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HAPS Greek Letters Day Luncheon scheduled for Sun. Feb 11th at Annunciation Cathedral. Metropolitan Gerasimos will be honored.

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If you are visiting San Francisco for the first time, "welcome" to this beautiful city. If you are making a return visit "welcome back". San Franciscans love their city by the bay. San Francisco is surrounded by so much natural beauty. I do believe Greeks are drawn to beautiful cities by water and San Francisco is one of the most beautiful.  Let's take a look at "All things Greek." 

Before visiting the San Francisco Bay Area, I suggest getting connected with Greek community news and events.  Subscribing to the SF Announcements list server is a great first step. The list is used by local bay area Greek churches, Greek organizations, the Greek consulate, etc. When there are special events such a Greek musical artist performing in the city, event information is always posted.  All events are posted to the community event calendar on this website. The Greek community also uses the list to post announcements such as I am looking for a Greek speaking nanny, or a Greek speaking caregiver for a grandparent or uncle, or a Greek student looking for a Greek speaking roommate.  Please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you want to be added.

As for printed media, San Francisco Bay Area Greek community news and events are covered in the Hellenic Journal. Copies of the current issue of the Hellenic Journal can be found at most bay area Greek churches and you can certainly subscribe which I suggest you do! Support Greek media!

Greeks have been coming to San Francisco since the 1860s. Initially they were primarily sailors. Immigration increased in the 1880s and even more so after the 1906 Earthquake & Fire. A Greek town developed around 3rd Street in the SOMA district.  Greektown slowly vanished after the building of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in 1936.  A plaque was erected in 2001 at the corner of Folsom and 3rd Streets by the Hellenic American Professional Society dedicated to the Greeks that settled in the SOMA district and their contribution to the city of San Francisco.  Greeks visiting San Francisco should include this on their list of places to see.

The First Holy Trinity Church

Holy Trinity, the first Greek Orthodox Church west of Chicago, was founded in 1904 at 345 7th Street in the SOMA district.  The church was destroyed in the 1906 Earthquake and Fire. It was rebuilt in 1907 and still exists today. When Holy Trinity moved to their present day location on Brotherhood Way in 1964 the church was sold to St. Michael's Ukrainian Orthodox Church. The building's stained glass windows are original and in Greek. This church represents the beginning of the Greek community in San Francisco and over 100 years of the Orthodox faith. Greeks visiting San Francisco should include this on their list of places to see.

The Top of the Hayes Street Hill

The photograph above was taken from Alamo Square at the top of the Hayes Street hill. It is a very popular spot for tourists to take photographs. It's also famous for anyone who has run the Bay to Breakers race because the race takes runners up and over this hill. However, it's also tied to San Francisco Greek history.

At the corner of Hayes & Pierce streets, you will notice a tall apartment building painted white.  This was the site of St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral which would later become Annunciation.  In 1921, the St. Sophia community purchased the lots on the west side of Pierce street from Hayes to Fell streets.  They occupied this site from 1921 to 1928 before purchasing the Valencia Street Theater at 245 Valencia Street, their present location.

A Visit to City Hall

If you plan on visiting San Francisco City Hall, please look for the statue of San Francisco mayor George Christopher, the city's first Greek mayor. Mayor Christopher had a profound impact on the city of San Francisco and during his administration the Greek community progressed.  It's also important to note that in 1988 Art Agnos became the city's second Greek mayor.

Greek Festivals

Most bay area Greek churches hold an annual festival.  This is an great way to meet the Greek community.  Almost all of the festivals are held in May, June, or September.Annunciation Cathedral holds the only festival in San Francisco.  Ascension Cathedral in Oakland holds the largest festival in the bay area usually the second weekend in May.

Sunday Church Services

If you are in the city on Sunday and would like to attend church services,  there are two Greek Orthodox churches in San Francisco, Annunciation Cathedral and Holy Trinity Church. If you want to be introduced to Greeks in the area, I suggest sending an email to the priest before you visit.

If you are staying at a hotel and do not have a car,  Annunciation Cathedral is located close to SF Muni bus stops and BART train stops.  Holy Trinity is located in the Lake Merced area of San Francisco and difficult to get to with public transit. I would suggest going to Holy Trinity only if you have a car.

