From sweeping views to delicious food, these are the best waterfront restaurants in San Francisco.
San Francisco looks out over the water on three sides, and these waterfront restaurants make the most of this geographical bounty.
Most of the best waterfront dining is on the sunnier east side of the city, so you can enjoy an al fresco dining experience.
If this city has a cuisine, it would be seafood. Try a lunch of clam chowder in sourdough bowls, or a dinner of Dungeness crab, hearty Cioppino, and fresh oysters from the clean cold waters of Tomales Bay.
Is seafood not your thing? Don’t worry; historic Fort Mason houses a superb vegetarian restaurant, a traditional steakhouse, an upscale Spanish spot, and plenty of trendy brunch places– all with spectacular views over the water.
All of these and more comprise the best waterfront restaurants in San Francisco!
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Pier Market Seafood Restaurant
The coastal fog often makes San Francisco’s historic Pier 39 chilly, so warm up with a hearty bowl of Cioppino at Pier Market Seafood Restaurant after visiting the sea lions.
This market-style restaurant is a city staple, operating in Fisherman’s Wharf since 1983. It’s one of the best Wharf restaurants in San Francisco, serving favorites like sourdough bowls and Cioppino.
If you’re unfamiliar with this dish, cioppino is a tomato-based seafood stew invented by North Beach fishermen, using whatever was unsold from the day’s catch. It’s become synonymous with the city and a must-try if you’re in the neighborhood.
Looking for fun things to do in Fisherman’s Wharf after your meal? We wrote a whole article on that!
Hog Island Oyster Co.
Hog Island Oyster Co. is a Tomales Bay oyster farm, famed for its fresh oysters.
Fortunately, you don’t need to take a trip to Marin to enjoy these slippery beauties, as you can buy them inside the Ferry Building.
Perch at the bar while chefs shuck oysters. Gaze through floor-to-ceiling windows at amazing views of the ferries and the Bay Bridge.
Or take a seat outside the Ferry Building and enjoy the fresh air, which pairs perfectly with seafood.
The delicious oysters are the star of the show, which you can enjoy natural or fried, but the clam chowder with manila clams is good too. Add a salad to round out your meal, and craft cocktails if you’re in the mood.
Fog Harbor Fish House
Fog Harbor Fish House is one of the best Pier 39 restaurants, and it is one of the only restaurants in Fisherman’s Wharf serving 100% sustainable fresh seafood.
Try not to fill up on the free sourdough bread (harder than it sounds, it’s delicious) as you wait for your crab cakes, scallops, or clam chowder.
As you would expect from a restaurant with Fish House in the name, seafood features prominently on the menu.
Because of its location, the views are pretty spectacular, with the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Marin Headlands visible on a clear day.
Red’s Java House
Address: Pier 30, The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105
Don’t miss: Hot dogs
No online menu
For a change from the upscale, seafood-based restaurants lining San Francisco’s waterfront, head to Red’s Java House.
This old-school hot dog and burger joint serves up comfort food to joggers, skaters, and passersby on the Embarcadero.
It’s not much to look at from the outside, but when you’re eating lunch on the back patio with a delicious hot dog and a cold beer, admiring the Bay Bridge, you’ll understand why this simple establishment has outlasted many fancier waterfront restaurants.
On a sunny day, head straight to Pier 23 for a casual seafood lunch on the waterside back patio. Enjoy good food, good drinks, and, on most afternoons, live music.
Pier 23 has several outdoor dining areas with views of the city and the bay.
With an extensive cocktail menu and a good beer selection, this is the perfect spot for day drinking with friends and one of the best pier restaurants in San Francisco.
For food, don’t skip the delicious fish tacos or the shrimp melt served on griddled sourdough.
Mission Rock Resort
Head to Mission Rock Resort for weekend brunch and enjoy a side order of beautiful waterfront views with your breakfast.
This trendy warehouse setting has a large indoor space that flows out to a covered deck.
Two stories and a small jetty attached to the restaurant allow guests to dine directly over the water, and there is plenty of outdoor dining available. Dishes with local ingredients like petrale sole are a good bet if you’re looking for a main dish.
Metered parking is available on the surrounding streets, but if there is an event at the Chase Center opposite, you will need to take public transit or a taxi.
For the freshest seafood, head to Scoma’s, where local fishermen bring their early morning catch directly to the restaurant every day.
Scoma’s has become a San Francisco institution, popular with locals and tourists alike, and one of the best-guarded treasures of the city.
Scoma’s is famous for its Crab Louie salad, Dungeness crab, and Cioppino, so these are all great food choices. However, your server should be able to recommend whatever is freshly caught and in season.
