If you are like me, you probably enjoy finding the best and greatest coffee shops and cafes wherever you are. Part of what makes traveling so fun for me is discovering new unique spots to grab a drink or dessert, and witnessing internet-famous cafes first hand to develop my own personal opinion of them.
This past month, I had the opportunity to try several of these places while in San Francisco. So here’s my honest opinion of 3 Instagram-Famous Cafes in SF!
1. BOBA GUYS
When we walked up to Boba Guys, we realized what we thought was the end of the line was actually the just beginning. Behind us were over thirty people waiting in a line that continued down the street. Even for such a small cafe in an unusually hidden location, it is obvious this spot is popular.
The shop itself is quite tiny (at least, the Union Square location) which surprised me a little. But I like its intimate, city-feel. Most boba places are large and loud, but this one is cute and simple.
Pictured above is one of their most popular items, the Raspberry Matcha Latte. We also tried the mango matcha drink. Personally, I thought both drinks were great, but I preferred the mango matcha over the raspberry latte because it was more tea-like. Neither of the drinks were too sweet, and both had great flavor. I was instructed to mix the raspberry drink before drinking to blend the matcha, berry, and milk together. I appreciate that you are given the drink with its aesthetic gradient first, making it an ideal Instagram spot too.
THE VERDICT: Worth It!
I like the drink selection at Boba Guys. They offer a lot of drinks that frankly you can’t find anywhere else. Even though it is a bit pricey and you may have to wait in line, this is a spot I would definitely return to.
2. MR HOLMES BAKEHOUSE
Another tiny cafe hidden in the streets of San Francisco is Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. There are multiple locations throughout the world (Seoul, I’m coming for you), but this is the first that I have personally visited. We came early in the morning as instructed by a SF local, and it was relatively empty. The smell of fresh pastries and coffee fills the shop, and there is a beautiful selection of treats for you to try.
The bakehouse has its own girly charm to it with some statement decorations, namely the “I Got Baked” sign and the tile flooring, but overall it’s pretty simple. We came back an hour later for the cruffin (crossaint muffin) which they apparently only serve after 9 am, and the line was suddenly down the block. The cruffin, it turns out, is just a muffin-shaped crossaint, with a cream filling flavor my friends & I could not identify and honestly weren’t really a fan of.
THE VERDICT: Not Worth It
There are better spots to get a pastry in the morning, and my friends & I were all underwhelmed by the cruffin. I’m not interested in waiting in a long line for something I can get somewhere else. I do like the vibe, though, and it’s a good spot for a photo, but aside from just being a tourist location, it’s not very impressive.
3. PHILZ COFFEE
Philz was probably the most “normal” coffee shop that I visited in SF in terms of ambience. When I walked in, I was expecting a long line and a bunch of tourists taking pictures, but instead there were just locals grabbing a coffee or sitting down with their laptop to do some work.
We ordered the mint mojito coffees, one iced and one hot, as well as one of their black coffee drinks with mint. While I don’t normally enjoy coffee with cream, the mint mojitos were lightly sweet and not too heavy on the milk, and the mint added a refreshing twist. The iced drink is probably their most popular and it was pretty delicious. Not to mention, the staff was super friendly and helpful. I was even able to adjust the sugar level of my drink! The service and uniqueness of Philz is reason enough to go back.
THE VERDICT: Worth It!
Philz is another spot that has really unique drinks and made me feel like I was truly experiencing the city. I’d recommend giving it a shot no matter what your coffee preferences are.
Whether or not your travel goals include finding the best coffee and desserts in the city, I highly recommend visiting Boba Guys and Philz Coffee if you’re in SF.