13 Excellent Queer-Owned Businesses Recommended By San Franciscans, For San Franciscans

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

13 Excellent Queer-Owned Businesses Recommended By San Franciscans, For San Franciscans

Be sure to keep these businesses in mind during Pride month and beyond!

Pride month is here, and we couldn’t be more stoked to bring you amazing content about San Francisco’s queer community, events, and more. This week, we asked our Instagram followers for recommendations about queer-owned businesses that they love supporting in the Bay Area. Y’all didn’t disappoint, and below you’ll find a variety of businesses that proudly represent the Bay Area’s LGBTQ+ community, all while providing stellar service and products. These are all listed here in no particular order. Be sure to scroll to the bottom for a map of the businesses with local storefronts!

1. Lion Dance Café

This Chinese-Singaporean restaurant has a simple but exciting menu that is constantly changing. Owners/chefs CY Chia and Shane Stanbridge describe their unique cuisine as “authentic non-traditional,” and you’ll want to keep going back as they roll out countless creative dishes week after week! Lion Dance Cafe is currently take-away only, but you can order at their window and enjoy your meal on the shores of Lake Merrit, which is just 5 minutes away. Be sure to follow their Instagram at @liondancecafe to keep up with the menu!

Location:  380 17th St, Oakland

Hours: 5pm-8:30pm Wednesday-Saturday. Brunch every 2nd Sunday of the month from 10am-1pm. Closed Monday-Tuesday


2. Understory

This Oakland gem is a result of hard work from 8th Street Collective and Oakland Bloom, who wanted to create a cafe based on consensus-based leadership. This worker-led restaurant, bar and commissary kitchen has an impressive rotating menu featuring a variety of cuisines and local chefs. During any given week you’ll find delicious Mexican, Filipino or Moroccan food made on-site with fresh ingredients! They also have plenty of vegan and gluten free options. Understory is still take-away only, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on cocktails – their to-go boozy boba is definitely worth a taste!

Location: 528 8th St, Oakland, CA

Hours: Thursday 4-8pm, Friday 12-2pm, 4-8pm, Saturday 11am-4pm. Closed Monday-Wednesday, Sunday pop-ups TBA


3. Alexander Nurseries

Alexander Nurseries is a planting design business specializing in vertical garden design and landscaping. John Alexander and his partner Jai Alltizer grow everything from antique roses to succulents at a local, private propagation nursery, but you can find them popping up at farmers’ markets or the brand-new Kapwa Gardens. Check out @alexander_nurseries on Instagram for a sample of their beautiful designs and projects for local clients, and keep an eye out for a new website launching soon, complete with an online shop!


4. Pentacle Coffee

Pentacle Coffee doubles as a lovely coffee shop and an art gallery, making it a wonderful place to hang out in SoMa. Pandemic circumstances have made it take-away only, so for now you can get their incredible waffles, drinks, and snacks at a coffee window open on weekdays. Grab lunch to go and enjoy it at nearby Yerba Gardens! Select products are also available for delivery via bicycle courier.

Location: 64 6th St, San Francisco

Hours: 9am-2pm Monday-Friday. Closed Saturday-Sunday


5. Twin Peaks Tavern

This historic gay bar in the Castro is an absolute icon, even gaining SF Landmark status in 2013. It was the first known gay bar to have floor-to-ceiling glass windows, openly revealing its patrons’ identities and sparking major progress in the gay movement of the 1970s. This spot is so beloved that locals raised over $110,000 dollars to keep it around through the pandemic. Stop by to enjoy great cocktails and food in their outdoor dining space.

Location: 401 Castro St, San Francisco

Hours: 1pm-8pm daily


6. Empawthy

Courtesy of Alisha Ardiana

Alisha Ardiana provides excellent dog-training services for the wonderful pups of San Francisco! After working as a CA registered veterinary technician for 2 decades, she decided to follow her real passion for strengthening the bond between humans and animals. Ardiana’s philosophy is based on positive reinforcement through communication and collaboration. You can schedule a Zoom consultation with her, to be followed by Covid-compliant in-person training. Or throw her a follow at @ajardiana on Instagram

If that weren’t enough, Ardiana’s wife is also a small business owner – you can find her 3 Italian restaurants, Gialina, Ragazza and Ardiana, in San Francisco.


