Day-Trip Time! 29 Reasons To Visit North Beach Now

[UPDATE: This story was originally published on June 25.]
San Francisco definitely has its share of ultra-cool neighborhoods. But one that's been registering on our radar a lot, lately, is North Beach. Known for its rich Italian history and Beat movement past, the area not only plays host to the oldest street in town (Grant Avenue), but also has a very promising future. With the arrival of awesome new boutiques like ACRE/SF and the soon-to-open brick-and-mortar outpost of Réveille Coffee Co., there are more reasons than one to visit this slice of the city.
In fact, we're serving up 29 things to do in North Beach now — from shopping along the charming narrow streets and lounging in one of S.F.'s prettiest parks to noshing on perhaps the best slice of pizza in town. Peep our old-world meets new-school guide right here and consider your staycation plans in the bag.
Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Less than a year in the 'hood and this shopping outpost (a sister store to Hayes Valley's Acrimony) has already delivered a heavy dose of style — and caffeine — to North Beach. The boutique-slash-coffee shop at Union and Montgomery (trust, it's worth the hike!) serves up piping-hot cups of Blue Bottle alongside equally sizzling wares for both guys and gals, plus quirky home goods. Look for pieces by Rachel Comey, T by Alexander Wang, Karen Walker, Jeffrey Campbell, and more.

ACRE/SF, 301 Union Street (at Montgomery Street); 415-875-9590.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Tony's Pizza Napoletana
Home of arguably the best pizza in town, Tony's is a North Beach and citywide staple. And for good reason. Owner Tony Gemignani is a true pizza connoisseur. Not only has he won multiple awards for his pies at stiff competitions in Naples, Italy, he's also become an expert on whipping up signature pizza styles hailing from New York to Detroit. Warning: Chances are, you might be waiting about an hour to get seated. Grab a drink at one of our many watering-hole suggestions to tide you over.

Tony's Pizza Napoletana, 1570 Stockton Street (at Union Street); 415-835-9888.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Washington Square Park
Anchored by the beautiful Saints Peter and Paul Church on the north side and surrounded by yummy eateries, this patch of grass serves as the epicenter of sorts for the neighborhood. We suggest getting some snacks from one of the many local delis, spreading out a blanket, and doing some hardcore chilling right here. Plus, on most days it's a helluva lot less crowded than Dolores Park.

Washington Square Park, at Columbus Avenue and Union Street.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Public Barber Salon
Lined with books from floor to soaring ceiling, this stunning barber shop is a sight to see. And don't let the masculine-sounding name fool you, girls. This place serves up $15 buzz cuts and $10 beard trims for the dudes, and color, cuts (starting at $31), and blowouts for the ladies.

Public Barber Salon, 1528 Grant Avenue (between Filbert and Union streets); 415-362-0040.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Aria Antiques
Often compared to the feel of a Parisian flea market, this shop is stuffed to the brim with beautiful antiques and curiosities. Porcelain-doll hands, vintage botanical prints and anatomical posters, worn-in books, and found photographs and can stumble upon something new every time you visit. Just be sure to call ahead and brace yourself for the erratic hours.

Aria Antiques, 1522 Grant Avenue (between Flibert and Union streets); 415-433-0219.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Little Vine
Modeled after tiny European grocery stores and North Beach's rich deli-centric culture, this little artisanal shop will charm the pants right off of you. Owned by a husband-and-wife team, Little Vine offers a fine selection of cheese, salumi, ice cream, Italian cooking supplies, under-$20 wines, and even for-rent picnic baskets to tuck it all into.

Little Vine, 1541 Grant Avenue (between Filbert and Union streets); 415-738-2221.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Sitting on the northeast corner of Washington Square Park, this maternally inspired eatery is, perhaps not a surprise, all about down-home comfort food. Serving breakfast and lunch for over 50 years, yummy omelettes, bread smeared with homemade jam, a wide variety of "Mama's Benedicts," and French toast are the name of the game. Don't let the line out the door (day after day) scare you. It ends up moving pretty fast.

Mama's, 1701 Stockton Street (at Filbert Street); 415-362-6421.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Molinari Delicatessen
This four-generation-strong operation is the real deal. Italian dudes with thick accents man the counters, dry-cured salumi hangs overhead, and loads of imported goods straight from the motherland line the shelves. If you're not one for cooking at home, grab a made-to-order sandwich.

