Best Restaurants in the Ferry Building

The iconic food hall's best small bites, sweet treats and full meals
July 23, 2017
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by Zagat Staff

San Francisco's Ferry Building boasts enough beloved and diverse restaurants and vendors to make it the city's signature all-day food destination, from your morning waffle at Blue Bottle Coffee to Vietnamese fare for dinner at The Slanted Door to boozy ice cream dessert at Humphry Slocombe, and a host of cheeses, breads, chowders, shakes and beverages in between. With so many tempting options, which do you choose? We've got the answers for you.

Not listed here: The Ferry Building holds three farmer's markets each week (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), adding even more tempting lunch choices from Roli Roti's porchetta sandwich to Primavera's chilaquiles. For more formal dining, the Embarcadero area has a number of strong choices including Boulevard, Chaya, Coqueta, La Mar and the surf 'n' turf duo of Epic Steak and Waterbar for unbeatable Bay Bridge views. The only rule for this area? Come hungry.  

Hog Island Oyster Co.
Oyster Bar · Embarcadero · $$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.0 · Service 4.2

This "sensational" Ferry Building seafooder is a "dream come true for oyster lovers" , now boasting even "more beautiful views of the bay" courtesy of a heated patio; ok, it’s "not cheap" and there’s always a "crowd" , but somehow the staff holds it together with "wit and charm" ; P.S. there’s also a wine-country satellite in Napa’s Oxbow Market.
Boulibar
Mediterranean · Embarcadero · $$$
Food 4.3 · Decor 4.1 · Service 3.8

This "casual" sit-down eatery in the Ferry Building from the Boulettes Larder team lures market shoppers to its "long communal tables" with "delicious" Californian fare that's "always at its freshest" including wood-fired pizzas, salads and Mediterranean mezes; it's all served by an "accommodating" staff in a "fantastic" modern setting that "would look completely at home in a Scandinavian design magazine" , with a well-curated wine list and evening hours offering added appeal.
The Slanted Door
Vietnamese · Embarcadero · $$$
Food 4.6 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.2

"All that it’s cracked up to be" , Charles Phan’s "vibrant" Embarcadero "icon" still draws "throngs" with its "outstanding" array of "contemporary" Vietnamese dishes fashioned from local, sustainable ingredients and an "interesting wine list" focused on German and Austrian whites; be sure to "make reservations" (or snag a seat at the bar), and don’t mind the "pricey" tabs and "deafening" din since it’s "hard to beat" the "stunning" Ferry Building berth overlooking the bay.
Humphry Slocombe
Ice Cream · Embarcadero · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 3.6 · Service 4.0

Enthusiasts line up for "vibrant" cups and cones at these "cool" ice cream parlors, where the seasonal selection's "adventurous flavors" feature sassy names ( "two words: Secret Breakfast" ) and surprising ingredients like bourbon and cornflakes; prices are "fair" for the "premium" quality, so "don't be deterred" if there's a wait.
Gott's Roadside
American · Embarcadero · $$
Food 4.1 · Decor 3.4 · Service 3.6

"21st-century versions of a 1950s burger joint" , these "self-serve" diners add some "gourmet" spins via "amazing" ahi poke tacos and "top-notch wines" , as well as more "traditional" comfort-food standards; despite "epic lines" , fans insist you "gott-ta try it."
Blue Bottle Coffee
Coffee · Embarcadero · $
Food 4.3 · Decor 3.8 · Service 4.0

Seekers of a "jolt of energy" tout this third-wave coffee chain for its "seriously good" java served (along with a "minimal" menu of Californian eats) by "people who care about the craft" , making each cup "to order" while trying to ensure the inevitable lines "move fast" ; some "just don't get" the "total hipster" "cult" surrounding the brand, but those who factor in the "vibrant" atmosphere swear it's "worth the expense."
Dandelion Chocolate
Chocolate · The Mission · $
Food 4.5 · Decor 4.3 · Service 4.1

Like an "artisanal Willy Wonka's" , this "phenomenal" Mission chocolatier and cafe's "small-scale" production of "high-quality chocolate" (on view in the back) winds up in "mind-blowing" brownie flights, hot or cold "drinkables" and "delectable" pastries; the setting’s typically "low-key" and it's relatively "pricey" , but "if you’re looking for something sweet" , it’s "a life goal" ; P.S. there’s also a kiosk in the Ferry Building.
Acme Bread Co
Bakery · $

Dubbed the "mother ship of artisanal bread" , this "homegrown" "bakery classic" (founded in 1983) with Berkeley and Embarcadero retail outposts makes it "overwhelming to choose" among "fabulous" loaves ranging from sweet to sourdough, French to Italian and more; given the "top quality" at a "fair price" , "long lines" come as no surprise – thankfully a pro staff keeps things moving.
Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick Cafe & Milk Bar
Sandwich · Embarcadero · $
Food 4.6 · Decor 3.7 · Service 4.0

"Silky, flavorful" "cheeses galore" are the main attraction in the "delicious" breakfast and lunch bites – including "amazing mac ’n’ cheese" and "decadent" grilled cheese sandwiches – at this Ferry Building "walk-up counter" from the namesake gourmet dairy; while "not inexpensive" for a nook with "no sit-down area" , it’s "unique" "for a quick snack" on the run.