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BY ALISSA MILLER
Top 10 best San Francisco waterfront restaurants.
San Francisco is a beautiful metropolis full of amazing waterfront views. To the north, gaze upon the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island; to the east, you’ll see the Bay Bridge and San Francisco Bay; and to the west, you can’t miss the wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean.
The best place to admire the stunning water views is from a waterfront restaurant, where you can sit awhile and just enjoy the waves rolling in and out. There are so many waterfront restaurants in San Francisco, you can’t walk a block without hitting a few, but some are better than others and you deserve to be choosy.
If you’re planning a trip to the Golden City, no doubt you’ll want to visit some of the best restaurants on the water San Francisco has to offer. You can’t go wrong with any of these — from fine dining and chic cuisine to small-time cafés and bars, these are the 10 best San Francisco waterfront restaurants to be found.
Pier 23 Café
If you’re looking for a classic San Francisco waterfront experience, look no further than Pier 23 Café. It’s a down-to-earth, regular-Joe kind of place that has embraced its humble origins and worked hard to retain its classic vibes in the midst of celebrity. And a celebrity it is — little Pier 23 Cafe has been featured by Anthony Bourdain and Guy Fieri on their Food Network shows, and local and national celebrities regularly stop in for a visit. Their food is delicious and their views are second to none — although not on Fisherman’s Wharf (which is notoriously busy and at times noisy), they are just down the way, offering the same views without all the crowds. $$
Location: 23 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Peruvian cuisine is heavily influenced by the wide variety of ethnic backgrounds found in Peru, including the Inca, as well as Spanish and other European cultures. Located on historic Pier 1½, La Mar has a menu inspired by Peruvian classic dishes, with a sea-to-table philosophy that results in some of the freshest local seafood being served in a way you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Offering views of San Francisco Bay that can’t be beat, indoor and outdoor seating, and a wide menu of Peruvian cocktails, La Mar is one of the best restaurants on the water San Francisco has to offer. $$$
Location: Pier 1½ The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
Hog Island Oyster Co.
When it comes to fresh oysters, tourists and locals agree that it’s hard to beat Hog Island Oyster Co. Their oysters are raised and harvested locally, at their own oyster farm just an hour outside the city. Hog Island’s philosophy and aquaculture practices are sustainable and eco-friendly, and produce some of the most delicious oysters (and also clams) around. From their oyster bar in the historic Ferry Building, the views of San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge are stunning, and the seafood is delicious. Whether you’re seated indoors or out, you’ll leave Hog Island Oyster Co. with a happy tummy. $$
Location: Ferry Building #11, San Francisco, CA 94111
Housed in a historic city landmark originally built in 1925, the Beach Chalet was constructed in the Spanish colonial revival style and is situated right across from Ocean Beach, offering unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean. The restaurant is on the second floor facing the ocean, and the menu is a chic combination of local seafood and farm-to-table cuisine, perfect for foodies and health nuts alike. Bonus: they have their own onsite brewery, so the handcrafted ales are sure to be good. As far as San Francisco waterfront restaurants go, this is one of the best. $$$
Location: 1000 Great Highway, San Francisco, CA 94121
A fixture on Fisherman’s Wharf, Scoma’s is a family-owned establishment that has been operated by members of the Scoma family since 1965. Scoma’s harkens back to a time when Fisherman’s Wharf was for fishermen (not the tourist hot-spot it is today), and the restaurant supports local fishermen by buying their catch directly, in a pier-to-plate philosophy that has served them well. The waterfront views off Fisherman’s Wharf are second to none, and the food at Scoma’s is delicious — there are even several menu items that are still prepared using Mama Scoma’s recipes, including their famous clam chowder and local-favorite cioppino. $$$$
Location: 1965 Al Scoma Way, San Francisco, CA 94133
Meaning “flirt” or “infatuation” in Spanish, Coqueta is a chic tapas-style restaurant on the Embarcadero. Serving Spanish-inspired cuisine, wine, and cocktails, paella is their specialty dish — and their menu makes it clear they need ample time to properly prepare it (30-40 minutes!). With sweeping views of San Francisco Bay, a classy and modern atmosphere, indoor and outdoor seating, an award-winning chef, and some wild Spanish-style mixology, Coqueta is one of the best restaurants on the water San Francisco has to offer. $$$
Location: Pier 5 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94111
Fog Harbor Fish House
This award-winning restaurant offers some of the best seafood in the city, with “views of the Golden Gate Bridge on the side!” From their prime location on Pier 39, locally owned and family-run Fog Harbor Fish House guarantees that every table offers a view of the Golden Gate, a not-to-be-missed San Francisco landmark. Guests enjoy complimentary sourdough bread baked in-house, and a menu of high-quality 100% sustainable seafood, including their famous clam chowder — a multi-year winner of the People’s Choice Award for best clam chowder in the city. $$$
Location: Pier 39, San Francisco, CA 94133
Red’s Java House
Red’s has been flipping burgers on Pier 30 since the 1950s, and not much has changed since then. They still serve burgers, hot dogs, and chili, they’re still a local favorite, and they still serve up some of the fastest grub in the city. Red’s Java House offers sidewalk seating so guests can see the stunning Bay Bridge over San Francisco Bay up close and personal. It’s a small place with an old-timey vibe and a down-to-earth attitude, and it always draws a crowd when the Giants play at home. Nobody leaves Red’s unhappy. $$
Location: Pier 30, San Francisco, CA 94105
A fixture on the San Francisco waterfront since 1979, Greens is a renowned vegetarian fine-dining establishment with a long history of female executive chefs. Their culinary approach is to “celebrate vegetables,” and they are committed to ensuring every guest in their dining room doesn’t miss meat. Their daily menu features fresh, organic produce from local sources and wine produced using sustainable viticulture practices. With views of the Pacific Ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge, plus a dining room full of artistic, handcrafted furniture, a meal at Greens is one you’re sure to remember forever. $$$
Location: 2 Marina Boulevard Building A, San Francisco, CA 94123
For that lavish, fancy, upscale night out on the town in the Golden City, Waterbar is the place to go. It’s a special place with an extravagant menu and swanky environment right on the Embarcadero, with panoramic views of San Francisco Bay, Treasure Island, and the city’s gorgeous skyline. Seafood is on the menu, but it’s part of the decor as well — Waterbar’s focal point (aside from the stunning view) is dramatic floor-to-ceiling aquariums, full of Pacific marine life. Their extensive menu features sustainable seafood, and each of the fresh-catch items is listed along with where and how the fish was caught. Waterbar is one of the best San Francisco waterfront restaurants you’ll find. $$$$
Location: 399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105