Greek Groups

If you would like to get acquainted with the Greek community in a more casual environment, we suggest joining the Greek group on meetup.com. The group holds one, sometimes two events per month and the group is quite popular.  Events are usually held at a bay area coffee house or restaurant. Many recent Greek immigrants are members of this group.

Greek Film Festival

The San Francisco Greek Film Festival is held every year in May and sponsored by various corporations and Greek organizations.  This event is very popular with the Greek community.

Greek Language Schools

Almost all Greek Orthodox churches in the bay area have a Greek language school program.  The Belmont Greek School is one the largest in the bay area featuring an immersion program.  Oakland's Greek school, Kivotos, is the largest Greek school in the East Bay.

The San Francisco Bay Area has an independent Greek language academy. The Fanari Academy of Greek Education, based in Sunnyvale, has programs for children and adults. Classes cover a broad range of topics including literature, classical and modern Greek history, grammar, composition, traditional folk songs and art.  

Greek Museums

The Hellenic Heritage Institute in San Jose is the only Hellenic museum in the bay area. The institute is dedicated to preserving Greek culture and was founded by the very dynamic Marina Moustakas. Through her efforts the city of San Jose donated a building so it could be used for the institute. The institute has many programs. Please visit their web site for more information.

Greek Coffee Houses

If you are looking for a Greek coffee house, you will not find it in San Francisco. However, a visit to coffee houses in North Beach, San Francisco's Italian district, will certainly remind you of coffee houses in Greece.  Cafe Greco, Cafe Puccini, Cafe Roma, and Stella Pastry & Cafe are very popular. All of them have outdoor seating and on a beautiful day, you can sit outside with an espresso and read the newspaper.

While you are in North Beach you should consider visiting Cafe Trieste and Cafe Vesuvio.  Both cafes have a history dating back to when beatnik era poet Jack Kerouac lived in San Francisco and when poet and painter Lawrence Ferlinghetti founded the City Lights Bookstore.   Cafe Trieste has local music entertainment Thursday nights. Both cafes are worth visiting.

Greek Restaurants

There are many wonderful Greek restaurants in the San Francisco bay area.

Orexi, located on West Portal Avenue, is the newest Greek restaurant in the city.  This neighborhood restaurant has wonderful food and service and is very close to public transit. From any hotel in downtown San Francisco all you have to do is walk down to Market Street, take the K or M train through the tunnel and get off at West Portal Avenue.

Mezes, located on Chestnut Street in the Marina district, serves a wonderful selection of small plates and they place an emphasis on great customer service.  The food is excellent. Mezes frequently holds Greek wine tasting events. For an event schedule please take a look at the web site.

Kokkari, located on Jackson Street offers fine Hellenic dining.  The owners of Kokkari also own Evvia, an exceptional Greek restaurant in Palo Alto.

When you visit North Beach, you should include Estia as one of your destinations. Estia is located in the center of the North Beach Italian district close to cafes and bars.

The Cliff House is very popular San Francisco tourist destination. Within walking distance of the Cliff House is Louis' restaurant.  There is also a cafe at the Lands End Tourist Center close to Louis' restaurant. All of these restaurants are Greek-owned by members of the Hontales family.  If your travels take you to the Cliff House area, I suggest starting your day with breakfast at Louis' restaurant, and then a walk along side the Pacific Ocean to take a few photographs.

If your travels take you to other bay area locations there are several restaurants you should consider.  In the South Bay, Opa Authentic Greek Cuisine have restaurants in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. Los Gatos, Los Altos, and Walnut Creek. The Athena Grill and Asteria Grill in Santa Clara are great choices. If your travels take you to the Santana Row Shopping Center in San Jose, consider visiting Thea. Dio Deka, in Los Gatos, offers one of the finest Greek dining experiences you will ever have. The service is exceptional. In the East Bay, consider visiting Pathos in Berkeley. Nick Eftimiou, Pathos' owner and chef, is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. Pathos features the finest organic ingredients.

I hope you enjoy your visits to the city and have fun exploring "All Things Greek in San Francisco".

Questions regarding this article? Please send an email to Jim Lucas, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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