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• San Francisco Ferry Building •

What kind of predictable tourist uses a ferry terminal just to catch a boat? Not me. Not since the City of San Francisco has done such a magnificent job in renovating their ferry building. Located at the eastern end of Market St. The Ferry Building is a transportation nexus. Ferries, streetcars, busses and BART are all nearby.

When most municipal building projects are undertaken, the results are anything but spectacular. It seems like local governments display too much of a nod to bureaucracy (boo) and not enough to good taste. Not so with the San Francisco Ferry Building, which has been transformed from a slum-quality dump to one of the most posh and desireable places to shop, eat yummy chow, and (oh yeah) catch the occasional ferry. Great names in retail and restaurants from around the Bay Area have been carefully chosen to sell their wares at the building. A bustling farmers market is located there on Tuesdays and Saturdays during Summer and Winter. In Spring and Fall, it's there on Thursdays and Sundays too.

There are so many good places to eat at the ferry building that I didn't want to fill up at any one or two venues. So I transformed it into one big tasting menu! That means lots of little bites, pacing myself so that you don't get too full to keep going. Forget about the "Breakfast-Lunch-Dinner", that's for saps! If you go with a mate, share one burger at a burger shack. Split the drink. This is a marathon after all, not just a meal.

I've done the homework for you with the Metro-Menu, so you can just follow what I did if you want. Or use my experience as a guide for your own custom-made menu. Have fun, and happy traveling!


Day 1 at the Ferry Building

  1. Golden Gate Meat Co.
  2. Ferry Plaza Seafood
  3. Taylor's Refresher (to go)
  4. Cioa Bella
  5. Scharfenberger Chocolate
  6. Out the Door
  7. Hog Island Oyster Co.

1st course

Golden Gate Meat Co.
1 Ferry Building #13
San Francisco, CA


What kind of stacked dish doesn’t like a meat market? Not me. When I’m in the mood to chew the fat, I commute to the bridge.

Breakfast sandwich ($5): This is a good reason to be out of bed before 10:30 a.m. (when they strictly stop serving these.) I didn't think that they looked too appealing sitting in the hot case. In my mind, hot case = tired and overcooked. But taking a bite, I discovered a perfectly cooked fried egg with a runny yolk, smoky bacon and melty cheese on a Kaiser roll. The cheddar could have been even sharper, but it was an exceptional breakfast sandwich.

They also carry lunch and dinner items. I have had their rotisserie chicken a number of times which is just fine. I was less impressed by their ribs, mac and cheese, and veggies. There is a butcher counter for DIY carnivores.


From Golden Gate Meats to Ferry Plaza Seafood:

2nd course

Ferry Plaza Seafood
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA


What kind of invertebrate bottom feeder doesn't like a counter offer? Not me. When I heard about FPS's chowder, I shelled out some clams.

Service: Sit at the counter and give your order. The servers are friendly and knowledgeable.

Atmosphere: A white marble counter winds it's way towards the fish display. Giant windows let in the sun as you watch the ferries come and go. This place is what Fisherman's wharf should be. Good local seafood, beautiful surroundings, yet casual.

It feels like old SF, but it's new...

Iced Tea ($1.75): Tasty and refreshing.

Clam chowder ($4.50 cup):
Creamy, peppery and dotted with potato chunks. The clams in this New England style dish were fresh but slightly rubbery from it's stay in the hot chowder pot.

From Ferry Plaza Seafood to Taylor's To Go:

3rd course

Taylor's To Go
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA


What kind of small fry doesn't like semi-fast food? Not me. When I want refreshment, I automatically head for the T.

Service: Order at the register, give your name and wait for your order. It's not the speediest situation, but the food is made to order.

Atmosphere: It's a takeaway counter on the opposite side of the kitchen from the sit down restaurant. Great place to get a to go order to take to the benches outside.

Fish Tacos ($8.99):
Twin corn tortillas are filled with ling cod, cabbage, hot salsa with jalapeños, sour cream and cilantro. Nicely zesty from the peppers and tempered by the sour cream. I particularly like the way the chiffonade of cabbage adds crunch and texture.

This is the to go counter behind Taylor's Automatic Refresher (which serves salads, burgers, soups and seafood.) They do a fine job for a semi-fast food restaurant using high quality ingredients like Double Rainbow ice cream in their milkshakes and All natural beef for their burgers (from Golden Gate Meats a few doors down in the Ferry Building.) They even have a wine list, but if you prefer, you can bring in your own (check out Ferry Plaza wine merchant down the way for a great selection.) Corkage is one buck.


From Taylor's To Go to Ciao Bella:

4th course

Ciao Bella
1 Ferry Building #8
San Francisco, CA


What kind of double dipper doesn't like a nice cold scoop? Not me. when I'm in need of a nice ice. I say “ciao bella”

This is a great place to go even if you want a lighter dessert. Sure, the chocolate gelato is fantastic, but you really can't go wrong with whatever you order here. They even have alcohol enhanced flavors. Everything is tasty and interesting. They keep the usual suspect flavors and mix in a few random ones as their mood and the season dictates.


Cup with 2 flavors ($3.50):
I chose the Grapefruit Campari ice topped off with Lemon ice. This was delish. I usually find myself topping off a fruity ice with the lemon as a nice puckery contrast.

They get a bit of a queue going, but it's worth the short wait for their cold refreshing desserts (or you can think of the ices as “palate cleansers” during a metro menu.)

From Ciao Bella to Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker:

5th course

Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA
(415) 981-9150


What kind of pod person doesn’t like a fermented bean? Not me. When I want a flavanoid fix, I nib over to the berger.

This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie ($1.50.):

Crisp, thin and buttery with chunks of dark, rich, Scharfen Berger chocolate.


From Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker to Out The Door:

6th course

Out The Door
1 Ferry Building #3
San Francisco, CA


What kind of crazed conservative Nixes Vietnamese food? Not me. When I heard that Charles Phan opened a takeaway stand outside his restaurant (The Slanted Door.) I didn't protest.

Service: Queue up, order and wait for your number to be called. There is a small counter where you can watch the food preparation or you can stand at one of the elevated tables. The food is packaged to be portable enough to take anywhere.

Atmospere: Clean, minimalist, chic.


Green Papaya Salad ($7.00):
Ribbons of green papaya, carrots and fried tofu mingle with cucumber slices, scallions, cilantro, celery, peanuts and a rice wine vinegar dressing to create a fresh, tangy, crunchy and complex snack. This summery salad is a winner.

Out the Door serves Rolls (both bread rolls and spring rolls), Soups, Noodle and rice dishes as well as Boba drinks, desserts, Blue bottle coffee, and teas.


From Out The Door to Hog Island Oyster Co:

7th course

Hog Island Oyster Co.
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA


What kind of piggy eater doesn't like to down a bunch of pearl factories? Not me. When I found Hog Island, I thought that Ismus be my lucky day.
The best time to go is during “happy hour.” Monday and Thursday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. which is actually more than an hour (and more than happy for that matter.) Get sweetwaters for a buck a shuck and a pint of draught for $2.50 (but call to confirm prices and times so you aren't disappointed) This is the best deal in town for tasty, fresh, fruits of the sea in a fun, sunny and spacious setting.


A pretty epi with a nicely crisp crust and chewy interior rounds out your oyster snack perfectly.

If you do go for happy hour, be prepared for a bit of a mob scene. There are lots of gastero-in-the-knowmes around here. So don't be in a big rush, just enjoy your drink and don't get shaken about your 'sters.



  Whew! That's it for day one. Go into the city or take a ferry home. Then click for the...


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