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Need view of ocean

My mother is turning 80 in February. When asked how she would like to celebrate she requested 'dinner with her family and a view of the ocean'. Where can you find a good view with a good dinner? I've been checking out Half Moon Bay. There is little mention of Crab Landing, has anyone been there? I've also heard Sam's Chowder House has a good view but can't find any info to encourage the food. How about Sutro at the Cliff House? The family means 9 people so we don't need any huge space.

Maybe we could have a drink at the Cliff House then go somewhere else to eat. I'll appreciate any help I can get. Thanks!

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  1. There's a new chef at the Sutro's at the Cliff House who has been getting positive reports. If you get an early reservation you can be there at sunset.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Ruth Lafler

      "A new chef"? It's George Morrone - Aqua, Fifth Floor, etc. etc.

      A friend of mine is a server there, says the food has changed dramatically.

      1. re: realspear

        I had checked Sutro's on Open Table and nothing was available. Following your suggestion I went back and checked again thinking I should call them. I also checked their menu. I didn't think money was that much of an issue with my original post but just learned my brother's wife was laid off making Sutro's too expensive.

        How about entrees in the lower $20s, salads and appetizers $7-10 . . . and of course that view!

        1. re: kateats

          Given those parameters, if it has to be ocean and not bay (and really, I can't think of much for bay either) I'd consider Sam's Chowder House. It does have the real view, and while the food isn't wonderful, it isn't bad...(better than Beach Chalet, in my view, and more celebratory than Louis', which probably wouldn't work for a group of nine anyway).

          Sam's Chowder House
          4210 Cabrillo Hwy, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

    2. Oddly enough, despite miles of ocean coast, there are not many restaurants with a view of the ocean. Nothing really comes close to the Cliff House for that view. The Beach Chalet has a bit of a view if you get the right table, but it's across the street and I'm not sure you can see all that much ocean. Louis' Restaurant just up the street from the Cliff House has great views, the food is average greasy spoon diner fare.

      If you'd consider a bay view in the equation, you'd have a lot more options.


      Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant
      1000 Great Hwy., San Francisco, CA 94121

      Louis' Restaurant
      902 Point Lobos Ave, San Francisco, CA 94121

      4 Replies
      1. re: Shane Greenwood

        Does anyone really love the food at Beach Chalet though ? Stunning view, I just haven't heard that anyone came away happy with their meal. It's pretty loud and pricey in there. The new menu at the Cliff House would be a better bet for Ocean Beach.

        1. re: sugartoof

          Yes, Cliff House is the better choice and reviews on Beach Chalet are mixed. As the OP noted, CH is booked so that doesn't work.

          1. re: sugartoof

            I use to work for a place that would go to Beach Chalet for special lunches like birthdays and such...the food was as you say. Even simple things like a burger weren't to stuff.

            The sad thing is, the same restaurant group has the lease to a new restaurant on Lake Merritt, where the boat house was...called Lake Chalet.

            1. re: ML8000

              Just shows that location can really be everything. It's just sad when there's really nothing safe on the menu.

        2. Considered Santa Cruz? The Crow's Nest has a lovely outdoor patio right on the harbor. The food is not extraordinary, but it is straight-forward and good. I've always gotten excellent service there.

          1. Mick Ruthven's photos show the ocean and it's a shorter drive and the theme is within her and my memories.

            1. Moss Beach Distillery has a view of the water. Don't remember much about the food. Seemed pretty average-above average.

              Moss Beach Distillery Restaurant
              140 Beach Way, Moss Beach, CA 94038

              1 Reply
              1. re: ML8000

                Nope. The bar food may be okay, the but regular menu is definitely below average.

              2. Paragon, in the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley, has an exceptionally nice view
                of water, particularly at sunset. However, the water is the bay. And the water
                is at least 3 miles away. Though on a clear day you can see the Farallones
                from there.


                Tony's or Nick's Cove up in Marshall? At least an hour away.

                Ketch Joanne or Barbara's Fish Trap down in Princeton?

