Best Diners with Booths in SF

Published: November 22, 2013

For me, a greasy spoon just isn't the same without a big ol' booth to get comfortable in. A diner is about the whole experience, not just the food. These diners not only give you a good, stick to your ribs, old school meal, but they also wrap you in the warm, cushy embrace of a big vinyl booth. And I'm in heaven.

  1. It's Tops

    From the outside It's Tops looks like a storybook diner, complete with picket fence and dollhouse windows. With a marquee that claims "AWESOME HOT CAKES" and a datestamp that says "Since 1935", the interior gives no sign of modernization since the 1930s, which is fine by me because this means booths! Big banquet booths with a window on the world of Octavia and Market Streets provide the perfect tableside entertainment as you enjoy a malted and a California Pig. One of these days I'm defintiely going for their famous bacon and cheddar stuffed waffles. It's important to have goals in life. Booth and counter seating; booths range in size from four person to six. Get a booth at the window for dinner and a show.

  2. The Grubstake

    Right off the beaten path of Polk Street, stumbling distance from the increasingly too-cool bars but hidden enough so you can always find a warm, welcoming booth. A former train car, this low-ceilinged secret is open late into the night and offers some uniquely Portuguese dishes, but I would grab a booth and stick to a late night breakfast, as is my wont. Occassionally I will take my love of breakfast foods to new heights and settle on the Nugget Burger: a cheeseburger topped with a fried egg and bacon. Booth, table, and counter seating; booths are on the smaller size (2-4 people) and perfect for an intimate late night burger-love session.

  3. Lucky Penny


    If I walk into a restaurant and it's nothing but booths as far as the eye can see, I'm happy. If it's got a menu that serves breakfast all day, I'm thrilled. I'm not the first person to fall in love with the Lucky Penny judging from the multi-generational patrons that fill it 24/7. Where else can you snack on potato skins at 2 in the morning while watching Titanic on TBS and feel good about the world? Booth and counter seating; booths range in size from two person to eight.

Each of these greasy beasts has it's charms but for the best all around experience I have to say that It's Tops delivers. Their central location is entertaining and lively, yet the experience of walking into It's Tops feels oddly intimate, like you're stepping into a time capsule. Leave the hustle and bustle of Market Street and settle into your own little slice of vinyl loveliness and treat yourself.