down at the bar and was immediately greeted by a host who took my order of coffee and what would eventually be one of the greatest Bloody Mary’s I would ever have. I placed my order of Egg’s Benedict and anxiously waited for the server to return with my meal. The service and environment of Balboa Café really contributed to the success of the date I was on and in my opinion, must be given proper credit for establishing a foundation of successful dates to come. The server presented me with my Egg’s Benedict and the fate of Balboa’s reputation lay of a plate in front of me. From the first bite to the very last, I could not get enough. It isn’t unusual for me to finish an entire plate of Egg’s Benedict, but how quickly I consumed it should definitely be noted. Even after brunch was finished, we did not feel like leaving. The atmosphere of Balboa Café really engulfs you as you spent time there. You begin to establish a connection with not only those that work there, but with the environment itself. It was now past noon, and we still did not have any desire to leave. We continued by browsing the selection of beers on tap ultimately selecting San Francisco’s own Anchor Steam. It would be several hours later that we would leave, but the effects of Balboa Café would lead me their several more times in the following weeks.
Frank's Cafe
Sylvano A. Jul 14, 2013
As a big steak connoisseur, this is probably one of the best cuts of meat Iv'e had in a while. Had the Porterhouse which was to die for. Wife had the filet mignon which was also fantastic. It was on the pricier side for a steak but you get what you pay for. Our server was very chatty and friendly attentive to our needs. When i walked in, the first thing i noticed was the size of the place. From the outside, it doesn't look like much but inside, they had 30-ft ceilings, massive pillars, and tons of seating.
I like the crowd
Gloria V. Jun 10, 2013
Best atmosphere
best food in town!
Tim M. Mar 27, 2013
Service was fantastic! can't wait to go back!
A lot of history!
Kaile K. Nov 29, 2012
I love visiting Balboa Cafe because it is a great piece of San Francisco history. My mother said she used to go here back in the day... and its still fun! It's a great place to go out with friends and meet new people. The people who come here definitely vary in age, but its fun to visit if you are with a group a friends visiting the Triangle. Its also in a great area of San Francisco, so I would definitely recommend Balboa Cafe if you are in the area!
Awesome Place
Caroline c. Nov 27, 2012
A really excellent bar and cafe! It has a really authentic feeling an dis one of the oldest bars in the city. Really great food and cocktails. I suggest the Balboa Burger or any of their steaks...all the food is delicious. It is also a really great place to people watch and just enjoy great atmosphere. It is a really popular cafe so be sure to make a reservation, especially during the weekends. Also, it is part owned by former mayor/ current lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom. He often stops by (a local celebrity sighting). I would definitely reccomment the Balboa Cafe.
Historic Bar
Rachel G. Nov 22, 2012
Located right next to MatrixFillmore, where I have had a decent time but nothing special. This bar is something very very very different. I really love this bar. Not only is it great and cool, but it's also one of the oldest bars in the city and that makes it like ten times cooler! This is a restaurant that turns into a nightlife bar at night. What I love is how this place is a typical mom-pop restaurant during the day, the food is amazing BTW. Then at night it turns into a liquor flowing bar at night! Talk about a 360 degree turn around. I think everything about this place is worth checking out.
Best Brunch
Eden M. Nov 14, 2012
I LOVE Balboa Cafe! This is a great, fun restaurant to go to with a group of friends or for a special occasion because the atmosphere is great and the food is even greater. I highly recommend going to Balboa cafe for brunch, too, because they are famous for their mimosas! It is also located in a great part of the city, so the people-watching is fun and afterward you can shop on Fillmore or Union Street. I suggest making a reservation ahead of time because it is a pretty popular place, but definitely try it out!
Old-World Classy Restaurant & Bar
Katherine H. Sep 6, 2012
The unexplainable seductive energy flowing around the 20-somethings short skirts and the 70-somethings ties is intoxicating. Balboa offers a good time every time, and is perhaps one of the best spots to people watch in the city. Whether you're coming hungry, thirsty or lonely, Balboa will be able to fill any void. The famous "Balboa Burger," juicy steaks and also vegetarian dishes are always consistently tasty. Lance, one of the restaurant's famous bartenders can concoct just about anything your heart desires with a smile. The scene may be for the preppier side in you, but rest assured that there is a lot of different walks of life waiting to flirt with anyone who walks through this historic place. Balboa is not to be missed by any tourist to the city-- it's a staple!
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