Historic Restaurants 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 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 ... more


3199 Fillmore Street
San Francisco CA 94123

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SF Historic Restaurants Overview

Balboa Cafe - Historic Bar | Historic Restaurant in SF

Historic restaurants in San Francisco date all the way back to the glinting yesteryear of the California Gold Rush, servin’ up tasty grub for the working class and wayward travelers throughout the downtown waterfront.

Today, not much has changed. Started on Long Wharf in 1949 by Croatian immigrants, The Tadich Grill was once a lowly coffee and seafood stand, but with good fortune and general scrappiness, their operations (seriously) expanded. Today, hundreds of diners sit down to eat fresh seafood at the third-oldest restaurant in the country, with hungry hordes lining up in front. No reservations taken. Word on the street says if you’re patient enough to get in, you may get to rub elbows (or axes) with Johnny (Jack Nicholson) or other celebs that frequent the location.

Also hopelessly devoted to clams (and other nautical delights) is the Old Clam House, which lays claim to the title of oldest SF restaurant in one location. It’s off the beaten path locale – East of Bernal Heights – may be what saved it from the raging fires following the 1906 earthquake. Once you find this hidden gem, however, you'll be ready to dig in like a decidedly happy clam.

The Fior – Fior d'Italia to be exact – hasn't enjoyed such a fortunate fire-free history, as it has burned down three times since 1886, and has been controlled by three different owners, possibly making it the most turbulent of historic San Francisco restaurants. It now claims to be the "oldest Italian restaurant in the U.S.," and has come full circle, replanted in the Italian enclave of North Beach.

Perhaps the only fire you'll want to be near is the one flickering in Mayes Oyster House, the self-touted "oldest seafood restaurant in SF." Slurp dollar oysters at happy hour and enjoy the rustic romance at this antique spot.

For timeless and tasty cocktails, you may want to visit Buena Vista, Balboa Cafe, or Shotwell's, but none of these are truly historic SF restaurants, since their “could have been famous” tales were interrupted by that pesky Prohibition period!

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