                8 Replies
                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                  Plan on at least 1.5 hours from SF to Nick's Cove. Excellent food. Pricey. Lunch for 2 (shared salad, 2 entrees, 2 glasses of wine, shared dessert) was $100. It is right on the water's edge of Tomales Bay. Great place if you are willing to make the drive and pay the price.

                  1. re: Shane Greenwood

                    Unfortunately, I've heard that the food at dinner was way less than stellar.

                  2. re: Chuckles the Clone

                    the Bay and the SF skyline is a beautiful sight, but I must challenge the idea of seeing the Farallones unaided and without a much higher altitude than the Claremont. the islands are what, 30 miles off shore? across a hilly peninsula? That said, Claremont is a stunning location.

                    1. re: hill food

                      The Farallones are fairly large and -directly- out through the Golden Gate from the Claremont; no hilly peninsula to cross. The Claremont is about 600 feet and the Farallones are 100 feet high. This gives a visibility of about 50 miles. Since they're closer, they're quite easy to see from there when the fog's not in.

                    2. re: Chuckles the Clone

                      There's also Skates on the Bay in Berkeley--though I don't remember the food being mind-blowing (but the water is literally below and all around you!)

                      Skates On the Bay
                      100 Seawall Drive, Berkeley, CA 94710

                        1. re: rworange

                          Agreed--but I replied to a thread that originated talking about the bay view from Berkeley.

                    3. How about Miramar Beach Restaurant in HMB? Great ocean view, free parking! and the food is very okay! A bit at the top of your present price range depending on choices, but all the meals I've had there the food has been fresh and well prepared (and generous servings). If you phone them about the special occasion I bet they'd arrange a nice window table.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: estnet

                        I haven't been to the Miramar recently, but my experience was more along the lines of sloppily prepared overpriced food and very indifferent service. When were you there last?

                        1. re: Steve Green

                          I haven't been, but I signed up on their mailing list when they had a contest for free dinner ... they did remodel and redo a little of their menu ... that's not saying it is any good ... don't know.

                          I think Nick's Rockaway might be one of the better choices.

                          1. re: Steve Green

                            a few months ago. Probably depends a lot on what you order - I had fried oysters that were fresh and properly cooked. Also had raw oysters - prices seemed in line for the quality. Service was fine (and LOADS better than Sam's - where it is so bad I'll not go back) - but I was there at a time when it wasn't busy.

                        2. What day of the week is this and what time? Where are you based - SF or the Peninsula?

                          You might consider Nick's Rockaway or Portofino in Pacific,. Both are right on the beach and not far from SF. There's easy parking at both.

                          Haven't been to Portofino, but I have been to Nick's and your mom might really like it. It is very old school, but in a good way. The room is nice too. Fab view better than the Cliff House, IMO. Get the spumoni for dessert. Very good.

                          Neither restaurant has prices so you would have to call Portofino. Nick's doesn't have an online menu but I know prices are in the range you requested.

                          If you don't want to go to Sutro's, you could always go to the Bistro at the Cliff House which has a better view, though unfortunately not the same chef. The food is pricy for what it is and only ok. They do have popovers. They don't take reservations but you said you were thinking of getting a drink before dinner anyway so you could wait in the lounge if there isn't a table immediately available.

                          Another restaurant in Half Moon Bay is Half Moon Bay Brewery. You would have to call to assure that you had a view.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: rworange

                            Half Moon Bay Brewery doesn't really have a view. It is on Princeton Harbor, so even if you could see water, it's not open ocean.

                            Moss Beach Distillery and Miramar are both lovely locations. Miramar is right on the beach and MBD has a lovely terrace on a cliff above the water. Both are great spots for a drink and the view, but the food has never impressed me and they are pricey for what you get.

                            Nick's might be the best bet. It is really old school, kind of a 50's or 60's vibe, but the food is reliable. They have all the SF standards for sea food and also a pretty wide ranging menu in addition to seafood. Your not going to get an extensive wine list but they do have a full bar. On the weekends they might even have entertainment in the lounge. Prices are reasonable. It's a friendly place where a lot of patrons know everyone in the restaurant.

