20th century cafe

old school european charm tucked in a little corner of SF

There’s a certain allure to a central European café. A certain level of grandeur that is encapsulated in the little details. A certain level of indulgence that a regular old American café just doesn’t quite capture. 20th Century Cafe is a special place because it transports you instantly to an ambiguously central to eastern European place, where the pace slows and you find yourself lingering.

20th Century Cafe is a Cafe with a capital C. The kind of place where the act of having coffee is an activity worth savoring itself. The kind of place that could have only been dreamt up by a pastry chef. The little corner shop in Hayes Valley feels like a little piece of Europe. Marble tabletops with wooden Thonet chairs fill the intimate space. A glimmering copper espresso bar steals the show. But coffee isn’t really what you’re here for: the real draw is the eastern European cafe fare, from lunchy soups and salads to the showstopper: a truly decadent ten-layered Russian honey cake enticingly encased in a glass cake stand. Add in some inviting daylight flooding through the windows and you have yourself probably the closest you can get to borrowed nostalgia of the tumultuous century we love to romanticize.

2022 Update: 20th Century Cafe closed their location in spring 2021 and is currently on hiatus. Follow on social media for updates.

the details

Address198 Gough St, San Francisco
HoursN/A indefinitely closed 
Price$$$ – on the higher end of bakery and cafe prices
Aestheticold world charm with hints of central european grandeur

good to know

Go here for: the vibe (no but really, go pretend you’re somewhere else, it’s fun)

Order this: honey cake, pierogies, pretty much anything on the menu

Amount of time to spend: an hour or two, time slows

When to come: avoid lunch time, weekday afternoons are best for walk ins

Getting here: just a couple minutes walk from the Market St & Gough St station

Last visited: October 2019

Last updated: February 2022

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