Oh, It’s Tops Coffee Shop! You are absolutely perfect, with your wooden booths and ceiling, lunch counter and stools, and vintage neon sign! Where have you been all my life?
Oh . . . right there on Market Street. All my life. And a few decades before my existence to boot. Well . . . why doesn’t anybody inform me of these things?!?!?! Maybe my friends just don’t want me to be happy.
Luckily there’s San Francisco Heritage, and their Legacy Bars & Restaurants program, which is how I belatedly discovered this totally classic and completely charming eatery in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco. I heard of the program when contacted by San Francisco Heritage for permission to use some of my photos--7 of which now appear in the handy little map/pamphlet they have published with 100 legacy eating and drinking establishments in it. You can see my growing collection of photos from those businesses here.
But back to my new love--It’s Tops opened in 1935 when, unbelievably, it was much smaller than it is now. There was no separate kitchen and dining area then, according to the restaurant’s website. The luxury of such separation had to wait until an expansion into an adjoining business space “about a decade’ later. And the lovely neon sign dates from then as well.
The menu offers your basic diner fare, but has some fun twists--like the various combinations you can get for your pancakes involving chocolate chips, peanut butter, bananas, and whipped cream. And they take the “coffee shop” thing seriously, serving up espresso drinks and an espresso milkshake, which I can’t wait to get back and try sometime.
My cheeseburger, Dick’s Double, and onion rings were quite tasty, as were my daughter’s chocolate chip pancakes. And I had no problem finding parking right nearby--although I think next time we go, we will ride the trolley to get there, since it runs down Market Street right in front of the place.
And hopefully there will be many, many next times. I’m not sure how I managed to go so long without being aware of the existence of this place, but now that I do know of it, I am going to try to make up for all those years of neglect.