With the weather heating up, there is no better time for enjoying a leisurely lunch while looking at a stunning oceanside vista. Luckily, there are plenty of restaurants in SF with delicious eats and gorgeous views. Here we round up the best places to grab a waterfront lunch in the city by the bay.
I don’t know about you, but watching the waves crash against the shore has me craving one thing: seafood. Ok, that was a lie, it has me craving two things: seafood and an excellent bottle of white or sparkling wine! There is no better spot for either than Waterbar on the Embarcadero. Parke Ulrich’s sustainable seafood restaurant has an almost always packed patio with beautiful views of the nearby Bay Bridge and Treasure Island. Waterbar’s lunch runs everyday from 11:30 am to 2 pm and the menu is a seafood lover’s dream. There’s wood oven, charred octopus flown in from the Southern coast of Spain with refried beans and hosuemade naan, seared sea scallops from Nantucket with cherry tomatoes and uni butter, and oven-roasted white bass from Newport Beach with fried green tomatoes and bacon braised romano beans. If it sounds decadent, that is because it is — in only best, most luxurious kind of way.
399 The Embarcadero San Francisco, CA 94105
2 Beach Chalet
If you find yourself in Golden Gate Park on a gloriously sunny day, you can’t beat lunch at the Beach Chalet. Located across the street from Ocean Beach and above the Golden Gate Park Visitor’s Center, the Beach Chalet is a restaurant and brewery with lovely views of the Pacific Ocean. There are a lot of delectable eats on the menu, from local Dungeness crab cakes with charred scallion aioli to cioppino with shrimp, mussels, scallops, clams, salmon, calamari, and tomato broth. The atmosphere is unfussy and inviting and even when the place is crowded, you can almost always find a spot at the bar.
1000 Great Highway San Francisco, CA 94121
3 Hog Island Oyster Bar
Hands down the best place for oysters in San Francisco is the Hog Island Oyster Bar at the Ferry Building. This old standby underwent a remodel to become bigger and better a little over a year and a half ago. Now the space is twice as big with plenty of high wooden tables, lots of outdoor seating, and a fancy new cocktail menu. The Ferry Building boasts views of the Bay Bridge and the blue bay beyond and Hog Island is at the epicenter of it all. A dozen Hog Island Sweetwater oysters on the half shell is a must order as are the chowder with clams, bacon, potatoes, and cream, the rustic seafood stew with spicy herb-tomato broth, and the grilled cheese sandwich made with three local artisanal cheeses. It’s seriously one of the most amazing grilled cheese sandwiches you’ll ever taste.
Ferry Building Marketplace 1 Ferry Building San Francisco, CA 94111
4 Cliff House
Whenever I’m hosting out of town guests and newcomers to San Francisco, I always bring them to the historic Cliff House. It sits on the top of a hill, perched on several cliffs really, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Go for a late lunch and you’ll witness the sun setting over the sea. A SF institution that was originally built in 1863, the Cliff House has had many faces, but it has always been an excellent place to savor lunch. The menu features classic cocktails and traditional dishes native to San Francisco. Think Joe’s Scramble with ground beef, onions, mushrooms, and spinach, creamy white clam chowder, and cioppino with Dungeness crab in a spicy, finger-licking good red broth.
1090 Point Lobos Avenue San Francisco, CA 94121
5 Cavallo Point
Although Cavallo Point is not in San Francisco proper, it is still one of my favorite spots to enjoy an alfresco lunch with waterfront views. Cavallo Point is an indulgent hotel and spa in Sausalito just under the Golden Gate Bridge. From the front porch, you can take in all of San Francisco, the glistening bay, Alcatraz, and the burnt red Golden Gate Bridge. The food is to die for and if you have time, I recommend the lunch tasting menu. It consists of four small courses served at the same time. There is a cup of the daily soup, little gem salad, chips and dip, and your choice of the entree, be it fresh trout, carrot tortellini, Dungeness crab sandwich, or the juicy Prather ranch grass-fed beef burger.
601 Murray Circle Sausalito, CA 94965