Refreshingly Unhip: SF's Old School Coffee Shops

Refreshingly Unhip: SF's Old School Coffee Shops


With Philz, Blue Bottle, the Mill, La Boulange or Sightglass taking over the city's 'hoods, we San Franciscans have forgotten our true roots. Those old school coffee shops and diners have been around before drip coffee and hipsters. Sometimes, all you need is a quick fix of watery caffeine and some eggs, bacon, hash browns, and a place to reflect on last night–that’s exactly what these diners are for. No macchiatos, no farm-to-table poached eggs, and certainly no almond milk. Just some good, old-fashioned breakfast. 

EDDIE’S CAFÉ (800 Divisadero St.)

Omelet and hasbrowns by Breakfast at Epiphany's

This family-run, neighborhood café is anything but fancy, but they sure know how to do breakfast. Eggs, bacon or sausage, and hash browns or grits, alongside a few biscuits drenched in butter...what more could you want in your first meal of the day? But what Eddie’s is truly known for is their signature coffee mugs: Everything from SF Giants to a woman’s bosom may be your receptacle for unlimited coffee. Grab a seat at the counter or in one of the small booths and enjoy this simply delicious breakfast.


breakfast at Pinecrest by eating is the hard part

Pinecrest Diner has been a Union Square staple since 1969. Open all night, it’s the place to go for late night burgers, omelets, endless cups of joe, or just a well-lit place to sit in the wee hours of the morning. A part of San Francisco folklore, one of the cooks once murdered a waitress over an order of eggs. But have no fear, it’s still a great place for a cup of coffee....and some eggs. 


breakfast at Lafayette Coffe Shop by sanfrancup

Tucked away in the depths of the Tenderloin, this diner serves everything from omelets to chicken fried steaks to French Dip sandwiches. It’s a quintessential greasy spoon, with hearty food and friendly service. Lafayette Diner is the perfect spot for your morning-after cure, with unlimited $1.25 coffee and enough grease to soak up last night’s mistakes.

MANOR COFFEE SHOP (321 W. Portal Ave. #A)

exterior by Margot Hartford of Sunset Magazine

Manor Coffee Shop appears to be stuck in the 1950s, and we love it. Retro clocks, posters, and a jukebox decorate the interior, but, somehow, it doesn’t look kitschy. The family has owned it for several generations, and the clientele tends to be a group of elderly regulars. They do everything in-house, from peeling potatoes, to cutting French fries, to grinding meat for the hamburgers.  Enjoy your coffee and diner meal served to you by one of the friendly waitresses, decked out in retro pink server’s uniforms. 


Located in Nob Hill, this family-owned diner serves up corned beef hash, clam chowder, and biscuits and gravy in a tropical atmosphere. Photos of customers line the walls, and luscious plants decorate the countertops. A cheap meal, endless cup of coffee, and mom-and-pop service make this a great place for your morning meal.


The bar at Golden Coffee Shop by divefood

We all know that sitting at the counter is faster and more fun than sitting at a table. Golden Coffee Shop banks on this fact with their horseshoe shaped bar, complete with rickety stools and linoleum counter tops. But it’s the simplicity and the modesty that makes this place what it is. That and the fact that they serve the typical diner fare (eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles) alongside Chinese food. Yes, that’s right. You can get your omelet with a side of fried rice. So head into this quintessential San Francisco coffee shop for some eggs, chow mein, and a never-ending cup of steaming coffee. 

RED CAFE (2894 Mission St.)

Photo via Yelp user Melissa F.

This corner spot is populated by neighborhood families and hungover singles reminiscing about the previous nights' antics over oft-refilled coffee, well-made diner fare, and dependably tasty Latino dishes. We love their pollo a la plancha (not on the menu!), their Red Cafe salad (grilled chicken, Romaine, tomatoes, croutons, avocado, and pico de gallo dressing), pancakes, platanos, huevos rancheros, and rib-sticking chilaquiles–topped off with friendly service and a super chill atmosphere.

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