7. Gay4U Vegan Eats

This awesome spot in Oakland is a Trans, POC-run restaurant bringing creative dishes with a whole spectrum of influences and inspiration. Chef/owner Ginger has been serving up stellar vegan food ever since co-founding the beloved Hella Vegan Eats back in 2009. Their Instagram features everything from steaming ramen bowls with handmade noodles to beautiful sourdough donuts! Gay4U is currently serving brunch on weekends, and Trans POC people always eat free. Consider donating to Gay4U’s GoFundMe to help Ginger renovate the kitchen space and open up their back yard.

Location: 1327 Peralta St, Oakland


Hours: 10am-2:30pm Saturday-Sunday

GoFundMe Instagram

8. Alfajores Narciso

Alfajores are delicious shortbread-like sandwich cookies traditionally filled with dulce de leche. Originally hailing from the Middle East and Spain, they are today closely associated with Argentine cooking, although they are also popular in Peru and other Latin American countries. Alfajores Narciso creates all types of creative variations on the delicious alfajor, such as the ones above filled with ube jam! Other flavors include Nutella with dark chocolate and toasted almonds, and of course the classic dulce de leche. They also make dozens of fun designs with different colors, shapes, and themes! Contact them at @alfajoresnarciso on Instagram to order, as their website is still in the works.


9. Blaví

Braz Simplicio and Salmon Mendes recently opened this small clothing company in San Francisco. They love seeing “fashion as freedom” and aim to bring exciting, fun clothing designs that can be shipped nationwide. Their selection includes button-down shirts in fun prints, jeans, bomber jackets, t-shirts, sweatshirts and sweaters, and more. Take a look at their catalog for some outfit inspo!


10. Local Brewing Co.

This brewery is a favorite among craft beer aficionados, and for good reason. They create approachable small batch beers with high-quality, local ingredients. Co-founder and head brewer Regan Long has brought excellent creations to the Bay Area for years, and you’d be remiss not to try one of her hazy IPAs. Summer has also brought Let’s Get Tropical, a blonde ale with lovely fruity flavors that are amazing in slushie form. Don’t forget the full house menu featuring rotating snacks, sandwiches and comfort food!

Location: 69 Bluxome St, San Francisco

Hours: 4pm-9pm Monday-Friday, 12pm-8:30pm Saturday-Sunday


11. Casements Bar

This unconventional Irish bar just opened in 2020, but you might already know Casements for their awesome Irish coffees! Not only does this great Mission spot serve up a variety of fun and creative cocktails, but you can sip away on their socially-distanced patio out back. And with over 80 fine Irish whiskeys, you really can’t go wrong by joining their whiskey club.

Location: 2351 Mission St, San Francisco

Hours: 4pm-10pm Monday-Tuesday, 4pm-12am Wednesday-Thursday, 3pm-1am Friday, 2pm-1am Saturday, 2pm-10pm Sunday


12. SF Plants & Flowers

SF Plants is a recent addition to the 15-year-old Bella Fiora Floral Design Studio, helmed by SF native Dino Bocala and his partner, Irishman Mark Leahy. Stop by or check out their website to order a stunning floral arrangement, or pick out a beautiful houseplant for yourself in person. Their storefront is certainly worth a visit, because they have countless exciting and unique plants that are super fun to explore.

Location: 1475 Polk St, Suite 7, San Francisco

Hours: 11am-6pm Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Monday.


13. Arcana

Whether or not you have a green thumb, you’ll be blown away by this breathtaking new plant store on Mission Street. Arcana  is a newly-opened urban greenhouse featuring dozens of thriving plants, beautifully crafted pottery and gardening tools, and cozy couches for lounging. Iranian asylum seeker, queer activist, artist, and SF standout Naz Khorram founded Arcana this year as a “mystical shared living room experience.” They have exciting plans to develop Arcana into a restaurant, tea house, and gallery, as well as an event space for political and social gatherings, kids’ planting workshops, vegan cooking classes, and much more.

Location: 2512 Mission St, San Francisco

Hours: 11am-6pm Wednesday-Sunday. Closed Monday-Tuesday



Featured image: @arcanasf via Instagram

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