Molinari Delicatessen, 373 Columbus Avenue (between Grant Avenue and Vallejo Street); 415-421-2337.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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The Filbert Steps
Looking for an oasis in this concrete jungle? Look no further than the swoon-worthy Filbert Steps. With pretty views of the city, lush foliage, and even a parrot spotting or two (depending on the day and season), this dreamy walkway will make you fall in love with S.F. all over again.

The Filbert Steps, Filbert Street (from Sansome Street to Coit Tower).

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Al's Attire
Although many goods are dubbed "bespoke" these days, the stuff coming out of Al's Attire is the true definition of the word. Al and his team of tailors specialize in custom suits, coats, hats, shoes, dresses, and pretty much anything else you can dream up.

Al's Attire, 1300 Grant Ave (between Vallejo and Fresno streets); 415-693-9900.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Naked Lunch
Can't locate this eatery? Just look for an out-the-door line snaking along Broadway during lunch, every day of the week. That's when owners Ian Begg and Ryan Maxey (also the dudes behind Txoko next door) slang their cult-followed, high-end sammies and salads. Fried Berkshire pork belly, banana brulee, pre-ban foie gras, crispy soft-shell crab, brown-butter hollandaise, and all sorts of other delicacies are fair game.

Naked Lunch, 504 Broadway (at Kearny Street); 415-577-4951.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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City Lights Bookseller and Publishers
Founded in 1953, City Lights is one of the most famous independent bookstores in the nation. With a large collection of poetry tomes and progressive politics books, this shop (a historic landmark) also carries hot of-the-moment fiction and pretty-picture travel books. It's also where you'll find many big-name authors roll through town for readings.

City Lights Bookseller and Publishers, 261 Columbus Avenue (at Broadway), 415-362-8193.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Schein & Schein
If you've got a hankering for vintage maps or wanderlust in general, Shein & Shein is a must-hit destination. With thousands of antique maps and prints from the 14th to the 19th Century, history buffs could easily spend an afternoon here. To prevent yourself from getting overwhelmed, you can scope out the offerings online before you head over. And, if sticker shock is more your issue, stay near the $5, $10, and $20 bins in the front of the shop.

Schein & Schein, 1435 Grant Avenue (between Union and Green streets); 415-399-8882.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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The House
Dodge the tourists on Columbus' main drag and duck into this laid-back spot on Grant Ave. Serving up Asian-American dishes, expect people-pleasing sea bass, deep-fried salmon rolls, wasabi noodles with flat-iron steak, and other flavorful fare.

The House, 1230 Grant Avenue (between Broadway and Vallejo Street); 415-986-8612.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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15 Romolo
From the same folks that brought you the Alembic, this 14-year-old spot was doing the Barbary Coast-inspired speakeasy thing way before those other guys (1998 to be exact). In addition to fine artisanal cocktails, the spacious spot (tucked in an alley) boasts a yummy weekend brunch, open-until-2 a.m. hours, and foxy bartenders galore!

15 Romolo, 15 Romolo Place (off Broadway); 415-398-1359.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Cafe Zoetrope
Located at street level of the historic Sentinel Building (the green beauty that sits on Columbus and Kearny), this Francis Ford Coppola property has the same name as his production company. Naturally, it contains lots of film memorabilia on the inside, along with a menu including Coppola wines and Italian cuisine, all in a Euro-chic setting.

Cafe Zoetrope, 916 Kearny Street (at Columbus Avenue); 415-291-1700.

Photographed by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
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Park & Pond
The brainchild of two Bay Area sisters, this new-ish shop stocks baubles, stationery and cards, decor, art, and bath and body products all produced within 100 miles of S.F. Need a gift? Get yourself over here — stat.

Park & Pond, 1422 Grant Avenue (between Union and Green streets); 415-217-8864.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Get transported — and fast! — at this dive bar filled with relics from the sea and navy, and other antiques and oddities. No matter the hour, the lights are low, Etta James (or the like) is on the radio, and it's the perfect place to throw one back while relaxing or brushing up on your card game.

Specs (aka The Alder Museum), 12 William Saroyan Place (off Columbus Avenue); 415-421-4112.

