St. Francis Fountain

For a Sweet and Retro San Francisco Experience, Check Out St. Francis Fountain

There’s no better way to experience a city than to get out and walk the streets and neighborhoods for yourself. Getting around on foot ensures that you experience many more sights, sounds, smells and sensations than while watching from behind the tinted windows of travel coaches. Walking also affords the chance to discover some of the things that make San Francisco such a wonderful place to live and visit. One of the better places to see, taste and experience a different time (and give your feet some welcome respite) is the St. Francis Fountain in the Mission District.

Known as San Francisco’s oldest ice cream parlor, the St. Francis Fountain is one of the city’s best places to grab breakfast, lunch, dinner or a refreshing homemade ice cream creation for a mid-afternoon treat. Once you get past the ever-present line out the front door, you’ll be greeted by gleaming Formica counters and stainless steel that impart a time sense of an earlier era. You’ll also be greeted by the aroma of great food. The Fountain serves a wide range of different types of comfort food whether you’re a hardcore carnivore, a dedicated vegetarian or something in-between. This unique establishment first opened in 1918, when a Greek immigrant named James Christakes opened it as a confectionery. Three generations of the Christakes family operated the Fountain as a candy store, ice cream parlor and lunch counter until 2000, when it was bought by current owners, Peter Hood and Levon Kazarian.

The new owners began an extensive renovation in 2002, preserving much of the original booths, woodwork and other details while adding decorative accents to give the place a decidedly retro look and feel. These days, you can indulge in hearty fare such as homemade corned beef hash, Reuben sandwiches and their signature Nebulous Potato Thing, as well as vegan creations like soyrizo, tofu burritos and other culinary oddities.

Depending on your mood and thirst, you can compliment your meal with a delicious soda fountain creation, a beer or champagne cocktail, an all-soy shake or just about any other kind of soft drink. You will want to leave room for dessert or skip the meal altogether and tuck into a formidable homemade ice cream creation, also served with retro flair.

If your travels (and feet) take you to San Francisco’s Mission District, make sure to stop by 2801 24th Street (the corner of York & 24th) for something to eat and drink and a chance to step into San Francisco’s past. The Fountain is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Forget Johnny Rockets and other retro pretenders. For an authentic old-time soda fountain and lunch counter experience, head over to St. Francis Fountain, and get ready to be happy.