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The Embarcadero| © Salim Virji/Flickr
The Embarcadero| © Salim Virji/Flickr

Best Restaurants On The Embarcadero Esplanade, San Francisco

Picture of Brixton Key
Updated: 9 February 2017
The Embarcadero esplanade in San Franciso, California offers vivid visual delights and a wide choice of restaurants. We profile the most tantalizing restaurants in the area.

EPIC Steak

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.

EPIC Steak, 369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, USA

Window view at EPIC Steak

Window view at EPIC Steak | © Brixton Key

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.  

Red’s Java House, Pier 30, San Francisco, CA, USA

Red's Java House

Red’s Java House | © Brixton Key

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.  

Palomino Restaurant and Bar, 345 Spear Street, San Francisco, CA, USA

The Palomino

Casual lunching at The Palomino | © Brixton Key


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. 

Waterbar, 399 Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, USA

The Waterbar.

Terrace at the Waterbar | © Brixton Key


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.

Perry’s, 155 Steuart Street, San Francisco, CA, USA

Chaya Brasserie

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.

Chaya Brasserie, 132 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA, USA

Chaya 2

The F Line reflected in the window of Chaya Brasserie | © Brixton Key

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.

Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick Cafe & Milk Bar, 1 Ferry Building No. 19, San Francisco, CA, USA

Cowgirl Creamery Side Kick

Macaroni and cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich | © Brixton Key

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.

il Cane Rosso, 1 Ferry Building No. 41,San Francisco, CA, USA

il Cane Rosso

Daily specials at il Cane Rosso | © Brixton Key

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. 

The Slanted Door, 1 Ferry Building No. 3, San Francisco, CA, USA

The Slanted Door

Lunchtime at The Slanted Door | © Brixton Key