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Dining Help - Fisherman's Wharf and Golden Gate Park areas

My husband and I are traveling to San Francisco in two weeks and need some help with restaurant recommendations. We fly in Saturday night and planned to check out Fisherman's Wharf. Any really great fine dining spots within an easy walking distance from there? Would love a view if possible. Also, that Sunday, we are planning to trek around Golden Gate Park and would like to get lunch at a good price that afternoon in the same vicinity. Anyone have a place there they would recommend?

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  1. Fisherman's Wharf is not exactly a dining mecca. It is fine, but there is better and less expensive food elsewhere. Do a search on "Ferry Building" and "North Beach" for ideas.

    Here's some ideas for the Wharf ...

    Fisherman's Wharf Survival Guide
    http://www.chow.com/digest/577

    That's Right, Fisherman's Wharf
    http://www.chow.com/digest/2079

    Hope you will report back about where you ate. It keeps info fresh and will be a help to other visitors. San Franciscans don't really eat at the wharf all that often.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I wouldn't call the Ferry Building exactly a dining mecca, either, with but one respectable sit-down restaurant and even it not universally acclaimed.

      1. re: Gary Soup

        There's a lot of great stuff to eat at the Ferry Building. Every day there's:

        Acme
        Boulette's Larder
        Ciao Bella
        Cowgirl Creamery
        Delica
        Frog Hollow
        Hog Island
        Imperial Tea Court
        Lulu Petite
        Mastrelli's
        Mistral
        Recchiuti
        Tsar Nicoulai

        Plus on Saturdays during market hours:

        Aidells
        Andante Dairy
        Blue Bottle
        Cap'n Mike's
        Della Fattoria
        Donna's Tamales
        Downtown Bakery
        Fatted Calf
        Galaxy Granola
        Hayes Street Grill
        La Cocina
        June Taylor
        Juniper Ridge
        Noe Valley Bakery
        Primavera
        Roli Roti
        Rose Pistola

    2. not sure about fisherman's wharf. it tends to be very touristy and also hard to find great food. though Gary Denko is out there and great.

      Near Golden gate park at ninth and irving
      Ebisu for sushi
      marnee thai-thai food
      pluto's for salads, and
      nanking road bistro for chinese

      10 Replies
      1. re: Doodleboomer

        Would visiting Union Square our first evening to sitesee and have dinner be a better option? I was really hoping to find a stellar restaurant for our first evening there, so I would certainly consider altering my itinerary in favor of checking out Fisherman's Wharf another afternoon would it make sense.

        1. re: kitty39393

          I will chime in one more time to say that Fisherman's Wharf is an awful, awful place. Nobody who dislikes tourist traps, tacky souveniers and bad food goes anywhere near it.

          1. re: uptown jimmy

            Fisherman's Wharf is not an awful, awful place. We like to go there once a year or so to pretend to be tourists. A mini-vacation. Granted, it's not a good place to eat. Saving it for an afternoon, and eating elsewhere the first night, would be a good idea.

            1. re: Glencora

              Kitty, while searching is difficult on this site currently, it helps to read the links provided in this thread. This is another link that might be helpful to you.

              ### Perfect Days in San Francisco
              http://www.chowhound.com/topics/393349

              If you are at Golden Gate Park a not horrible distance away is Aziza. There are tons of posts on this board about that restaurant.
              http://www.aziza-sf.com/

              I would save dining on Fisherman's Wharf for lunch and go to Scoma's which is listed in the first link provided ... which explains why lunch is the better option than dinnere at Scoma's. Another good option for the evening would be the upstairs cafe at Boudin. Also in the first link.

              If you are going to Union Square then I would go to Michael Minna for spectacular.

              And here's a hot tip for you. Someone I respect food-wise A LOT today recommended Farallon in Union Square for the raw fish bar. I like the fanciful decor at Farralon but I wasn't wowed by the food a few years back. However, given this guy's food creds I plan on checking it out ASAP.
              http://www.farallonrestaurant.com/

              The dessert chef at Farallon has an excellent reputation ... one of the current desserts ... MEYER LEMON CREAM PIE roasted strawberries, candied coconut, vanilla chantilly

              Don't sweat it. Even most mediocre food in SF is great. Have a nice vacation and again ... let us know how it went food-wise.

              1. re: rworange

                I second scoma's for lunch and Gary Danko for dinner. Fisherman's Wharf is not awful and can be quite fun. Is it touristy? Of course but there is nothing wrong with being a tourist once in a while. I think it would be a shame to come to this beautiful city and not at least walk around there.

                1. re: rworange

                  rworange... thanks for all your help. I put a lot of research into where I dine and San Fran is becoming overwhelmingly difficult to decide. Will definitely let you know where I end up.

            2. re: kitty39393

              San Francisco isn't big enough to worry too much about whether the restaurant is near one area or another. Why don't you tell us what you mean when you say "stellar" (price range, atmosphere, style of food, etc.) and we can be more specific.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                Stellar for me means, best digs, dining, and menu for the price. I love creative, up and coming chefs. And, I like just about everything food-wise. Some favorites I frequent often in my town are bistros, italian, and asian inspired restaurants. I definitely am not interested in the most expensive dinner in town, but I am willing to spend a little more for a memorable meal. I would expect to spend probably $80-100 for 2 entrees and an appetizer and dessert to share.

