North Beach – San Francisco Local’s Guide

Dawson Turner
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Great first stops after arriving @ Pacific Tradewinds Hostel

What’s up y’all! I’m curating a little shortlist with some of my personal favorite joints (so far) in North Beach neighborhood, remarkably close to the Pacific Tradewinds Hostel. All of these are within a 10-12 minute walk from our space at the edge of Chinatown.

It should be noted that I’m intentionally excluding City Lights bookstore as I plan a later separate piece dedicated just to it. In the interest of everyone, not just young travelers on a budget, I’m keeping options relatively inexpensive. Alright, let’s dig.

[Images by Dawson]


Vesuvio Cafe

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Jack Kerouac alleyway spliced between Vesuvio and City Lights Bookstore

An iconic establishment in the heart of the neighborhood, right on Columbus and directly next to City Lights Bookstore. Steeping in bohemian ambiance and probably the same decor since the 50s, I felt one with the Beatniks.

This legendary bar has been a gathering place for artists, writers, and intellectuals since it opened its doors in 1948. Hell, even their website is inspiring to me. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a drink, chat up a total stranger, and bask in the rich history of the San Francisco scene.

Betty Lou’s (4-6pm $2 Oyster Happy Hour!!!)


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Betty Lou’s is a charming little seafood restaurant right on Columbus. Everyday (everyday!) from 4 to 6 p.m., they offer an irresistible $2 oyster happy hour that draws locals and visitors alike.

On my first full day in town I was taking a walk up the street and happily stumbled through its doors with the promise of fresh, cheap and delicious oysters. I was in and out of there in maybe 15 minutes with a tab total of like $7. What’s better?

Goldenboy Pizza

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Residence on Green Street

An instant personal favorite. Renowned for its mouthwatering square slices of pizza, I’ve already stopped by their sidewalk window for a slice 3 times since I’ve been in the city. Walking past Green Street alone, you’re greeted with the heavenly aroma of freshly baked dough and melting cheese.

Goldenboy is known for its Sicilian-style pizza, with a thick, fluffy crust that perfectly complements the generous toppings and tangy tomato sauce. The menu offers classic combinations of pepperoni and sausage, vegetarian and vegan choices as well. Dear god, so good. I am destined to become best friends with everyone working there. Without hyperbole I say: what I consider to be a perfect slice of pizza.

Raavi North Indian Cuisine

From curries to tandoori dishes, the menu is filled with a wide variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian options to cater to every palate.

I can only be honest: I got about halfway through reading their online menu and writing this description before realizing I cannot truly speak on what I haven’t tried. I haven’t been to this spot just yet, but I’ve heard nothing but great things from those in our hostel that have visited.

And I do plan to go! In our commonspace lies a laminated sign recommending the place as the best (and inexpensive) Indian cuisine in North Beach, so here I relay that to you. Who knows, maybe it’ll be so good it’ll earn its own piece. Stay tuned šŸ˜‰

Spec’s Twelve Adler Museum Cafe


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Spec’s immediately struck me as a remarkably chill drinking cove in the heart of North Beach. Part museum, part cafe, this eccentric joint gives you a sample of San Francisco’s history and bohemian culture. The walls are adorned with artifacts, vintage photographs, art pieces, and curiosities. The first time I was there I was greatly comforted by the atmosphere after a night of bleeding from one pounding club to the next.

My group and I stumbled in there at ~1am and was chock full of huge parties in conversation, a few guys playing a game of chess, bellow laughs at the bar, my table playing “Never Have I Ever” ultimately as means of storytelling. Was anyone even counting fingers? Who cares. All well-accompanied by a glass of their signature house red.

I hope y’all enjoyed this brief tour of the North Beach area, let me know what your thoughts once tried!


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