Food & Drink

The 8 best diners in San Francisco

Published On 03/12/2014 Published On 03/12/2014
St. Francis Fountain

For all those times you just want hash browns, and coffee, and an egg sandwich, and a Bloody Mary, and Advil, and like 3-4 Alka-Seltzers, and another egg sandwich, and a second cup of coffee, and maybe one more egg sandwich: here're the eight best diners in San Francisco.

flickr/D. Laird

The Grind (click here for address and deets)
Lower Haight
A Lower Haight staple, this chicken fried steak-ery just recently got a renovation, giving it sliiiiightly more room and a nice enough interior that you almost feel a little weird eating diner food here. Unless you're doing it on an outdoor patio, in which case you just feel awesome.

It's Tops Cafe

It's Tops Coffee Shop (click here for address and deets)
The Mission
Run by the same family for decades, this 1950s diner is the kind of place you'd base an entire burger chain on (paging Johnny Rocket's, Johnny Rocket's to the front desk, Johnny Rocket's... to... the front desk). And along with a jukebox, they've also got a (yawwwwwwwwn) bacon-stuffed waffle.

Just For You Cafe

Just For You Cafe (click here for address and deets)
Dogpatch
This 30yr-old eggs-and-bacon-slinger in Dogpatch is usually packed, and with good reason: their menu's everything you could want from breakfast, including a helluva breakfast burrito and the Hangtown Fry: three scrambled eggs with bacon, oysters, and onions. According to them, "If this doesn’t cure your hangover, you’d better just go back to bed."

flickr/Kate Ter Haar

Eddie's (click here for address and deets)
Alamo Square
If Comfortfoodlandia existed, Eddie's would be its king -- an unpretentious down-South fry-cookery off of Alamo square with great biscuits and oldies music. And best of all? It's extremely affordable.

Grubstake

Grubstake (click here for address and deets)
Nob Hill
Though you might not expect Portuguese food from a diner (or really anywhere other than a Portuguese restaurant, and maybe not even there, honestly), this place's got it, and it's perfect. Literally, you can't beat the linguica on garlic bread topped with their own special hot sauce.

St. Francis Fountain

St. Francis Fountain (click here for address and deets)
The Mission
This diner's been around since 1918. You don't stick around for almost 100 years unless you're doing something right/have read a bunch of lawyer books about adverse possession. Make sure to grab a burger and/or (but mostly 'and') one of their old-school milkshakes.

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Golden Coffee (click here for address and deets)
Tenderloin
This Tenderloin mom-and-pop shop is where greasy spoon diner-needs go to die: there's fast service, cheap eats, and all-around on-point diner food. Bonus: people watching!

flickr/Peter Dutton

The Cove on Castro Cafe (click here for address and deets)
Castro
A historic Castro post-up, not only does this spot serve a mean version of all your favorite diner fare, they also offer all day, every day bottomless mimosas. All day. Every day.

Joe Starkey is Thrillist's SF Editor and will be trying to get to the bottom of those mimosas. Follow him on Twitter.

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1. Cove On Castro Cafe 434 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (The Castro)

The Cove on Castro is a great American diner joint serving up all the classics.

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2. Golden Coffee Shop 901 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Downtown)

More than just a quality coffee spot, Golden also doles out delicious diner breakfast foods like corned beef hash and good ol' fashioned pancakes.

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3. Eddie's 800 Divisadero St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Alamo Square)

If Comfortfoodlandia existed, Eddie's would be its king -- an unpretentious down-South fry-cookery off of Alamo square with great biscuits and oldies music. And best of all? It's extremely affordable.

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4. The Grind Cafe 783 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

Lower Haight's standby diner, newly renovated with an outdoor patio, grab an omelette or chicken fried steak and enjoy the sun.

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5. It's Tops Coffee Shop 1801 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (The Mission)

Run by the same family for decades, this retro 1950s diner is the kind of place you'd base an entire burger chain off of. To the tunes of its old-school jukebox, It's Tops serves classic diner faves like breakfast specials (stuffed waffles, sourdough French toast, make-your-own-omelettes) and giant burgers with hand-cut fries. You can enjoy it all in a cozy, neon-lit, and wood-paneled space that's retained the same charm since its mid-century opening.

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6. Just For You Cafe 732 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Dogpatch)

This 30yr-old eggs-and-bacon-slinger in Dogpatch is usually packed, and with good reason: their menu's everything you could want from breakfast, including a helluva breakfast burrito and the Hangtown Fry: three scrambled eggs with bacon, oysters, and onions. According to them, "If this doesn’t cure your hangover, you’d better just go back to bed."

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7. St. Francis Fountain 2801 24th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Done up in an old-fashioned, nostalgic aesthetic that mimics diners of yore, this classic "soda fountain" serves up homey egg-centric breakfasts with spuds, biscuits, and a choice of protein. Renown, juicy burgers are also on offer, and can be enjoyed on top stools and classic diner counters that look like they haven't been changed since the '50s.

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8. Grubstake Diner 1525 Pine St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Nob Hill)

This San Francisco institution has been in the business of serving up unforgettable grub since 1937, by way of greasy goodness from a converted railroad car until 4am (daily). Burgers, Philly cheesesteaks, fries & wings are all great options, as are the omelets and pancakes. If you’re in the mood for something more substantial, order up a steak dinner or the pork chops with two eggs while you gaze at impressionist paintings or people-watch.

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