It is a traveler’s bucket-list thrill to glide down the hill on Hyde Street to Fisherman’s Wharf in a clattering, breezy, open-air San Francisco cable car to the last stop at Beach Street where the cozy Buena Vista Café awaits.
It’s probably crowded inside, especially if there’s a foggy chill in the air. The old-style barroom is long and narrow, brightened by the big old arched windows that open on to Beach Street views and the bay beyond. Shoulder your way through the convivial crowd of tourists (naturally) and locals to the vintage long bar where the action is likely to be the dramatic preparation of their famous Irish Coffee cocktails, a dozen at a time. And that creamy, steamy brew is the best Irish coffee you will ever taste anywhere, this side of the River Shannon. The origin story of Buena Vista’s Irish coffee tradition dates back to 1952 and is told in full on their website, in case the barkeep doesn’t give it to you first hand, which he’ll do if you ask.
Fish and chips, Dungeness crab melt, and Cable Car meatloaf highlight the sturdy menu. Pair them with local brews or any one (or two) of their peerless classic cocktails. But, really, the all-day breakfast fare is renowned. My favorite is the bread pudding and Irish whiskey combo.
2765 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA 94109