Café Greco is a very Old School kind of coffee shop right on Columbus Ave in San Francisco’s North Beach. North Beach is the Italian neighborhood in San Francisco, and there are a number of great cafes, bakeries, restaurants and bars. I would stop at Café Greco pretty regularly because even though the shop isn’t as pleasant and comfortable as the Boulange and the coffee isn’t as good as at Jackson Square Café, they were the only place that had one of my all-time favorite espresso based drinks: the Africano.
The Africano is deceptively simple: equal parts espresso and steamed milk (not foamed milk). More steamed milk than a macchiato, and less steamed milk than a dry cappuccino the balance is wonderful. The steamed milk just cuts the acidity and bitterness of the espresso and makes it smoother and silkier without overwhelming it. At the same time, this is a somewhat substantial drink, as usually we’re talking about a double dose of espresso, so you end up with something that would be awkward to drink quickly. It’s a drink that I think and espresso “purist” would enjoy while giving them the option to sip it while reading or working or whatever.
I’ve ordered the drink a number of times in other places after first having to explain to the barista exactly what I wanted them to make (usually being met with confusion), but nowhere else have I seen this drink on the regular menu which really is a shame. I very much look forward to stopping by this place when I’m in San Francisco just to see the café and the drink are every bit as good as I remember. What I may have to do though is grab the drink and walk over to the Brioche Bakery since as I recall the pastries and other non-coffee items aren’t all that great.