Tosca Café

Words by Simon Difford on 22-Oct-2014

Address: 242 Columbus Avenue, btwn Broadway & Pacific Ave, San Francisco, California, 94133, United States
Tel: +1 415 986 9651
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Sun 5pm-2am
Door: Open door
Style: Cafe bar
Recommended for: Historic interest
Price guide: Middling
Food: Plates & dishes
Established: 1921


This authentic, 40s bar is one of the city's oldest venues and a glamorous place to enjoy a late night bevvy or two. It is named after the Puccini opera and the vintage jukebox has a suitably classic playlist - Glenn Miller and Rat Pack standards or opera highlights. If you prefer hip hop to big band, you'd do better to end the night elsewhere.

In early 2013, a group of New York gastropub operators signed a 10-year lease to take over Tosca Café in order to save it from debt induced closure. Tosca reopened in 2014 after a sympathetic restoration which polished its fading glamour. A print of Venice's Grand Canal and paintings depicting scenes from the eponymous opera look over an authentically elderly bar. Seating is diner style, in red vinyl booths. The espresso machine is aged and the cash register antique.

Tosca is famous for its house drink made with steamed milk, chocolate and brandy, it makes a great nightcap for the local businessmen, arty Cisco types and scattered celebrities who frequent the bar.