At the center of San Francisco's famous coffee culture
, like the sun at the center of our very own solar system, is the legendary Caffe Trieste. The oldest coffee shop on the West Coast of the United States, Trieste defined the cafe scene that soon swept the city and then made its way up to Portland and Seattle. Trieste was also home base for the famous Beat Generation
, and still is the favorite gathering of eclectic locals who love to discuss politics and culture over the high-octane coffee drinks.
Visiting Caffe Trieste
Caffe Trieste is located right in the heart of North Beach
on upper Grant Ave, just a block above the intersection with Columbus Ave.
Sitting right across the street from the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, Trieste occupies a special corner in the city, as it caps one of the few triangular blocks in the area.
- Address: 601 Vallejo Street, San Francisco
- Hours: 6am to 11pm Weekends, 6am to 10pm during the week.
- Contact: (415) 550-1107 www.caffetrieste.com
Caffe Trieste - The Ambiance
Photo by Ocean Malandra
Caffe Trieste is an authentic old world cafe and social hub in the middle of North America's most creative city and as such, it has a very special vibe. Portraits of famous patrons, from Italian Opera stars to American comedians like Bill Cosby line the walls and the there are always a solid bunch of local regulars hanging near the door despite the cafe's popularity with the tourists.
Sidewalk seating out front does not get the late afternoon sun the way some of the cafe's on Columbus do, but the scenic location makes up for it and people watching is at its best here.
Inside, a haphazard arrangement of tables, some pushed together to form open communal seating, tends to host conversations about world affairs and philosophy as well as solitary readers and writers. In short, this is a cafe in the oldest and best sense of the institution, a true community gathering space that fosters both social interaction and the creative process.
Caffe Trieste - The Menu
Caffe Trieste is most famous for its full bodied coffee, which it steam presses into traditional Italian style espresso drinks like cappucinos and lattes. Try the Cafe Africano, a double shot of Italian roast mixed with an equal portion of steamed extra-rich milk, a true Trieste classic that is strong and creamy at the same time.
Italian pastries and cakes are also available, as well as pizza from nearby Golden Boy and house specialties like panini sandwhiches. Trieste also serves several beers in the bottle and house wine by the glass, making it a favorite stop for before or after dinner drinks.
Caffe Trieste - The Music
One of the longest running live music venues in the city of San Francisco, Caffe Trieste's Saturday Concert Series happens once a month and features traditional Italian folk music and opera.
Every Thursday night local North Beach jazz, classical or folk performers play at the cafe, a great night to catch some local action.
The first and third Sundays of the month feature special performances by an acoustic Mazurka band, which also has a strong local following.