The Buena Vista has that old time charm that only comes with century-old bars. (It has existed in San Francisco since 1916.) Here, the famous Irish Coffee has been a thing since it was first concocted in 1952. Allegedly, they’ve served the exact same recipe of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar and aged cream ever since. Obviously it is delicious if it’s lasted this long.
2 Gary Danko
Do not go to Gary Danko for the fixed price tasting experience. Do go to the bar and order a la carte from the menu: the cheese cart, risotto, trio of creme brulee, and soufflé´ are all best in class. Level up with caviar service, which is decadent and traditional.
3 Cafe de Casa
A sweet little Brasilian-owned cafe tucked over by the Holiday Inn. Come for all manner of Brasilian street food: acai made with guardana; classic pastries like enroladinho (coconut bread filled with cheese), coxinha (breaded dough filled with shredded chicken and cream cheese; pictured); and spongy traditional-style white crepes with savory fillings. Other highlights: pour-over coffee and housemade hot sauce labeled with “caution” and nothing more.
4 In-N-Out Burger
Enjoying the distinction of being the only In-N-Out within San Francisco city limits often makes this location the sole reason for locals to go to the Wharf. It’s a constantly bustling environment, filled with hungry tourists from all over the world, and locals from all walks of life. Check out a typical afternoon at California’s favorite burger chain, and head down for a double double.
5 Scoma’s Restaurant
Despite the fact that it’s so touristy, Scoma’s is secretly a San Francisco gem. It’s been around since 1965. They have their own fishing boat for salmon and crabs. And they just upgraded their cocktail program and menu quite a bit. If you’ve got to have a sit down fancy-ish dinner somewhere on Fisherman’s Wharf, this is the place. (Check out the making of their “lazy man’s cioppino” here.)
San Francisco is not known for its Korean food, but if you are craving pajun, jook, or bibimbap this spot has solid Californized versions of all of the above. Owners Steven and Jiyeon Choi — who also own Kitchen Story, Sweet Maple, and a few other San Francisco neighborhood staples — have created a very decent American-style brunch, including popovers, sweet-spicy millionaire bacon, and super-thick blueberry-stuffed French toast. Atmosphere is clean, modern, androgynous.
7 The Codmother
England-born Suzanne Acevedo knows her way around a fryer. She founded this humble trailer in 2011 because she missed the fish ‘n’ chips from her homeland. Now she’s serving some of the best food on the Wharf, and some of the best fish tacos in San Francisco.
8 Alioto’s Restaurant
While wandering around the Wharf, Alioto’s kinda retro bar is a great place to sneak into for a cocktail. The Alioto’s are a historical San Francisco family, credited for inventing cioppino and being the first to construct along the the shoreline today known as Fisherman’s Wharf. Talk about that while downing a martini.
9 Gold Dust Lounge
The new version of this storied San Francisco bar is a good place for a decent cocktail with a heavy dose of Fisherman’s Wharf vibrations. Snuggle into one of the red velour booths with a stiff one and ogle the crowds.
10 Forbes Island Restaurant — TEMPORARILY CLOSED
Not so much a destination for the food as it is for the experience, Forbes Island is actually a restaurant and bar built into a houseboat that has been outfitted to look like an island with a light house on it. The brainchild (and former home) of floating building empresario Forbes Kiddoo, it’s an only-in-San Francisco treasure that should be experienced at least once. (Editor’s note: It’s sometimes closed for maintenance, so be sure to double-check before you go.)