Where To Eat Around The Ferry Building & EmbarcaderoThe Ferry Building is an Embarcadero icon. Here’s where to eat nearby.
The Ferry Building is a San Francisco landmark and one of the many great ones in the city. Amazingly, this historic spot on the Embarcadero has achieved the rare balance between feeling touristy and also being a pretty cool place for locals (hello, farmers market, and fancy food hall). If you’re enjoying a sunny stroll along the waterfront and looking for some great restaurants and bars to pop in for a light bite or a full-on meal, check out one of these spots.
A guide to great spots near the historic building isn't complete without mentioning all the great food stalls, restaurants, and cafes you’ll encounter walking through its high-ceilinged hall. A few of our favorite things to get are the flavorful Jamaican patties from Peaches Patties, the burritos stuffed with french fries over at Señor Sisig, the juicy burgers and soft serve at Gott’s Roadside, and oysters and hearty clam chowder at Hog Island Oyster Co. You'll also want to stop by Red Bay Coffee for charcoal lattes to go.
La Mar is a waterfront party. This place looks like a classy teal and blue-colored hotel lobby set somewhere on Miami Beach, with two bar areas and a huge dining room. But the covered waterfront deck overlooking some piers is exactly where we want to drink never-ending pisco sours and fill up on tangy ceviche, crispy empanadas, grilled scallops over lentil tacu-tacu, and slow-cooked pork shank cooked with aji panca. This small plates spot is always packed with tourists, locals popping in for Happy Hour at the sleek front bar, and people in town for some sort of convention, which certainly makes a night here buzzy.
There are plenty of things to do in this city, like walk down Ocean Beach, chill in Golden Gate Park, or take a trip north for some sauvignon blanc in Wine Country. If you’re seeking a different kind of day, consider spending a lazy afternoon soaking up some sun at Red’s Java House. This pre-Giants game hangout (or anytime hangout, for that matter) is all about the sunny vibes—it has a back patio right by the Bay Bridge and is the perfect place to enjoy something cold over a burger on a sourdough roll.
Here to add some zing to casual waterfront brunch-lunch is Xica. The gluten-free Mexican spot smack dab in Levi’s Plaza is feel-good energy personified. It’s got bold murals, plants, upbeat music filling the colossal space, and a sunny patio next to a trickling fountain. Prepare for shrimp tacos on dragon fruit-infused tortillas, fried egg-topped chilaquiles, and extra bready chicken and waffles. Xica, unlike the news cycle and your inbox, is a happy place. So do the smart thing and come here if you need a fuel-up after an Embarcadero stroll, or just stepped off a cruise ship at Pier 27.
This place on the Embarcadero has huge bay views and giant floor-to-ceiling fish tanks that might make you feel a bit like you’re dining in an aquarium. Which is why we go here with coworkers, important clients, or anytime we want to feel like a high-powered person over some very good fish. The menu changes nightly based on what’s in season, but you can always count on phenomenal oysters, ceviches, and roasted fish like cod filets and swordfish steaks. They also do lunch, and are open Mondays.
This upscale Embarcadero spot (and Saison's more "casual" spin-off) feels perfectly suited for trading stock tips with a friend or sitting next to tables full of puffer vest-ed folks who agree that Dreamforce is the highlight of fall. The dining room is a cross between a hunting lodge and a fancy seafood house thanks to a taxidermy bear, decorative wall fish, and a big open kitchen with a wood-burning hearth. You’ll dine on things like meaty antelope tartare topped with herbs, wild swordfish steaks, and other grilled items from the seafood and meat-focused menu. This power dinner might get pricey (mains range from $23-$62), but the views that look straight out to the Bay Bridge make up for it.
One way to get old-school-sophisticated on a random weekday: lunch at Tadich Grill. The Financial District spot has been around since panning for gold was the city’s hottest activity, and still looks like a relic of the past with white jacketed waiters, tablecloths, and a bar so long you can barely see the end. Seafood is the main event. Crab cakes are delicate crispy pillows. Bowls of cioppino (complete with plastic bib) are loaded with an aquarium’s worth of shellfish. And platters of broiled sea bass are dressed simply with bright lemon butter. Washing everything down with a martini is a local rite of passage.
Boulevard looks like a metro station in Paris complete with tiled mosaics, royal blue chairs, and brick archways everywhere. The American restaurant on the Embarcadero is exactly where to go for wine-drenched lunches or times when pretending like you own a wine country vineyard and drink a bottle of chardonnay a day just feels right. Their $119 set menu consists of solid seasonal dishes like seared scallops, a rack of lamb, and sticky toffee pudding—but what this spot lacks in uber-exciting food it makes up for with waterfront views and a very swanky ceiling.
Yank Sing is the city’s most famous dim sum spot—it’s been around since 1958 and is known to draw huge crowds, especially at the larger Spear Street location inside the Rincon Center. And while they’re arguably not the best dim sum spot in the city, Yank Sing is still a classic we love, and coming here at least once is a quintessential dining experience. Once inside, metal push carts with bamboo steamers will zoom past you, and you’ll have your pick of everything from phenomenal kurobuta pork and Napa cabbage dumplings and steamed BBQ pork buns to scallop siu mai. Get one of everything and don’t hold back.
There aren’t a lot of Greek restaurants in San Francisco, but even if there were places on every corner (Souvla is certainly trying), Kokkari would still be one of the best. Everything at this rustic place from the crispy zucchini cake to their braised lamb shank that falls off the bone is delicious, and the roaring fireplace is a great backdrop for birthdays, special occasions, or any time you want to feel like a CEO at a very important power lunch.
At this Cantonese restaurant located above Osha Thai, the menu is big and the dining room with Ferry Building views is even bigger (we wouldn’t be surprised if they could fit a 747 inside). This makes Harborview an ideal spot to gather with lots of friends and family to enjoy weekend dim sum or celebrate a special occasion over barbecue, sauteed and braised vegetables, noodle and rice dishes, and more.
Pier 23 is a family-run bar and restaurant on the Embarcadero with good beer, stiff cocktails, and a menu of things like salads, tacos, and crab cakes. We usually skip the food when we’re here (this isn’t a place where you’ll say, “Hey, try this”), and instead use this spot as a ticket to waterfront drinking. Lots of umbrellas, tables, and plastic chairs fill the cozy but sun-lit outdoor area. Enjoy the views with a drink before moving on to the next spot.
Osha Thai is pretty large and has a patio overlooking the plaza and Ferry Building. They make reliably great food, with everything from pad see ew and duck curry to noodle soups like khao soi, and it’s an ideal spot for groups or a quick fuel up before or after a stroll on the waterfront. You can also stop here for a few really good cocktails, or daily Happy Hour (5-7pm) with $1.50 oysters, $5 beers, and $7-$9 appetizers.