August 26, 2005
The location has a rich history. It was a 1916 (post-earthquake) boardinghouse with a saloon on the first floor. It was called Buena Vista (Good View in Italian) and was a popular spot for workers in the near-by sardine canning factory. It was said they could have a drink here and watch for the fishing ships to come in.
Times moved forward and in 1952 the then owner Jack Koeppler was trying to perfect the recipe for a liquor coffee drink he had in the Shannon Airport - Irish Coffee. The problem was he could not get it right, the cream would not float, but would fall to the bottom. Finally, the solution was found - the cream had to be aged for 48 hours!
Today these tasty coffees are perfect. On this trip the kids had a sleep over and I headed to the Buena Vista. I sat at the bar and watched closely as the bartender made my coffee. He preheated the mug, added coffee, stirred in three sugar cubes, added a jigger of Irish Wiskey and then poured the aged whipped cream in over a spoon. Once again - it was perfect. I watched closely, but I still can't make one that tastes the same at home!
I can't think of place that says San Francisco more. You look out the window to the Golden Gate, the cable cars run right past the Buena Vista, you can see Alcatraz. The bartenders still wear white jackets and the waitress have been serving coffees here for years. I remember being here one rainy Sunday with a friend, just downing Irish Coffees. The fog was rolling in across the Golden Gate and a Cable Car rang it's bell as it glided past. I remember thinking, "this must the quintessential San Francisco moment."
The Buena Vista also serves food. I have had brunch here on Sunday and it was good, but the real centerpiece still are those outstanding Irish Coffees.
Don't miss the chance to have an Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista. It's a perfect walk from Fisherman's Wharf and I promise you the view and the perfect Irish coffee can't be beat.
From journal Weekend on the Wharf