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Your Guide to San Francisco’s Best Secret Spots

Ben Lauzier

June 28, 2012


San Francisco is known for many things: its pride, its steep hills, its bridge, and its omnipresent fog. But San Francisco is also the city of hidden gems and secret spots. Tired of waiting for an hour and a half for what you thought was the perfect brunch? Ready to spice up your lunch break in one of the city’s best-kept secret oases? Follow this guide!


Secret Brunches

We all love brunches, whether it’s to recover from an exhausting week in the office or a crazy Saturday night, brunches have miraculous healing properties. But what’s worse than waiting 2 hours in line to get a chance to experience the famous Zazies or Branda’s? Lucky for you, here are some under-the-radar brunch spots:

Velo Rouge Cafe

At the corner of Arguello and McAllister, Velo Rouge Cafe is a great alternative that offers delicious breakfast burrito with black beans, bacon, and avocado until 4:30 pm. Look for the Tour de France references on the menu.

Magic Flute

Looking for a relaxing brunch in a quiet, cozy garden in Laurel Heights? This one serves delicious smoked chicken hash, poached eggs, and sun-dried tomato Hollandaise. Bon appetit!

B Star Bar

B Star is an amazing (rather) secret and original brunch spot. Stuffed Azuki Banana French Toast with red beans and mascarpone? They’ve got it. Salmon Benedict with tobio and Hollandaise? That’s here too.

Beachside Coffee Bar & Kitchen

Looking for a small getaway near Sutro? Beachside will be your spot then! Try their amazing in-house roasted coffee selection to get your caffeine fix. Pair that with their Irish breakfast of bacon, sausage, white and black pudding and grilled tomatoes for a delicious brunch.

Hidden Bars

Bourbon & Branch

Make a reservation well in advance to get the password to get into this interesting hidden bar, three blocks from Powell Station. The ambiance is so unique, the library room so gorgeous, and the cocktails so delicious that it’s hard not to fall in love with it.

The Hidden Vine

This great hole-in-the-wall is the perfect spot to enjoy a glass or two and a cheese platter in a cozy chair. Their selection of wine should have you covered, no matter your preferences.

15 Romolo

15 Romolo is a great place hidden on an alley off of Broadway, between slightly-questionable strip clubs. The pork sliders here are amazing and the cocktails refreshing yet dreadful.


Urban Oases

Looking for one of those few secret rooftop gardens you’ve heard about? There are actually no fewer than 68 privately-owned public open spaces! Here is our selection:

101 Second St.

8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
This is a gorgeous five-story greenhouse on Second and Mission with a mezzanine, café tables and chairs.

1 Kearny St. Terrace

A beautiful, brand new 11th-floor rooftop with a panoramic view of downtown and Market Street can be found here. The street-level sign is almost impossible to notice unless you are looking for it, but now you know.

Citigroup Center

This delightful French-style greenhouse features a glass roof, palm trees and two-story arches opening to Sansome and Sutter Streets. It can be the perfect retreat for busy workers of the FiDi!

343 Sansome St. Terrace

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Want to visit a 15th-floor rooftop terrace with tables, chairs, olive trees, and benches? Just follow the signs at the street entrance and in the elevator to reach this peaceful oasis on Sansome and Sacramento.


Secret Menu Items

Namu Gaji

The “loco moco” here is a delicious hamburger patty with a fried egg and gravy for $14.

Michael Mina

Carlo Splendorini, the bar manager here, has a special ‘Paris of the Orient’ cocktail. It’s made with Plymouth gin, Canton ginger liquer, lime juice, green Chartreuse, and cilantro – and it’s $11.

Hog & Rocks

Get brunch before it’s even brunch. From 10 pm to midnight, you can get a spicy fried chicken and biscuit sandwich, served with “half-and-half” fries for $15.


Don’t see your favorite hidden gem? Let us know!

Sources: Pinchit, SF Eater, 7×7, Yelp, Alphamom, ParkConservancy, NYTimes 



“ has been able to get our employees from all different departments together, to get away from our desks, recharge, and be able to return to our work, happy and full.”

—Ellen K., Employee Experience Specialist,