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Kick back on the covered deck at this waterfront restaurant and enjoy the panoramic view over the bay.
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana serves ceviche, Peruvian-style sushi, and fresh Peruvian seafood, plus some meat and vegetarian options for those not inclined to seafood.
The prime location on The Embarcadero is perfect for watching the world go by, while enjoying tangy Peruvian cuisine and sipping on a cocktail or two.
Stop by La Mar for Happy Hour during the week from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for discounted drinks and an empanada.
Epic Steak is an old-school steakhouse offering an industrial-yet-cozy indoor dining experience, plus an expansive heated outdoor patio.
Perfect for date night, a private event, or a celebration dinner, Epic Steak offers a traditional menu of steaks, seafood, and salad.
This is a good waterfront alternative if you’re not into seafood restaurants. Epic Steak is open daily for dinner and for brunch Friday-Sunday.
For absolutely incredible views of the Golden Gate Bridge, head to the historic Fort Mason for a meal at vegetarian Greens Restaurant.
Greens is one of the restaurants with the best ambiance in San Francisco. Indoors, the decor is inspired by nature, with several beautiful sculptures carved from wood adorning the dining room.
Outside the Greens building is a large heated patio with a lovely view of the Marin headlands.
Enjoy a good meal and a memorable view over the bay without feeling the chill of the SF fog in Coqueta’s heated tent.
Coqueta offers a rustic but beautiful setting for small plates for a tapas dining experience, plus Spanish cuisine classics like paella.
Pair your tapas selections with Spanish or Bay Area-inspired cocktails or a cerveza or two.
Harborview Restaurant and Bar
Harborview Restaurant and Bar serves classic Cantonese food in the Embarcadero Center. Like many Embarcadero restaurants, it has a stunning view of the bay from its sunny patio.
Go for a satisfying weekend brunch or dim sum lunch, or come for dinner with friends.
Harborview Restaurant can accommodate large parties at its round tables, so this is an ideal venue for a multi-generational family gathering or a celebratory dinner.
There are plenty of indoor and outdoor dining areas throughout the space.
For amazing views of the city skyline, cross the bridge to Treasure Island and grab a table at Mersea.
This casual spot serves comfort food like burgers, pizza, and crispy tacos from a converted shipping container, which feels appropriate to the island’s naval history.
Although Mersea feels miles away from the city, it’s less than a ten-minute ferry ride from the Embarcadero.
After a bite to eat, stay for cocktails at the Golden Hour Bar, and watch the city light up after dark.
Bring your date to Waterbar after sunset and admire the Bay Lights, a light installation adorning the Bay Bridge.
You’ll be at one of the best San Francisco restaurants with a view of this spectacular light show.
Waterbar is primarily a seafood restaurant, although it does have other dishes too. The menu changes seasonally, but there are always phenomenal oysters at the raw bar and a great selection of drinks from the full bar.
Atwater Tavern, adjacent to Oracle Park and the Chase Center, is the perfect spot for pre-game drinks and post-concert parties.
Catch some rays on the outdoor patio, or catch up with friends on the rooftop deck.
Hot buffalo wings are ideal if you’re looking for a bar snack, but there are more substantial offerings on the menu too.
The paella is a good option if you’re not in a hurry, as there is a 20-minute wait.
The Ramp Restaurant
The Ramp Restaurant is a cute and colorful eatery in one of the city’s trendiest neighborhoods, the Dogpatch.
If you’re looking for waterfront restaurants with a lively, fun ambiance, The Ramp is it.
Head over for weekend brunch, where you can order delicious huevos rancheros or chilaquiles while soaking up the sunshine by the SF waterfront.
Evenings here are fun, with live music on Salsa Saturdays and a DJ on Friday nights.
In any other city, the beach would be prime real estate. But here, the fog and freezing winds keep most visitors firmly on the bay side of the peninsula.
Those who venture out to the wild and windswept coastal side, however, score sweeping views of the ocean, a beautiful setting, and–best of all–free parking.
Beach Chalet is a historic two-story building overlooking the ocean and one of the best beach restaurants in San Francisco.
In the foyer is a small museum dedicated to Golden Gate Park, downstairs is a brewpub, and upstairs is the Beach Chalet, serving modern American cuisine in one of the best best waterfront restaurants in the Bay Area.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah McDonald is a travel writer based in the Bay Area. She writes for the national parenting website Red Tricycle and on her own family travel blog, Tiny Trailblazers. She loves exploring California’s outdoors and has a weakness for a national park gift shop.
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