Celebrating Cinema: Two SF watering holes that hold a fascination with film

Text by Gabriel Cothes

Foreign Cinema —— For ten years the Mission district’s Foreign Cinema has melded the worlds of film, libation and cuisine. This restaurant and movie house has survived economic highs and lows, shrugged off the latest trends and has become a fixture in the SF dining scene. Friends, couples, and lovers gather in the enclosed courtyard on any given night. They relax, drink, and feast while watching some of the best foreign and independent films ever made. One night it may be Alain Delon; on another, Kurosawa. California and Mediterranean inspired dishes are accompanied by an impressive selection of raw oysters. The weekend brunch has become a favorite in the local restaurant industry. On any weekend one may find bartenders, servers, and cooks nursing hangovers and sharing stories. Foreign Cinema’s unique blend of film, art, and cuisine is attractive to all. Becoming an institution is no easy task; to do so, one must stand out and provide an experience like no other. Foreign Cinema does this with ease.
2534 Mission St, www.foreigncinema.com

Tosca Bar —— No San Francisco watering hole attracts more faces from the big screen than North Beach’s legendary Tosca. Ask anyone in the city about Tosca and they will always tell you who they just saw there. Sometimes it’s Sean Penn; other times, Samuel L. Jackson… or maybe Mr. Coppola himself just dropped by. Walk through those deco doors and it becomes clear why Tosca would attract. This bar is that classic spot that Hollywood has tried to depict time after time. Enter and suddenly you are on-set. Brass fixtures fall from the cavernous ceiling, illuminating the venue with a sepia glow. White jacketed bartenders accent the neverending bar. Though any drink can be had, the setting and, consequently, the jukebox demand that you stick to the classics. Frank Sinatra and Jerry Vale are both on heavy rotation. The dark wood bar opens up into a parlor lined with red Naugahyde booths. These back booths are perfect for hiding away with a good friend or just watching the drinkers come and go. Tosca, like so much of North Beach, is best when you have it to yourself. The weekend crowds are young, loud and tend to drown out the local color. Hit this place up on a weeknight and the setting is perfect, it surrounds you and makes you feel like you are part of something unmistakeably cool. On one of these nights you can’t help but think you are in the right place at the right time to run into one of your favorite stars.  242 Columbus Ave, 415 986 9651