Warm Up and Wind Down at Cafe Franco

Cafe Franco interior

It’s a typical Tuesday afternoon at Café Franco: the hiss of steaming cappuccino milk muffles the crooning of Sam Cooke. There's a low murmur coming from over in the corner, where friends are catching up over peanut butter cookies at a long, reclaimed-wood table. Behind it all, the click-clack of laptop keys keeps an erratic beat. 

These sounds do not combine to make up what most people would call “typical hostel noise” – and that’s exactly the way Café Franco likes it. 

Cafe Franco cappucino

In fact, you might never guess that this inviting café is attached to HI-San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf. But there it is, right at the edge of the Fort Mason national park, poking off the back side of an old army-hospital-turned-hostel.

The café attracts a crowd of international travelers, Fort Mason neighbors, local students and artists, and power-walkers and picture-snappers just passing by on the park's waterfront trails. It boasts views of the Golden Gate Bridge peeking through tree branches; glimpses of historic rooftops and an out-of-commission canon aimed at the Bay. It's got provolone cheese and bacon and homemade pesto on the menu; organic greens and locally baked bread and quiche made on-site. There's SF-roasted espresso poured into foamed North Bay milk, organic pilsner and amber ale on tap, and Sonoma County pinot noir and chardonnay by the glass. 

Cafe Franco view

Whether you're staying at the hostel, or you've just wandered in through the back door, Café Franco's goal is to make you feel like lingering.

"It's just a warm, welcoming, friendly environment where you feel like you can talk to anyone," says café manager Jessica Young. 

Named after longtime hostel employee Francesco Greco, who spent nearly 30 years building a strong sense of community at HI-Fisherman's Wharf, the café has been open since 1996. But some of the most exciting changes in its history have been taking place over the last few months. The café recently installed a new set of custom-made, salvaged-wood tables; beefed up its dedication to organic, local food; and started serving beer and wine from 5:00-9:00 p.m. 

Cafe Franco pastries

Stop by Café Franco for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and see why everyone from hostel guests to Yelp users say you "can't pass up visiting this café if you're in San Fran."


If You Go