                            Portofino is right next door in the Lighthouse Hotel that restaurant seems to change identies every few years. I haven't been for a while but I wasn't impressed with the food, typical hotel restaurant, don't know what the current incarnation is like. The room is terraced so that even those table that are not right along the windows get a nice view.

                            A little further south is the Pacifica Beach Resort Hotel. I went there a couple of times when they first opened several years ago and was very disappointed with the food. The hotel looks nice and views are good but I haven't been back. BTW I live in Pacifica.

                            In summary, Nick's is comfortable, affordable, steps from the ocean and you will find something to please everyone in the family.

                          2. Has anyone tried Murray Circle? It is a Bay view, not a true Pacific Ocean view. But based on the location and what I've read, the view is spectacular, nestled under the Golden Gate. I see they do offer brunch on weekends. May be a bit pricey for kateeats needs, but I'm curious to know what this crowd thinks.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: BernalKC

                                No. Would not do at all. While there is a view of the bay in the Golden Gate (as opposed to Golden Gate Bridge for which it is named), the restaurant is set back from that water view. I don't think it would do it for this person. Also, it is out of the price range requested

                              2. Here's the latest, bay would be okay with Mom. Today she asked about Spenger's and Spinnaker so it's "water" she's hoping for. She didn't realize Spengers didn't come with a view. So those of you with BAY ideas, please throw them out there (or here rather).

                                Thank you all, great suggestions!

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: kateats

                                  If Moms is okay with Spenger's but needs a view, there's Scott's and Kincaids on Jack London Square. Both will be on the water...piers and such. The food will be of the same grade as Spenger's. Also Skates (same outfit as Kincaids) on the Berkeley Marina.

                                  In SF, you might consider Epic Roast House or Waterbar next door.

                                  I took my Dad to Spenger's for father's day...it was totally fine. Not hip, cutting edge or anything but the fish was fresh and they listed farmed, wild, local where the fish was caught.

                                  1. re: ML8000

                                    If Sutro's is out of the price range, then that really disqualifies Epic and Waterbar.

                                    There is McCormick & Kuleto's in SF with a fabulous view. They are the same owners as Spengers. If you went for lunch,The Waterfront in SF might do

                                    1. re: ML8000

                                      You might want to look into the places in Sausalito as well. Try Scoma's. Might be at the higher end of your price range, but it's better food than Spenger's and Scott's and directly on the water, built on it's own little pier.


                                      Scoma's Sausalito
                                      588 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965

                                      1. re: ML8000

                                        Scott's at JLS is *far* above spenger's in terms of food, unless things have changed at spenger's in the last decade. I consider spenger's on the verge of inedible. It's a party atmosphere if you're 18 and the year is 1972.

                                        Scott's, though - very decent for a birthday party. There's a thread a while back about the quality at the different Scott's, and some feeling that Scott's JLS might be above the Scott's average. They feel very nautical, but the view is only of the alameda channel.

                                        Skate's is probably an excellent middle ground. Their food is middling, but the view is top-10.

                                        Did I hear something about Hs Lordships' turning

                                        When we were talking ocean view, I was considering recommending the Taco Bell with the world's best view - the one by the surfer's beach on the south end of Pacifica - Mira Vista, maybe? but that would be tongue in cheek. Place wins for best $5 view, though.

                                        And, er, what about Slanted Door?

                                        1. re: bbulkow

                                          I use to think the same about Spenger's but they have improved...and it was terrible for a long time. I'm not saying it's great or my first choice ever but I thought it was better then Kincaid's. The only reason why I went was because I took my Dad to Golden Gate Fields and figured it was easy and he knew the place. As always, you mileage may vary.

                                          1. re: bbulkow

                                            An 80 year old requesting Spenger's or Spinnaker would be really unhappy with Slanted Door ... probably would prefer Sinbad's to it ... and by NO means go to Sinbad.

