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The Best Waterfront Restaurants in San Francisco

Spectacular Views and Finely Prepared Meals Pair Each Other Perfectly

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Dining on the bay is one of those quintessential San Francisco experiences that should not be skipped by visitors to the city. Views of Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge or the Bay Bridge take center stage while the lights of the East Bay and Marin County sparkling off the water add magic to the occasion. Here is our list of the best Waterfront Restaurants in San Francisco; they not only provide excellent views, but top-notch food as well.

1. Alioto's Restaurant

Photo by Ocean Malandra
Your best bet on bustling Fisherman's Wharf for real fresh Pacific seafood and authentic Italian dishes, Alioto's is a landmark dining establishment with roots back to the 1920's. The third story fine-dining room provides sweeping views of the the fishing fleet while the street level Waterside cafe specializes in more casual fare.

#8 Fisherman's Wharf at Taylor, (415) 673-0183 www.aliotos.com
Read My Exclusive Review of Alioto's Restaurant

2. Forbes Island

Image Courtesy of David Paul Ohmer through Creative Commons
Forbes Island takes waterfront dining to an extreme, not only is it located on its own private island just off of Pier 39 and smack-dab in the middle of the sea lion harbor, but it features several underwater dining rooms as well. Outside dining is available on the white sand patio and the nation's only private lighthouse offers panoramic views of the city and the bay from 40 feet up. The menu focuses on classic fine dining items like steak and pasta, but there is always a seafood special of the day.
Sea Lion Harbor "H" Dock, Fisherman's Wharf(415) 951-4900, www.hilltop1892.com/forbes

3. The Slanted Door

Occupying the Southeast corner of the historic Ferry Building Marketplace, home to San Francisco's largest Farmer's Market, this upscale Vietnamese Restaurant originally started in the Mission District and became such a local hit that it had to move downtown. There are now several locations in the city, including Pacific Heights and inside the Westfield Shopping Center on Market Street near Union Square. Floor to ceiling windows insure breathtaking views of the Bay Bridge and Treasure island from most tables.
Read our exclusive review of the Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building #3, Embarcadero (415) 861-8032 www.slanteddoor.com

4. The Cliff House

Image Courtesy of Jesse Gardner through Creative Commons
The stunning location of the Cliff House, perched high above the crashing surf of the the Pacific Ocean on rugged cliffs, gives the restaurant the best vantage point in the city for sunset dining. The original stone French Chateau that once stood there was destroyed by fire in 1907 but the many photos that have survived show one of the most striking combinations of masterful architecture and raw nature ever. The 1909 Neo-Classical building that has replaced it is a bit less fantastical but was recently renovated to house a smart and stylish restaurant that specializes in seafood and a more casual bistro that focuses on lighter and more "Wharf" style items like Louie salads and crab cakes.
1090 Point Lobos, Outer Richmond District 415-386-3330 www.cliffhouse.com

5. Scoma's

Image Courtesy of Scoma's
This landmark Fisherman's Wharf institution is a perennial favorite for both locals and tourists and serves some of the best seafood and Italian fare on the waterfront. Still owned by the same two brothers that started it all in 1965, the comfy and casual restaurant sits right on pier 47 and looks out onto the fishing fleet, giving it a very rustic and authentic feel despite its immense popularity. Scoma's has another location in Sausalito in Marin County, which is accessible by the nearby Ferry.
Pier 47 on Al Scoma Way, Fisherman's Wharf, 1-800-644-5852 www.scomas.com

6. Green's Restaurant

Image Courtesy of the Fort Mason Center
Housed in an airy warehouse in the historic Fort Mason Center, Greens is San Francisco's premier vegetarian restaurant. On top of dishes hand-crafted from local organic ingredients, the waterfront restaurant offers sweeping open views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the bay and the Marin Headlands from the dining room. The separate "Greens to Go" counter allows visitors to take many of the restaurant's specialties with them and picnic on the Marina District's waterfront or in Fort Mason's own Great Meadow.
Fort Mason, Building A (415) 771-6222 www.greensrestaurant.com

7. The Franciscan Restaurant

With 20-foot high floor-to-ceiling windows, the Franciscan offers panoramic views of Alcatraz and the bay from just about every seat of the house. The historic art deco restaurant enjoys a tranquil waterfront location even though it is right in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf. Crab and other seafood specialties dominate the offerings and the daily prixe-fix menu, which includes three courses, is one of the best deals on the waterfront.
Pier 43 1/2, Fisherman's Wharf (415)362-7733 www.franciscanrestaurant.com

8. Epic Roasthouse

While most San Francisco waterfront restaurants specialize in seafood, this highly-rated South of Market neighborhood establishment bucks the trend. Dry-aged steaks and a variety of other meat dishes are the specialty of the Epic Roasthouse, but there is also usually a featured seafood item available as well. Although the dining room offers up sweeping views of the bay, sitting on the outside patio with the Bay Bridge arching across the sky is more impressive.
369 The Embarcadero, SOMA District (415) 369-9955 www.epicroasthouse.com

9. The Waterfront Restaurant

About midway between Fisherman's Wharf and the Ferry Building lies the Waterfront Restaurant, a three-story tribute to fresh California seafood. There are uninterrupted views galore from every floor as well as the bay-side patio, which is always packed when the weather in San Francisco is nice. The historic restaurant has been an integral part of the San Francisco dining scene since it opened its doors in a former longshoreman's bar in 1969. A close proximity to North Beach makes it a good choice for visitors who want to dine on the bay but want to skip the crowds of the Wharf.
Pier 7 (At Broadway), The Embarcadero (415) 391-2696 www.waterfront.com

10. Sinbad's Restaurant

With the San Francisco Bay Bridge and Treasure Island as its dramatic backdrop, Sinbad's serves seafood, pastas and salads in a casual setting. The location, right next to the Ferry Building Marketplace and just outside of the Financial District, mean that it is a lunchtime hotspot. Ask for a seat in the glass terrace room for the best views.
141 The Embarcadero, (415) 781-2555 www.sinbadsrestaurant

11. Neptune's Palace

Dominating the end of Pier 39 and offering perhaps the widest and most obstruction-free views of Alcatraz and the bay anywhere on the waterfront, Neptune's Palace is the ultimate tourist seafood restaurant. That doesn't mean that the food isn't up to par however, and the large selection of fish and other dishes are prepared with care and finesse, even if they are overpriced. The more casual -and less expensive- Sea Lion Cafe is only open for lunch but is poised directly over the famous sea lion colony that inhabits the docks next to Pier 39.

Pier 39, 2nd Level(415) 434-2260 www.pier39restaurants.com

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