Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Aug 10, 2007 11:39 AM

Little Joe's at 5th and Mission or Howard?

I was driving down 5th St. the other day and saw a Little Joe's Baby Joe's sign in a window at either Mission or Howard. Is it open and, if so, has anybody tried it? There are a few Little Joe's specialties that I liked (chicken livers, for one) and miss. So, any feedback?


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Edit: you know I walk by 5th/Mission pretty often and I've never noticed Little/Baby Joe's. Is it related to the place that use to be in North Beach? Interesting...

    3 Replies
    1. re: ML8000

      Little Joe's, which used to be in North Beach, moved to Van Ness. It closed on Van Ness a few months ago with plans to move elsewhere. Maybe it's landed.

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Totally missed the VN location. Heck, I hadn't been to Little Joe's in NB for 15 years at least. If it's moderately priced, similar to NB, it will be a nice addition to the area.

        1. re: ML8000

          If the burger is still made the same way, I can recommend that. Here's my post on it,

          Otherwise, the other stuff was hit or miss for me on Van Ness.

          Little Joe's
          1106 Market St, San Francisco, CA

    2. Yes, indeed. Little Joe's, formerly of North Beach and an unsuccessful run on Van Ness has moved into the Pickwick hotel across from the Chronicle Building at 5th and Mission. Haven't tried it yet myself though.

      2 Replies
      1. re: BrandonFirestone

        Wasn't that a Thai place? I can't remember...that corner always seemed dead and I never paid attention.

        FYI: across the street, at the SF Mint, the street behind/around it is going to become a ped-plaza (no cars) and nice restros are suppose to open up...and the Mint is to become the SF History Museum. I heard Chez Maman was suppose be there...but don't hold me to it.

        1. re: ML8000

          Yeah, it was a Thai place for about 15 minutes. Its been a dead corner for a long time and I can't imagine with all the competition in the Westfield mall it will ever do much unless the food is a draw.

          I'm excited myself about the museum in the Mint, the Mint Plaza and all the new eats going in on that block! Its great to see the gentrification working its way slowly down Market Street.

      2. Omigosh, yes indeed, it is Little Joe’s! “Rain or Shine There’s Always a Line”

        I recognized Frank’s picture, even with a bit of white hair.

        I first ate at Little Joe’s in S. F. when he was on Columbus Ave above Grant Ave. Then, he moved to Broadway between Columbus Ave and Kearney. Later on, he suddenly appeared in Palo Alto at the foot of California Ave and then back to S. F. on Van Ness Ave. So, now, it’s on Fifth and Mission!

        I used to enjoy sitting at the counter at Columbus Ave and Broadway enthralled with watching the chefs putting on a great show. Thanks to seeing many performances of the favorite “caciuco” show, I luckily learned to do my own version at home! Even at home, it ain’t a cheap dish – live Dungeness crab, sea scallops, live clams, large prawns, halibut, white wine, etc.. I particularly like Little Joe’s caciuco because he doesn’t swamp it with tomatoes. The Palo Alto Little Joe’s unfortunately did not have a counter and I thought the ambience wasn’t the same as the old places in North Beach. The pictures in the web site seem to suggest that there is no counter at Fifth and Mission. If so, it’s a shame!

        3 Replies
        1. re: CYL

          Here's a first report on the new location in another thread,

          1. re: CYL

            I recall the Columbus Avenue location fondly, too. As I recall it, you didn't just wait in line; you camped out, New York style, behind one of the occupied stools and waited for the person to leave. The cooking at Little Joe's and at May Dito's Columbus Cafe on Broadway were two of the best shows in North beach.

            1. re: Gary Soup

              I recall a bad date there...up to then however i enjoyed the huge plates of pasta.

          2. Hounders,

            Bumping this thread- has anyone been recently? I'm a former BayArean and would be nostalgiac for a trip back for caciccucco. What else is informal, affordable and fun for a large group (possibly 20) near Moscone Center or Union Square?

            2 Replies
            1. re: e_bone

              When I first moved to North Beach in the seventies, I was a regular at Little Joe's. Paulo was the chef and Franco was his sidekick. It was magical. The afore mentioned caciuco, the chicken and polenta with olives, the calamari in its own ink. Even the chicken liver, something I've never eaten before or since, was divine.

              I remember one night when Paulo and Franco left the stoves, walked out onto Columbus and started waving and mocking their customers through the window.

              But Paulo was the genius behind the place, and from the time Franco took over it was never the same. I went to the Broadway version a couple of times, but that was it. The food just didn't have the edge it had when Paulo was in charge.

              1. re: e_bone

                I recently had a veal parmagiana that I was not happy with...don't know if this reflects on their other offerings...whether it was an off night etc...I look forward to hearing others' experiences....meanwhile I am still waiting for Joe's to open after its' fire...

              2. My favorite restaurant in San Francisco was Little Joe's on Broadway. I loved to sit at the counter and beat the long line waiting to get a seat ... but the counter was the best seat in the house watching the chef's make their fabulous flaming creations. It was an absolute culinary education to watch them work. My original favorite was Joe's Caciucco-Italian Fish Stew and it is what I recommend when I bring a guest for the first time because it such an interesting dish. I fell in love with the calamari saute. I was so disappointed when Franco left Broadway and my SF trips just weren't the same. He reopened on Van Ness, it was good, but not the same. I found Franco again at 5th and Mission at the Chatwick Hotel this past summer and was delighted. I live in Chicago now, but when i am in San Francisco, Little Joe's is still my favorite restaurant. The calamari saute was just as good as I ever had it last week. Franco is sitting at the full bar making sure everything is going right. I do miss not being able to watch the cooks preparing the meal. I think if he opened up his kitchen to see the meals being prepared, it would more than triple his business. Just a block from the Powell Street BART station, can't wait to visit there again. The prices were fair -- $13 for my calamari saute and a $1.00 extra for the ravioli with his own fabulous meat sauce -- can't wait to visit it there again. This is again one of my favorite restaurants.