North Beach Shopping

North Beach Shopping

North Beach is considered San Francisco’s Little Italy but there is so much more to this neighborhood than fine Italian restaurants, deli’s and pizza joints. Of course, Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s City Lights Booksellers and Publishers at 261 Columbus Avenue is the most famous bookstore in San Francisco. It refers to itself as “a sort of library that sells books.” Founded in 1953, it has become a venerated and celebrated landmark. With its publication of Beat poet Allen Ginsburg‘s, “Howl,” and subsequent vindication in an obscenity trial, City Lights continues to promote free thought and free speech into the 21st century. Open 10 a.m.-Midnight 415/362-8193

101 Music, at 1414 Grant Avenue, stocks over 10,000 music related items in an absolutely packed store, with vintage posters and rows of guitars hanging over LP’s, tapes and CD’s. Even reel-to-reel tapes and 8 tracks! They also sell analog equipment, turntables, receivers and speakers. This is an audio-phile’s nirvana. If you have the time, they have crates and crates of vinyl to comb through. 415/392-6369

If vintage clothes are your passion, Old Vogue, at 1412 Grant Avenue, next door to 101 Music, is definitely worth a look. This store gets rave reviews for the selection of men’s and women’s gently worn clothing in pristine condition. The selections keep changing but the cashmere sweaters, men’s jackets and vintage hats keep customers coming back for more. 415/392-1522

Upper Grant is home to small unique stores and boutiques like Biordi Arts, which sells handmade, hand painted Majolica pottery from Italy (412 Columbus Ave. 415/392-8096) and Maccharini Creative Design and Jewelry, in business since the 1930‘s, creating original, handmade, eclectic jewelry and art pieces with African and tribal influences. 1450 Grant Avenue, 415/982-2229.

Do try some of the culinary mainstays in the North Beach area, such as Mo’s Gourmet Burgers, a diner featuring 11 combinations of big, delicious and juicy burgers. 1322 Grant Avenue, 415/788-3779. (Mo’s serves hearty breakfasts, too.)

Mara’s Café is a local coffee shop with great pastry. L’Osteria del forno serves big slices of delicious thin crust pizza. Two slices will stem hunger until dinner for only $6.00.

For dinner, The Stinking Rose: A Garlic Restaurant, at 321 Columbus Avenue, has been pleasing the taste buds of garlic connoisseurs for many years. They “season their garlic with food,“ using 3,000 pounds of garlic is served here every month in dishes such as forty clove garlic chicken, garlic filet mignon chili, Italian garlic meatloaf, and all entrees are served with garlic Yukon gold mashed potatoes. If that’s not enough garlic for you, there’s Gilroy Famous Garlic Ice Cream with caramel mole sauce. Reservations: 415/781-7673