Are These the Last 24 Hours Restaurants in San Francisco?
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San Francisco has been slowly losing restaurants that are open 24 hours. We lost the Baghdad Cafe in 2011, The Lucky Penny last year and Sparky’s was the most recent casualty in February. While there are always fast food places like Jack In the Box and Subway that are weirdly open 24 hours, and the two remaining Denny’s, there are still a few remaining local spots that are always open. If you don’t include doughnut shops or the places like El Faralito that stay open until 3am, the count is low enough that we can’t even do a “best” list. So here is the list of all the non-fast food, locally-owned, truly open 24 hours places to get your grub on any time of day.
1. Orphan Andy’s (Castro)
Orphan Andy’s has been a mainstay in the Castro since the 70’s and hopefully it can hang on as the last 24 hours option in the neighborhood. Owned by spouses Bill Pung and Dennis Zieball who’ve lived in the Castro for over 40 years and provide a traditional greasy spoon menu to late night eaters. People rave about the banana chocolate chip pancakes, saying they are good even when you are sober. You are just as likely to be sharing the counter with folks stumbling in from the clubs as drag queens finally getting to eat after their performances.
2. DNA Pizza (SOMA)
DNA pizza is the rare 24 hour place that is expanding. The original 24 hour location at 11th and Folsom next to DNA Lounge and a second location that opened just this week Folsom and 5th (4pm-4am). Its the go-to option to stumble into after the clubs in SOMA close. They have totally decent pizza, whole and by the slice, as well as sandwiches. They also always have vegan and gluten free pizza by the slice. The first time I went there was on a date with a vegan dude who got us a Lyft from a bar in Bernal just to drunkenly get a slice of of vegan pizza. I got a slice of the carnivore and enjoyed it a bit too much. The relationship did not last.
3. Silver Crest Donut Shop, Restaurant and Bar (Bayview)
I know I said I wasn’t going to include donuts shops but Silver Crest is really a diner that also has donuts. The general consensus is that the donuts are nothing special and breakfast is the way to go. It’s been in Bayview since 1970 and while the owners have a key to the front door, it hasn’t been used once since the day it opened. The drink of choice is shots of ouzo, in case you need to start drinking again once you get there.
4. Lori’s Diner (Two 24 hour locations, Union Square and Civic Center)
Both the Sutter and Mason Street locations of Lori’s diner are open 24 hours and have kitchy 50’s style decor including the red booths and checked black and white tiled floors. You can get a wide array of diner staples like egg breakfast, burgers and onion rings, but reviewers seem to love the corn beef hash and the garlic fries. I have actually eaten at Lori’s, more than once, but my memory of whatever was ordered is clouded by haze of alcohol.
5. Mel’s Drive In (Marina/Cow Hollow)
Mel’s first opened in San Francisco in 1947 on Van Ness and has such a classic 50’s look it was used as the diner in the movie American Graffiti. Today Mel’s has four San Francisco locations but the Lombard Street restaurant is the only one open 24 hours. Its the only 24 hour option on the north end of town. The burgers are always a safe bet but I’ve heard mixed things the further you stray on the menu. I have never ordered anything but the patty melt there and I will probably never order anything else.
6. Pinecrest Diner (Union Square)
The main attraction to Pinecrest diner seems to be its proximity to Ruby Skye and Slide. You have been warned. My 10th high school reunion was in a hotel on the same block. A couple of friends and I escaped to Pinecrest Diner after a fist fight broke out. It was the highlight of the evening.
7. Cafe Mason (Union Square)
I don’t know why Union Square seems to be the hub of the remaining 24 hour diners. Maybe its all the jet lagged tourists who want to eat at random times of the day. This is the one spot on the list I’ve never actually been to. Judging only by what I can find online the late night menu consists of fried american style appetizers and one pasta option. The decor appears to be modeled after their menu, an odd combination of classic diner and what Americans in the ’90s thought of as “European”.
That’s it. There are only seven 24 hours places left in SF that aren’t doughnut shops, fast food, or a large franchise/chain. I implore the drinkers of the City to unite and eat out more at 3am to save San Franciscans from the dystopian future of Jack-in-the-Box being our only 24 hour option.
Let us know if we’re missing any by telling us in the comments.