Restaurants with a View
Ingredients for a magical meal on the town: Take one of America’s most vibrant cities. Add 5,360 restaurants. Mix thoroughly with romantic waterfront vistas, towering bridges and mysterious fog. The result is San Francisco, voted "America’s Favorite City" by readers of Condé Nast Traveler year in, year out. One reason the City by the Bay is a perennial favorite is its mix of amazing eateries and fantastic scenery. Here’s a guide to finding amazing meals at restaurants with breathtaking views of the bay, the ocean and landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge.
Top of the Mark In 1939 hotelier and owner, George D. Smith, transformed the 19th floor penthouse suite of the Mark Hopkins Hotel into a glass-walled cocktail lounge. The menu includes an intoxicating selection of martinis (100, to be exact), and a three-course prix-fixe dinner offered with an amuse-bouche, choice of starter and entrée, and dessert. Option for wine pairing is also available.
Top of the Mark, InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco, One Nob Hill (999 California St.).
The View Lounge Guests may enjoy cocktails, light snacks and a panoramic view of the City on top of the San Francisco Marriott, including great views of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Yerba Buena Gardens and other jewels of South of Market.
The View Lounge, San Francisco Marriott, 55 Fourth St.
Alioto’s No. 8 As one of the first restaurants on Fisherman’s Wharf (number eight to be exact), Alioto’s has been a seafood fixture since 1925 and is the birthplace of “cioppino,” a savory fish stew that has become a San Francisco tradition. The restaurant has views of both sides of the bay. On one side, diners can look up at Coit Tower and straight ahead at the Bay Bridge, and on the other, is a clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Diners see everything just above sea level, with the hustle and bustle of Fisherman’s Wharf around them, but within the confines of a fine restaurant.
Alioto’s No. 8, 8 Fisherman’s Wharf, 415-673-0183.
Bistro Boudin Sourdough bread is as unique to San Francisco as its scenic landscape, so it is only fitting that the flagship store showcase other iconic landmarks. In 1849, the Boudin family used wild yeasts in the San Francisco air, which imparted a unique tang to their traditional French bread. The restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf offers “only in San Francisco” views of the wharf, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and other sights.
Bistro Boudin, 160 Jefferson St., 415-351.5561.
Castagnola Restaurant With scenic views of San Francisco Bay, Fisherman’s Wharf, fishing boats, Coit Tower and the downtown skyline, Castagnola is credited with creating the first crab cocktail for the 1915 World’s Fair, and is renowned for its seafood and steak.
Castagnola Restaurant, 286 Jefferson St., Fisherman’s Wharf, 415-776-5015.
Eagle Cafe A favorite restaurant and bar with locals since 1928, this historic waterfront hangout was a popular seamen’s pub when PIER 39 was a freight pier. It has since been renovated and has views of San Francisco Bay and fresh seafood.
The Eagle Café, PIER 39, Suite #103, 415-433-3689.
Fog Harbor Fish House Every table at Fog Harbor offers spectacular San Francisco Bay views, which earned OpenTable's Diners' Choice award for Best Scenic View. Fog Harbor is proud to be the first restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf to serve 100% sustainable seafood and offers the quintessential San Francisco waterfront dining experience. The restaurant is owned and operated by PIER 39's founding family, the Simmons Family.
Fog Harbor Fish House, PIER 39 Level 2, #202, 415-421-2442.
Greens Greens Restaurant is located in a converted warehouse at historic Fort Mason and was a pioneer in establishing vegetarian cuisine in the United States. It’s also famous for using locally sourced wines and produce.
Greens, 2 Marina Blvd., Fort Mason Building A, 415-771-7955.
McCormick & Kuleto’s McCormick & Kuleto’s, a traditional seafood restaurant with an extensive menu, offers a view of San Francisco Bay, including Alcatraz, Angel Island, Aquatic Park and the historical Balclutha sailing ship anchored at Hyde Street Pier. The menu also includes sirloin steak and pastas for guests who would rather turf than surf.
McCormick & Kuleto’s, Ghirardelli Square, 900 North Point St., 415-929-1730.