Photographed by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
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Caffe Trieste
Rumored to be the first place to serve espresso on the West Coast (in the '50s), this corner spot seems to have changed little since that then. The folks behind the counter are still serving up fine coffee, Italian sandwiches, and pastries. We say, if you must visit any old-school cafe in the area, make it this one.

Caffe Trieste, 609 Vallejo Street (at Grant Avenue); 415-982-2605.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe
Blink and you might miss this tiny space on the southwest corner of Washington Square Park. But we suggest keeping your eyes peeled so you don't miss out on the affordable and yummy grilled panninis and salads and great people-watching vantage point.

Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe, 566 Columbus Avenue (between Stockton and Green streets); 415-362-0536.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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The Chubby Noodle
A literal hidden gem, this unmarked spot is tucked inside of the dive-y Amante bar. Grab a leather booth and dine on Korean pork tacos, ceviche, shrimp and pork wonton soup, and, of course, a handful of noodle dishes — from peppered duck noodles to red-miso ramen.

The Chubby Noodle (inside of Amante), 570 Green Street (between Columbus and Grant avenues); 415-361-8850.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Comstock Saloon
Located in a former bar from 1907, Comstock Saloon serves up every fancy, hand-made cocktail (and full dinner menu) with a big nod to the past. The bartenders wear ties and take their craft super seriously, the decor is Barbary Coast inspired, and old-school bands take to the balcony on most week nights. We suggest you dress the part when you head that way.

Comstock Saloon, 155 Columbus Avenue (at Pacific Avenue); 415-617-0071.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Yes, it's in all the tourist books, but rightfully so. This historic and totally cluttered bar first opened its doors in 1948 and played host to many luminaries in the Beat movement and beyond. The balcony serves as a prime spot to people watch, plus get your North Beach bearings. And, fun fact, the gorgeous space above Vesuvio is a for-rent event space dubbed Cookhouse, where folks can cook for large groups or invite local chefs to do the work for them, all in a storied setting.

Vesuvio, 255 Columbus Avenue (between Pacific Avenue and Broadway), 415-362-3370.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Don Pistos
Although this space can tend to get a bit bro-tastic at times, it's hard to argue with the delectable Mexican street food that is doled out and the stiff drinks. If you haven't been there yet, we think you should try the weekend brunch, complete with bottomless aqua-fresca mimosas.

Don Pistos, 510 Union Street (at Grant Avenue); 415-395-0939.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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AB Fits
Just a few paces from Don Pistos is denim (and more) emporium AB Fits, which has a cool saloon-style front door and indie wares for guys and gals. Other solid and nearby shopping destinations include Mister, The Darkside Initiative, and Old Vogue.

AB Fits, 1519 Grant Avenue (between Union and Filbert streets); 415-982-5726.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Park Tavern
Perhaps the poshest restaurant in North Beach, this park-bordering eatery has made a big impact in a relatively short amount of time. N.B. locals and folks from other 'hoods dig the lively bar scene and the "upscale American" cuisine (deviled eggs with pickled jalepeño, a twice-baked potato with crème fraiche). It's all the creation of movers and shakers Anna Weinberg and Jennifer Puccio, the duo behind sleek and chic SoMa spot Marlowe.

Park Tavern, 1652 Stockton Street (between Filbert and Union streets); 415-989-7300.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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If the line at Tony's is too long, consider heading over to Capo's, a brand-spankin'-new spot also helmed by Tony Gemignani. Filled with clubby red-leather booths, this beautiful throwback eatery specializes in delicious Chicago-style deep-dish pies.

Capo's, 641 Vallejo Street (at Columbus Avenue).

Photographed by Katie Hintz-Zambrano
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If eating octopus (and the like) is your thing, this sprawling Basque-style Spanish spot is for you. Pronounced cho-ko, it's the higher-end restaurant to its more casual sister eatery Naked Lunch. Not a fan of Spanish cuisine? The pretty bar area is sure to please.

Txoko, 504 Broadway (at Kearny Street); 415-500-2744.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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Bimbos 365
An entertainment classic, this venue has been going strong since 1931. Rita Hayworth once performed here as a chorus girl and today the odd indie band will hit the stage. Check the spot's upcoming schedule to figure out the best time to take the old-school space all in.

Bimbo's 365, 1025 Columbus Avenues (between Chestnut and Francisco streets); 415-474-0365.

Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile

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