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Best restaurant for window-side viewing of Fleet Week?

We've been having great fun watching the Blue Angels et al soaring over the city this morning, practicing for the weekend festivities.

I would love to find a great restaurant where I could ensonce myself for a few hours of noshing and drinking to take it all in.

I honestly don't even care that much about the food as long as there is a decent bar and/or wine list. Immediately in mind is Kuleto's at the Embarcadero but am not familiar with any of the establishments on Pier 39 -- would any of those have a great vantage point?

Thanks for the suggestion!

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  1. Medjool in the mission has a great roof deck. I saw them there last year, very cool!

    1. Did you have a view of either of the bridges? Two years ago, they flew UNDER the Golden Gate and as this is an anniversary year, it might happen again.

      Checked out their website and am sorry their rooftop isn't open on Fridays -- would have been nice to watch the test runs tomorrow...

      I gotta say the menu looks intriguing though! Maybe a reason to head to the Mission!

      1. I food is not your primary motive, I'd suggest someplace at Fisherman's Wharf, and outside if you want to see both the low manoeuvers over the water and the high-up antics. It's suppose to warm up and may be quite balmy.

        You could dawdle over a sundae at Ghirardelli Square, or try one of the upstairs places at the Cannery or Ghirardelli with balcony seating facing north, if such still exists.

        1. Ideal spot for viewing, but with no food, are the upper floors of any of the fidi towers. At 1 Post, it seemed they were flying an obstacle course between the buildings. When they "strafed" the old Embarcadero farmers' market, I thought that I had an idea how North Vietnamese peasants might have felt.

          1. Snag an invitation to the St. Francis Yacht Club.

            1. Melanie - I thought about it and have good friends in Latitude 38, but thought it might be too cold on someone's yacht. Might have to reconsider that as the weather is clearing up!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Carrie 218

                No, not on a boat, but from the viewiing deck of the Yacht Club, the bar or grill room.

                  1. re: chaddict

                    Stick to the sandwiches and remember to drink a lot of cocktails.

              2. It all depends if you are watching the fleet parade or the Blue Angels. The closer to the water and the closer to the Golden Gate, the better off you'll be. I've watched from downtown rooftops (during the dotcom days), from the Berkeley Pier, from the Bay Bridge (stuck in traffic), and all along the SF waterfront area. Frankly along the Embarcadero south of Pier 39 you will see much of anything.

                In years past, we've done Pier 39--Bubba Gumps Fish Company....my sister and I took our kids and thought it was a great place to watch the show...but you need to be mindful of your timing for the different events. They put time limits on their tables (I want to say it was 60 minutes but it might have been 90 minutes) either way, you couldn't snag a table and hold it all afternoon.

                Traffic is always a nightmare. Give yourself LOTS of time to get there, and LOTS of time to get home, no matter where your are coming from.

                2 Replies
                1. re: michele_corum

                  Good point. I always think about the Blue Angels. The best Fleet week experience I ever had was one Saturday morning there was a big black stealth bomber hovering over Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto (chowhound bound for Chez Panisse?)

                  1. re: michele_corum

                    Sunday will be especially disastrous, traffic-wise, because Columbus Avenue will be closed for a good part of the afternoon for the Columbus Day parade.

                  2. Yeah, all of the Pier 39 restaurants are a horror show, especially that one at the end Neptune's Palace. Most of these places are owned by the same Corp. Even my old standby, Eagle Cafe seems to have tanked recently.

                    One of the better places view-wise would be if you could snag a corner table at Pompei's Grotto, but the food is untried by me and the wine list is a little dismal. But if you wanted hard booze, this is an old rat pack type of place in that regards. Alioto's has a decent wine list, but the view is one-sided. They do have lots of antipasti dishes and I'm in love with their creme brulee.

                    You could bite the bullet and venture into unknown Chowhound territory (or at least unreported) and try The Franciscan which view-wise has a lot going for it.

                    My Fisherman's Wharf notes.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: rworange

                      The Franciscan is now part of the Stinking Rose/Dead Fish group, if that matters to you.

                    2. Thanks, Michele and RW! It IS the Blue Angels I'm looking to watch. We are were planning on trying to do the ship tours first, but I just looked at the schedule and see they are continuing until Monday and Tuesday which is cool for us self-employed.

                      The Franciscan might be the choice!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Carrie 218

                        Cool. Looking forward to a report back. Love some of the off-the-beaten track restaurants you try. Too bad Julius Castle hasn't re-opened yet. I'm hoping for good things from them under new ownership.

                        1. re: rworange

                          I always love your optimism, rworange!

                          The Carnelian Room would be a great vantage point. Do they have cocktails and light snacks in the afternoon?

                      2. Just a thought - would anything on the Marin side of the bay have just a good a view?

                        1. You could try McCormick & Kuleto's in Ghirardelli Square. I live a couple of blocks away and I would say that at least half of the Blue Angel "passes" go directly overhead. (Of course, a million people will think of that option)

                          A lot of people sit on the lawns at both Marina Green and Ft. Mason and you could also go along Chrissy Field. Not too many benches there, but you could certainly sit on the beach, assuming it isn't too cold.

                          They do seem to love tearing around the GGB area - I think that they intentionally do as much flying as possible over water. They can't actually go under the bridge deck, but when you see them, you would bet that they are. It is fun to watch!

                          1. Best place = Marin Headlands, cliff side picnic areas looking towards SF. BYOF.