South Beach Café, San Francisco
- Melanie Wong
Visiting the City this summer, my friend Michelle suggested we get-together at South Beach Café (Embarcadero and Townsend) for coffee, not far from where she used to live. Once inside, I felt like I was in Italy --- mural-painted walls, mosaic-topped tables, Italian pop tunes, the soccer game on TV, and the aromas of espresso and good cooking. Even though I wasnt planning to lunch, everything in the display case looked so good and freshly made, I had to try something.
I picked the vegetarian canneloni, $5.95. Two pinwheels of pasta wrapped with ricotta and spinach around a carrot stick axis topped with red sauce are served with a side of chopped Romaine tossed with balsamic vinaigrette, plus bread and butter. Light yet satisfying, it hit the spot and I was willing to ignore the mushy California black olive slices on my salad. Other choices on the chalkboard were pizzas, panini, antipasti, salads, soups and pastas. The fancy pastries looked really great but I didnt indulge in dessert this time.
Michelle mentioned that there are always Italian customers in house, as we watched another vanload pile in. We thought the café must be highlighted in an Italian guidebook for San Francisco. She said her favorite meal here is breakfast.
This will be a useful find. Located across from the pier where the charter boats embark and less than two blocks from Pac Bell park, it would be a good place to pick up provisions for an outing on the bay or get a bite before or after the ball game. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; sidewalk seating; plentiful metered street parking (except on game days).
I used to work near there (admittedly about 2 years ago, so my info could well be out of date), but I always thought the South Beach Cafe was fine if one happened to be there and didn't want to go far, but certainly not worth anything like a special trip.
Admittedly more expensive, but only a block away, the Town's End restaurant could actually be worth an occasional trip (though again, my information is 2 years old and I haven't been back since then... so perhaps it isn't really worth a trip after all!).