Best Restaurants and Bars Near Pier 39

Watch the sea lions, eat the crab enchiladas and drink all the Negronis
November 6, 2017
by Zagat Staff

San Franciscans, particularly the food lovers, generally consider this amusement park pier a tourist trap. Luckily, the adjacent streets in North Beach and along the Embarcadero are full of wine bars, old-school steakhouses and family-friendly waterfront spots. Take in the pier views and the sea lions, then tuck into the area's best eats and drinks, from a famous burger to pitch-perfect martinis to Dungeness-crab everything.

Crab House at Pier 39
Seafood · Fisherman's Wharf · $$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.2

This "busy" Fisherman's Wharf seafooder features "delicious" crab and lobster that find their way into the signature garlic sauce as well as soups, salads and sandwiches; "friendly" servers work the nautically decorated, "diner-style" space with "nice views of the bay" , and while a few find it "touristy" , others tout it as their "favorite place to bring out-of-town guests."
Cafe · Embarcadero · $

Breakfast and lunch items get the Italian treatment at this Levi’s Plaza-Embarcadero area nook, where offerings include brunchy basics, pastas, pressed sandwiches and more, plus pick-me-ups like gelato and coffee. Floor-to-ceiling windows, blond wood and modern fixtures give the compact space a clean, modern feel.
Spanish · Embarcadero · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.2

Experience Michael Chiarello's "magic at its best" at this "happening" Spaniard (and Bottega sibling) on the Embarcadero, where a "rustic" locale with "perfect bay views" sets the stage for sharing the "delectable" likes of paella, bite-size pintxos and tapas, all punched up with "American twirl and show" and ferried by an "efficient" staff; even with "platinum-card" pricing, it's a "very popular" spot with a "lively" bar for "sipping cleverly constructed cocktails" and regional wines.
Scoma's Restaurant
Seafood · Fisherman's Wharf · $$$
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.1 · Service 4.3

Locals and tourists alike laud these "old-school" "family favorites" that "keep the quality up" via "top-notch" Italian-style seafood, from "wonderful crab" to "must" -try cioppino; a few say it's "not what it used to be" , but the "seasoned" staff and "beautiful" waterfront views still make for "a true San Fran tradition" by most standards.
Albona Restaurant
Italian · North Beach · $$$
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.4

With its "stellar" Istrian dishes (a blend of Italian, Croatian and Slovenian cuisines), this "unpretentious gem" in North Beach offers a "distinctive" dining experience in an "off-the-beaten-track" locale that's "easy to miss but hard to forget" ; you may "bump elbows" in the "small space" , but it's overseen by "gracious" servers who "make you feel like family."
Fog City
American · Embarcadero · $$$
Food 4.0 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.0

This "SF institution" with an "iconic setting" overlooking the Embarcadero is anchored by a central bar and an open kitchen turning out "wood-fired" New American small and large plates plus desserts such as "housemade custard and French crullers" ; it may be "noisy" , but "skilled" mixologists and proximity to "touristy" destinations make it ideal for a "nice date" or "to take out-of-town guests."
Bistro Boudin
Bistro · Fisherman's Wharf · $$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.0 · Service 3.9

Fisherman's Wharf bread buffs who "watch and smell" the signature sourdough being made at this "old favorite" head upstairs to its "semi-fancy" dining space, where "must-not-miss" clam chowder is served along with other "hearty" , "basic" Cal dishes; service is "efficient" but "limited" amid the "hustle and bustle" of "tourists" vying for the "beautiful" views of the bay.
Park Tavern
Gastropub · North Beach
Food 4.4 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

Go for dinner and "stay for the people-watching" at this "trendy" tavern touted for its "iconic" North Beach location and "delicious" New American menu; it's "not cheap" and the "lovely" , wood-beamed digs can get "noisy" , but "smooth" service and a "lively" bar scene fueled by "on-point" cocktails make it perfect for a "group celebration."
Gold Dust Karaoke & Bar Lounge
Bar · Fisherman's Wharf · $$

A retro marquee sign is a hint at the old-world party vibe inside this classic bar and lounge (a 1933 Union Square mainstay that moved to Fisherman's Wharf in 2013). Expect art-deco-meets-honky-tonk decor, live music, red banquettes and a menu from signature Irish coffees to an oyster bar to flatbread pizzas.
Bodega North Beach
Wine Bar · North Beach · $$

Look for well-priced New American eats plus coffee, beer and wine at this charming North Beach bistro that opens for nightly dinner and weekend brunch, welcoming diners in an airy, modern interior with custom-crafted tables, banquettes, counter seating along the windows and upscale design touches.
Original Joe's
Italian · North Beach · $$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.3

A “classier” North Beach remake of the shuttered Tenderloin original, this Italian “standard” rolls out “big portions” of “red-sauce” fare accompanied by “perfect cocktails” ; though cynics wonder “what’s original about it?” , supporters say it’s “still going strong” thanks to “old-world charm” , “warm service” and “reasonable” tabs.
Tony's Pizza Napoletana
Pizza · North Beach · $$
Food 4.7 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.0

"It's hard to find a better pie" than those among the "great variety" of "incredible" pizzas (Neapolitan-style, "Sicilian, Californian, Roman" , even "gluten-free" ) that famed chef-owner Tony Gemignani tosses and cooks to a crisp in seven types of ovens at his "lively" "North Beach gem" ; a "brutal" wait for a table is part of the package, but a "motivated" staff keeps things humming.
Fior d'Italia
Italian · North Beach · $$$
Food 4.2 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.2

Transporting patrons "back to a San Francisco that doesn’t exist anymore" , this "authentic" trattoria (said to be the "oldest Italian restaurant" in town) relocated to North Beach’s San Remo Hotel some years back; after all these years, fans find the "well-prepared" pastas and other "classic" cucina still "impressive."
In-N-Out Burger
Burger · Fisherman's Wharf · $
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.5 · Service 4.1

"Not your typical burger joint" , this "iconic" California-born chain is "loved" for its "high-quality" "customizable" hamburgers (insiders ask for them "animal style" ) paired with "tasty" fresh-cut fries and shakes; despite a "lightning-fast" counter, there are usually "long waits" , but "cheap" tabs and "friendly, Disney-esque" service keep regulars returning.
Carmel Pizza Company
Pizza · Fisherman's Wharf · $$

The Neapolitan pies are made with traditional dough (using double-zero flour), topped with everything from pepperoncini to artichoke, and cooked in a wood-fired oven at this Fisherman's Wharf pizza cafe. Patrons order from a window then sit outdoors in a charming, partially covered (and heated) garden space.