                1. re: kitty39393

                  That helps a lot -- for example, it sounds like you aren't interested in any of the really high-end multi-course tasting menu kinds of places (someone had mentioned Gary Danko, for example). I forgot to ask where you're from, but unless you're from a city with a good Vietnamese food scene, I'm going to do what I hardly ever do and recommend Slanted Door -- upscale Vietnamese at the Ferry Building, great view, upscale urban atmosphere. A moderate walk or a short ride on the F streetcar from the Wharf. Plus, as other people have mentioned, the Ferry Building is a fantasy land for foodies. You'll want to have reservations for a Saturday night. Alternatively, you might be able to manage at Boulevard in that price range for what you plan to order. Definitely stellar, and across the street from the Ferry Building. Reservations required there as well.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    Yeah, I agree with Ruth. That helped a whole lot. Ignore my other links. Often visitors just want to hit the Zagat-like places.

                    In the afternoon, for your Golden Gate Park trek, Aziza is not open. However, really consider if you might have dinner there while in the area. It is sheer wonderfulness.

                    So NOT a Chowhound rec, but have some cookies and tea in the Japanese Tea Garden. I like this a lot though it isn't stellar quality. Nearby Iriving and Clement Street are your best bets. Search on those. Park Chow often gets mentioned and I like it. Clement is a cool street ... the 'real' Chinatown. I haven't explored it enough to give a real rec.

                    There is the Cliff House sort of around Golden Gate Park which sort of sucks food-wise. Not that it is horrible, but it is pricy and medicore. However, the cocktail lounge is fine place to drink in the view on a sunny day. So get a cocktail or a glass of wine and spend a littte time in the upstairs cocktail lounge for ambiance. The only outstanding thing they do food-wise is popovers. So if you can sweet-talk them into a basket of those WIITHOUT food, you are ahead of the game. Service sort of sucks too.

                    When you arrive on Sunday ... I haven't tried it yet and no one has reported ... but MarketBar has a special Mexican three-course prix fixe. As soon as I am able, I will get over there for this. If I go before you arrive I'll post and link .A little snack at Alioto's with the creme brulee in the bar offers a nice view.

                    Slanted Door at the Ferry Building has a nice view and good upscale Vietnames food. Nice desserts and wine list. It isn't what it was in the past, but still good. The room itself is a little stark and it can get loud. Consider oysters at Hog Island in the Ferry Building. Other names to consider and seach on Boulevard, Piperade, Coco500 (one of my favs), Perbacco. Maybe the best seafood in terms of old-time SF ambiance is Tadich ... cioppino and sand dabs are the attraction. IMO, Scoma has better fish, but the sides aren't great. Lunch is the only worthwhile option.

          2. Union Square is okay for sightseeing, if your idea of seeing the sights is visiting department stores. The boats, water, sea lions, and cable car stop are worth seeing at the Wharf. There is one fine dining restaurant worth going to in the area. It is Gary Danko. Servings are generous and prices are high, but it is quite reasonable for that type of dining. That said, I think you'd be better off in the Wharf area during the day, assuming that the weather is nice.

            For an evening stroll, North Beach might be more fun. Perhaps do dinner at Coi?
            http://www.coirestaurant.com/

            1. Okay, I'll throw out a couple more ideas! Agree with the idea of Scoma's for lunch as dinner is way overpriced. Not sure what you consider an easy walk - SF is very walkable, but there is the occasional hill! If you opt for Union Square walking around, you can walk or take a trolley down to the foot of Market St. and go either to Boulevard or Tadich Grill or Perbacco or Slated Door. Union Sq. has all of the large dept. stores and many smaller stores, don't know if that appeals at all. For your GG Park stroll, you can consider the Richmond District side of the Park for lunch - the only places I can think of offhand are Katia's (Russian) and The Richmond - I don't know if The Richmond is open for lunch, I fear not. But if you are out in the area of GG Park and the Richmond Dist., strongly consider Aziza - it is Moroccan with a Calif. twist - the food is great and the atmosphere is very nice. I'd check the websites for all of these places and see what appeals to you. If you don't mind walking up a hill, you can walk from the Wharf up Russian Hill to Luella. All of these places have websites which can give you a better sense of prices, menus, etc. Enjoy your visit!

              2 Replies
              1. re: dinnerout

                After a lot of long deliberation and checking menus and times available, I have settled on Perbacco for Saturday night which is 0.5 mile from my hotel and italian (my husband is a big fan of pasta). We will probably still visit the Wharf that afternoon but head close to the hotel for dinner which after the long flight will probably work out just fine. It sounds like Park Chow is worth a look since we will be nearby the Park the next afternoon. Thank you all for your wonderful recommendations. I will be in San Fran for 3 days and Sonoma for 4. I will let you know what I discover and enjoy, etc. following my return!

                1. re: kitty39393

                  I had my birthday dinner at Perbacco -- I think you'll enjoy it!

              2. Burma Superstar's a few blocks from Golden Gate Park.

                http://www.burmasuperstar.com