Neptune’s Waterfront Grill and Bar Every table at Neptune’s Palace Seafood Restaurant has views of San Francisco Bay from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island to Oakland and the Bay Bridge. Featuring fresh seafood, including lobster, crab and grilled fish.
Neptune’s Waterfront Grill and Bar, PIER 39 Building K, Level 2, 415-434-2260.
The Pier Market Seafood Restaurant Breathtaking views of the Bay and award-winning clam chowder and mesquite grilled fresh seafood and meats contribute to The Pier Market’s popularity.
The Pier Market Seafood Restaurant, PIER 39 Building F, Level 1, 415-989-7437.
Bay Bridge View
Butterfly Stunning waterfront views and whimsical décor are a perfect complement to the California-Asian cuisine that stays true to the flavors of Southeast Asia.
Butterfly, Pier 33, The Embarcadero, 415-864-8999.
Slanted Door The Slanted Door is a modern Vietnamese restaurant overlooking the San Francisco Bay in the Ferry Building. Executive chef Charles Phan’s family opened the original Slanted Door in 1995 on Valencia Street in the Mission District with a vision to blend Vietnamese cooking technique with local ingredients. Featuring a Riesling-driven wine list, full bar with premium brands and fresh squeezed juices, and hard-to-find Chinese teas, the menu also ecologically farmed meat, game and poultry found at farms around the San Francisco Bay Area.
The Slanted Door, One Ferry Building, #3, 415-861-8032.
The Waterfront Restaurant In 1969, Al Falchi converted a former San Francisco longshoremen’s bar into a restaurant called The Waterfront. A mile from Fisherman’s Wharf, it features a view of the entire bay that has made it a favorite of local politicians and business people.
The Waterfront Restaurant & Cafe, Pier 7, The Embarcadero, 415-391-2696 (reservations).
Restaurants on the Embarcadero, but not on the waterfront
- Americano 8 Mission Street 415-278-3700
- Boulevard One Mission St., the Embarcadero 415-543-6084
- Chaya Brasserie 132 The Embarcadero 415-777-8688
- One Market Restaurant 1 Market Street 415-777-5577
- Palomino 345 Spear Street, Suite 100 415-512-7400
Pacific Ocean View
The Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant The Beach Chalet faces Ocean Beach – where the Golden Gate Park meets the Pacific Ocean. It features dramatic and historic WPA frescoes created by Lucien Labaudt in the 1930’s, and romantic views of the Pacific Ocean’s surf. The Beach Chalet is known for its hops and barley creations – the Seal Rock Bock, a full-bodied, dark and malty German-style beer; or the Ocean Beach Oktoberfest, a German-style amber beer, are just a few examples of the brews served.
The Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant, 1000 Great Highway, 415-386-8439.
The Cliff House Breathtaking views from the cliffs overlooking Seal Rocks, the Pacific Ocean and Marin coastline. The first Cliff House was built in 1863 and catered to three U.S. presidents and prominent San Francisco families. In 1894, a fire destroyed the original building and it has since been rebuilt three times – 1896, 1909 and its final completion in 2004. It is now a part of the National Park Service and Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The Cliff House, 1090 Point Lobos, 415-386-3330.
Hornblower Cruises & Events Elegant yachts are floating restaurants offering everything from dinner dance and weekend champagne brunch cruises, to private custom yacht charters on the San Francisco Bay.
Hornblower Cruise & Events, Pier 3 on the Embarcadero, 415-438-8300.
Marin (15 minutes north of San Francisco)
Guaymas Diners enjoy authentic regional Mexican cuisine just a short ferry ride from the City with views of the Bay in Tiburon and Angel Island on the outdoor patio. Known for its margaritas and fresh salsas.
Guaymas, 5 Main St., Tiburon, 415-435-6303.
Scoma’s of Sausalito In the heart of Sausalito and featuring romantic views of the City and the Bay, this historic landmark on the waterfront serves up fresh seafood and pasta.
Scoma’s of Sausalito, 588 Bridgeway, Sausalito, 415-332-9551.