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Best Diners in San Francisco

By: Cityseeker
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It's Tops Coffee Shop

Take a trip to the 1930s by visiting this corner coffee shop that's been around since then and has not changed much over the years, except for changing hands to the family that has run it with style and good humor since the '50s. The neon sign is vintage, too. Sit at the counter with locals, or in one of the booths by the huge windows, sip a Coke and listen to your favorite oldie playing on the jukebox. There are the usual burgers, fries, shakes, and banana splits on the menu, with eggs and pancakes for the breakfast crowd. It is all good and there is not a thing to break the spell of being in another time and place.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Tommy's Joynt

Both inside and out, Tommy's Joynt is an eyeful! It is huge and historic, with murals, animal heads, and various odds and ends, all packed into a building that is over 100 years old. Lines can be long, but you will move down the cafeteria-style procession quickly. Choose your sandwich, grab a pickle from the barrel, and sit. A server will be by soon to take your beer order. The international selection, both on tap and by the bottle, is shockingly large for such an all-American place.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Taylor Street Coffee Shop

This little cafe in the heart of the Tenderloin has a host of delicious breakfast options offered at reasonable prices. Favorites include the variety in omelets, eggs, sausages, hash browns and other vegetarian options. Wonderfully presented fresh fruit is also served with almost everything and the service is friendly. There are also sandwiches and other lunch options. Come early if you want to avoid the wait.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Cafe Mason

This contemporary American bistro is a godsend to people who like to eat late at night. It makes a great alternative to 24-hour greasy spoons. This modern diner has a retro feel. Sit on the red padded bar stools at the chrome counter and slurp up a chocolate milkshake. Located in the theater district, a block from Union Square, Cafe Mason serves breakfast, lunch or dinner whenever you want and at affordable prices. The cooks make most things from scratch including home-made pastas, desserts, soups, and sauces. Nothing beats hot buttermilk pancakes topped with pure maple syrup at 4a.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Grubstake

Do not mistake this diner with a typical San Francisco tourist trap. Beyond the garishly painted exterior featuring the Golden Gate Bridge and a curly-cue city skyline, you will find a cozy converted railroad car that serves up some very fine burgers, fries and milkshakes. But that is not all. Portuguese specialties such as Bacalbau a Gomes de Sa (codfish with eggs and olives) can be found depending, according to the menu, on availability. The service is always good, but the crowd changes with the hour. Daytime and early evening, it is full of local professionals with their families and students from around town. Later at night, after the area bars have closed down, it becomes a bit more boisterous with people drifting in for a bite and a cup of java after a night of drinking.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Eddie's Cafe

Eddie's Cafe features simple yet utterly delicious breakfast fare. The decor is that of a classic diner complete with kitschy mugs, family atmosphere and friendly service. The biscuits are made from scratch and the hash browns are one of their most popular a la carte items. This establishment is cash only so be sure to stop by the ATM before you arrive!

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Swan Oyster Depot

Pull up a chair at the counter of Swan Oyster Depot and enjoy some of the best local Dungeness crab and Boston Clam Chowder you will ever taste. Besides clam chowder, most of the offerings on the menu board are served raw, cocktail-style. The Depot is also a fish market. You can buy a filet to cook up at home. The atmosphere is completely informal. Reservations are not accepted, but it is worth the wait.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Sears Fine Food

Sears Fine Food is a good option for breakfast till 3pm everyday for all the sleepyheads and also for the sheer joy of digging into Swedish pancakes with maple syrup and fresh whipped butter. If you are going there for breakfast, be prepared to queue up. Lunch and dinner menus are also appetizing and they have a great wine selection to go with it. Old school decor in the recently refurbished restaurant keeps the old world charm intact and the staff add an extra dose of charm.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Orphan Andy's

The red leather covering in the booths and on the chrome-stemmed stools at the counter let you know that this Castro Street institution is proudly 1950s retro. The food is classic 1950s diner fare, with hamburgers cooked to order and fries that are tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside. The milkshakes are almost too thick to get through the straw. Other sweet treats are from some of the finest bakeries in the Bay Area. The prices, too, are affordable. Located on the corner of Castro, this is a great place for people watching.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Sam's Pizza and Burgers

Sam's Pizza and Burgers offers a simple, uncomplicated menu, featuring All-American fast food for delightfully low prices. Expect to find here a wide range of burgers, pizzas and such that have brought in the locals and tourists in droves ever since 1966! These offerings, albeit lax on the health factor, are truly delicious and highly addictive. The Telegraph Hill eatery features simple and comfortable furniture that is conducive for a relaxed meal with the family or a close group of friends. Drop in and enjoy one of their freshly-grilled, juicy hamburgers with toothsome fries anytime you get the munchies - they're open all week, well into the wee hours of morning!

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Joanie's Happy Days Diner

Inspired by the hit television series Happy Days, Joanie's Happy Days Diner is a family owned and operated breakfast and lunch joint in the Fisherman's Wharf area. The cuisine is fresh and delicious with traditional breakfast fare like Belgian waffles, pancakes, French toast, omelets and more. The lunch menu features an array of burgers, sandwiches and salads. Locals and tourists alike frequent this establishment and always leave satisfied and happy.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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Louis'

Visit this casual little restaurant because of the view, the friendly service and the low prices. Located just up the road from The Cliff House, it perches on a cliffside that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Seal Rock to the west and the ruins of the Sutro Baths with a glimpse of the Marin Headlands to the north. Get a table by the picture window where you can and marvel at the wonder of the conjunction of sea and sky while you enjoy a tasty breakfast.

San Francisco, CA, United States
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