                                            There's a Japanese restaurant in the Berkeley Marina. Unless Hs Lordship changed since my 2008 Christmas brunch there, it is not Japanese and there was no indication of any change at that time. While the view is nice and the staff very friendly, unless you want a restaurant that feels like it is being catered by Lucky's ... avoid.

                                            1. re: bbulkow

                                              Hana is the Japanese restaurant in the Marina. Teppan style dining may not be the best choice for a 80th birthday party.

                                              Hana Japan
                                              235 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                              1. re: wolfe

                                                And, at the risk of being repetitive, there's no view.

                                        2. Spinnaker in Sausalito has one of the most beautiful water views in the Bay Area. Wish the food was as abfab. The food is not bad however, especially if you order carefully and stick with the simple. Go for an early dinner so you get the full force of floor to ceiling window framed views, especially if its a nice day and the boats are coming in from the bay. Not cheap, but given the real estate, reasonable.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: annabana


                                            Spinnaker Restaurant
                                            100 Spinnaker Drive, Sausalito, CA 94965

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              Everything in Sausalito tastes better if you take the ferry to get there....

                                            2. re: annabana

                                              Took an out-of-town visitor to the Spinnaker and we were pleased. We had the bouillabaisse which was very good, and at 20 bucks, the price ain't bad. Another time I ordered the petrale sole and it was not good, so I'd stick with the stews and salads.

                                            3. Well now that the Bay is included in the view - I can't believe that nobody has suggested Fish in Sausalito - they are the best Seafood resturant in the Bay Area - DONT go to Spengers they are expensive and unfortunalty the food is really bad always overcooked

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: conwine

                                                I like Fish a lot but I think it may be too casual for this occasion. Spenger's makes no sense anyway because there is no view. A very inward-turning place.

                                                1. re: conwine

                                                  At Fish, you
                                                  1. order at the counter after standing on a long line for a long long time.
                                                  2. sit at picnic tables
                                                  3. drink from mason jars
                                                  4. don't all get your food at the same time
                                                  Plus the bay view is of a somewhat industrial little backwater
                                                  filled with random boats and floating things

                                                  It's my new favorite excuse to bicycle over the bridge, but it's
                                                  absolutely not the sort of place I'd ever take mom for a birthday

                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                    Sorry for the very delayed reply to Mom's birthday dinner. Siblings thought Crab Landing was the ticket. The view was nice and the family was there. That accomplished Mom's original request. Unfortunately the food was marginal (not bad but definitely not good) and the prices matched Sutro which I thought we were trying to avoid. So for the money we could have gone to Sutro darn it!

                                                    Thanks for the suggestions and I'm so so sorry I couldn't take advantage.

                                                    1. re: kateats

                                                      Thanks for reporting back ... and happy belated birthday to your mom.

                                                      What did you try at Crab Landing?

                                                      Crab Landing Seafood & Steakhouse
                                                      260 Capistrano Rd, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

                                                    2. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                      This probably belongs on another thread, but MASON JARS for beverages!!???

                                                      I've seen this occasionally, and regard it as an affectation of the worst sort. I grew up on a farm, and Mom did a lot of canning. She wouldn't dream of putting jars on the table for us to drink from. She would be insulted by the very idea.

                                                  2. If you're looking at Sausalito, please check Le Garage, a great little French bistro on the water, with outdoor tables right next to the marina. It's near the Bay Model. The traditional bistro food is really good with daily specials, they have a tasty little wine list with lots of interesting "by the glass" choices, and the staff is thoughtful and well-trained. They really want to make your meal a pleasant one! My only caveat for your mom is that you might want to drop her at the door, and then park (rather far away in the lot) and the bathroom is not in the building--someone should get specific directions from the staff and accompany her. My husband had trouble finding it! That aside, I love Le Garage and have hesitated to mention it for fear of making it too popular (in these harsh economic times, fat chance!) but I think it could be a great place for a birthday. Bring your own birthday cake!

                                                    1 Reply