Select Restaurants in the Embarcadero Neighborhood of San Francisco

Price Key

$ Cheap
Under $10
$$ Moderate
$11 - $30
$$$ Spendy
$31 - $60
$$$$ Splurge
$60 +

Tadich Grill

240 California
(at Front)

This 160-year-old institution still serves up impeccably fresh, simply prepared fish in a handsome old brass-and-mahogany setting. Skip the fancy-sounding specials and opt for such sublimely simple fare as the hearty Coney Island chowder, a fresh and tangy Dungeness crab Louis, mesquite-grilled rex or petrale sole, or sand dabs pan-fried in butter. Theoyster-and-bacon Hangtown fry makes an excellent late breakfast. Thedesserts are largely undistinguished, but the all-California wine list is serviceable and affordable.

The Plant Cafe

Pier 3(at The


Plant belongs to the post-hippie category of natural food restaurants that have a full bar with 12 kinds of scotch and the occasional glimpse of duck confit as well as quinoa and tempeh in great variety. It’s as dark, highceilinged, and classy as many a standard inorganic restaurant, with blondwood accents, lovely bay views, what can only be described as threedimensional plant art, and even a totally nouveau wood-burning pizza oven. And the menu features food that’s not only healthy and natural, it tastes good: big beautiful salads, perfectly grilled seafood, and the house-specialty Plant Burger, a delectable mashup of beets, cashews, lentils, and mushrooms. (Smaller outposts at California & Pine and at Steiner & Chestnut offer juices, smoothies, salads, and pastries.)

Il Cane Rosso

One Ferry
Building (at

$, $$

Though it's little more than an oversized kiosk with a rotisserie and cooking line, this collaboration by chefs Daniel Patterson and Lauren Kiino serves up deceptively simple dishes with big, rich flavors. The cooking celebrates Northern California's signature style, in satisfying dishes that are rustic, market-focused, and suffused with Mediterranean references. The all-day lunch menu includes sandwiches of rotisserie-cooked meats, salads, soups, and antipasti, made with ingredients sourced from the region's most meticulous growers and ranchers. Some evenings, the three-course familystyle dinner offers a coherent thesis expressed with recurring flavors (the menu changes nightly). The only problem? The setting, in a well-trafficked Ferry Building hallway, can make you feel like you're eating in the middle of a bustling, drafty train station.



$, $$

The ambitions of this small, stylish spot are much more modest than at owner Gerald Hirigoyen's Piperade, but the food is as big in flavor. The lunch menu is mostly bocadillos, small but hearty sandwiches you order two at a time from a list of a dozen; at night, the menu is mostly delicious tapas and generously portioned small plates. Inventive, exciting wine and spirits list.


1 Mission (at


It's nearly impossible to go wrong at tony, wildly popular Boulevard, from the sumptuous interior by Pat Kuleto to Nancy Oakes' flawlessly executed New American menu. The offerings are seasonal, and desserts are exceptional. Extensive wine list, full bar.


290 Pacific
(at Battery)

$$, $$$

The lusty, full-flavored, Italian-influenced California cuisine served at the casual (wood floors, brick walls, open kitchen) Globe is welcome at any time of day, but especially after midnight. This is one of the few first-rate San Francisco eateries that serve a full menu until 1 a.m. (midnight on Sundays). You can command excellent pizzas and starters, and continue on to inventive housemade pastas, grilled steak and chops, and seafood. Busy bar, too.

Hog Island
Oyster Co.

1 Ferry
Building, No.

$$, $$$, $$$$

A short but perfect menu is on offer at this small, modern oyster bar in the Ferry Building. There is a U-shaped counter and half a dozen tables inside, plus two picnic tables on the promenade outside, all overlooking the bay -- and often a line of people waiting for them, with good reason.


200 Jackson
(at Front)
$$$, $$$$

Kokkari offers pricey but well-conceived Greek food (classic dishes mildly tweaked to remain consonant with seasonal California cuisine) in a comfortable, rather formal (but noisy) setting right off the Embarcadero. Request seating away from the front bar room if you're interested in conversation. The starters (mezethes) are unusually good.

Mexico DF

139 Steuart
(at Mission)

$, $$$

A lively, modern setting (located on one of San Francisco's Restaurant Rows) for the best and freshest Mexican food downtown. We especially love the superb carnitas, the goat tacos, and, if it's in season, fresh corn sauteed with green beans and purslane. Extensive tequila list, excellent margaritas and mojitos muddled with fresh fruit. Useful, fast taqueria-to-go at lunch.


300 Spear (at


 Sometimes billed as Boulevard's more casual, edgier spinoff, Prospect is more like a Marc by Marc Jacobs dress, casual only to the moneyed classes. The dining room is so vast you could ride a pony up and down its aisles, and framed in Stonehenge-sized pillars, yet acres of browns and bronzes give the room a surprisingly warmth. Chef Ravi Kapur's food is urbane, subtle, playful in the mannered tones of an 18th-century French
noble. The dishes looks like a bonsai landscape, fronds and seedlings sprouting out of its crevices, and the chef buffs away strong contrasts and sharp flavors. A black cod filet is delicately perfumed with Thai red curry and showered in snap-pea shavings; a quivering pork belly is set on a bed of orange-scented whole grains with a fennel slaw. The most daring aspect of Prospect may be Brooke Arthur's cocktail menu, a collection of tricks and curiosities.

The Slanted

1 Ferry
Building, No.

$$$, $$$$

In its third incarnation, anchoring the foodie paradise and transportation hub that is the Ferry Building, the justly famed Slanted Door is chicer and busier than ever. But its superbly conceived, seasonal, spicy and herbal Vietnamese fare, made with top-notch ingredients, is worth the trouble it takes to get a reservation. Favorite dishes include the barbecued pork ribs, crab cellophane noodles, and inventive desserts, though the whole menu is reliably good. Wonderful cocktails are a draw at the spacious bar-lounge.
Yank Sing

Center, 101
Spear (at

$, $$, $$$
One of San Francisco's best dim sum houses offers dozens of little dishes, which include (in addition to the traditional dumplings) salads, Peking duck, and stir-fries, all brought to your table on rolling carts. The Rincon Center location is bigger than the Stevenson Street one, and provides seating in the sunny atrium on weekends. Both outposts do a thriving takeout trade, too, in adjacent spaces called Yank Sing 2 Go.

Henry's Hunan

(at Kearny)

$, $$

This deservedly popular family-run Chinese restaurant features reasonablypriced, spicy dishes made with fresh ingredients in rather bare-bones settings (Formica tables, thick white restaurant ware, stainless steel teapots). Rice plates and noodle dishes are available at lunch only.

Cafe Bastille

22 Belden (at

$, $$

The menu of this Belden Place cafe is full of classic French dishes, which when you're eating outside, close to a heat lamp, sipping on Beaujolais, feels just right. There's frisée aux lardons, moules, and boudin noir, for starters, all of which are prepared with care. Service can be a little slow, but it suits the mood.


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