The decor inside EPIC Steak is cool and modern and the views from the second floor Oyster Bar spectacular. Meanwhile the tables on the open Inside Out Room are brisk and lively. The lunch menu is delicious as always. The EPIC Bay View Express daily special, with pancetta cauliflower soup, pork belly bánh mì, and a G-rated rose peach cocktail is as sweet as the warm Pacific day. Lunch and dinner are served every day and brunch is available on weekends.
Red’s Java House
From the working port’s past, Red’s Java House has been serving the waterfront since the 1930s at its Pier 30 location. The breakfast special back in the day was a cheeseburger and coke. It’s still a good bet today. It’s what Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Ronnie Lott polished off there before their 49ers Super Bowl Victory Parade in 1989. Red’s is a popular destination. The outdoor terrace gets filled on the weekends for breakfast and lunch, and goes beyond capacity when the Giants are at home.
Palomino Restaurant and Bar
Buzzing like a beehive, this loud techie meet-up at the end of the working day has a casual Italian lunchtime flavor during the week. There are tables at the Palomino in the open air terrace beneath the Romanesque Revival Hills Brothers Coffee Building. Otherwise, you can choose a place at the bar, or inside the restaurant which is adorned with palomino horse frescos. The small plates, especially the pizzas, are wonderful, the French fries are served in paper cones and are Parisian crisp and crunchy. This is an unhurried place for lunch.
Can it get any better than enjoying beers and cocktails on the terrace at the Waterbar? Inside at lunchtime, the restaurant will start to get busy as their prime seafood tantalizes guests’ tastebuds. With an extensive wine and cocktail menu, the restaurant is known for freshly prepared fish. It is a favorite hang-out with locals that visitors soon discover. You can’t go wrong at the Waterbar.
Perry’s is the neighborhood pub with a spectacular Bay view from the rear of the venue. The long polished bar is always full of techies, office workers, and both hi-rise and loft dwellers. Low light and a traditional American bar decor sets Perry’s apart from the edgy SOMA vibe. Eager newbie programmers rub shoulders with professional Bohos, families eating out, and artisans spotting the area. The hamburgers at Perry’s are spectacular, the wine list deep and reasonably priced and the cocktails are sharp with fine spirits. The ambiance is friendly, and the table by the fireplace is romantic on chilly days.
This place is an open secret. In the evening, Chaya Brasserie celebrates happy hour from 5.30pm until 10.30pm, Thursday to Saturdays. It closes earlier on Sundays and the beginning of the week. In the evening, the designer restaurant is full of executive assistants and elegant suits ending their day. Attorneys and techies come here to wind down, while web-masters and bloggers fill the bar and terrace. Dining is seriously good, the cuisine an impeccable mix of French and Japanese. The beautiful artsy food is as good as it gets for lunch. The menu is pricey, but who cares when the Kaisan Platter, comprises delicious Maine lobster, kumamoto oysters, gulf prawns, sashimi omakase, and day boat scallop ceviche. Wash it all down with a wonderful Californian white wine suggested by the knowledgable waitstaff.
Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick Cafe & Milk Bar
The Sidekick Cafe’s take-away cheese-centric menu was inspired by the dairy stalls at the Paris Agricultural Fair. An offshoot of the wildly successful Cowgirl Creamery next door, there’s a comforting aspect to taking a steamed vanilla milk and a cheese toastie outside of the Ferry Building to eat at a bench overlooking the Bay.
il Cane Rosso
The slow-cooked pork shoulder is a local favorite at il Cane Rosso. Translated from Italian, ‘the Red Dog’ was inspired by Southern Italy’s family-run quick food take-outs. The soul of the kitchen are the whole chickens and pork loins slow cooking in the rotisserie. The meat-based dishes, locally grown and raised ingredients, are all superb. However, try the Warm Egg Salad Sandwich with garlic anchovy butter, aged provolone and local greens. The café has seating available outside the Ferry building for people-watching, and has just gone online for pickup and delivery.
The Slanted Door
Quite possibly the most popular restaurant on the Downtown waterfront, The Slanted Door serves internationally acclaimed Vietnamese cuisine that ranges from street food to deeply satisfying meat and seafood dishes. Run by executive chef Charles Phan, this place has waitstaff who are friendly and on the ball. Here, the views through walls of plate glass are as spectacular as the splendid cocktails. While you’re there, you might want to purchase a signed copy of Phan’s cookbooks with recipes from the restaurant, and authentic Vietnamese home cooking to delight family and friends in your kitchen.