San Francisco has several restaurants where diners can enjoy breathtaking views of the city while eating and drinking. From picture postcard views of the Pacific Ocean and the Bay to twinkling city lights, here are the city’s best restaurants with a view of San Francisco’s most iconic spots.
For a View of the Pacific Ocean:
Perched on a rock bluff on the western edge of San Francisco, The Cliff House consists of two oceanfront restaurants. Downstairs is the higher-end Sutro, a stylish yet casual restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows and stunning panoramic Pacific Ocean views. Indulge in their heirloom tomato salad or soup made from tomatoes organically grown in Sonoma, Calif.. For a more laid-back breakfast, lunch and dinner, head upstairs to Bistro for a bird’s eye view of the mighty ocean below. Items here include warm popovers, clam chowder, and cocktails like Bloody Marys and a refreshing Ramos Fizz, a conduction of Gordon's Gin, sweet and sour, egg whites, Half & Half, orange juice, and orange flower water.
For a meal with a memorable view, the Bistro is a good bet. Photo credit: The Cliff House
For a View of the Golden Gate Bridge:
Murray Circle at Cavallo Point offers a dramatic view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Located inside the Lodge at the Golden Gate, the best views are from the porch. Executive Chef Justin Everett describes his food as “ingredient-driven” and his menu of Northern California cuisine includes house-cured charcuterie and his signature Sonoma duck pastrami and a pork terrine.
For a Panoramic View of San Francisco:
Located on the 19th floor of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco, Top of the Mark is a lounge that boasts a panoramic view of some of San Francisco’s landmarks, such as Alcatraz, the Marin Headlands, and the Golden Gate Bridge. For more than 70 years, locals have flocked to this Nob Hill sky lounge to sip martinis from its martini menu that features 100 martinis. Top sellers include the lychee, green apple, and lemon drop.
For a Waterfront View of the Bay:
Located on the south end of Rincon Park on San Francisco’s scenic Embarcadero, Waterbar offers a panoramic view of the Bay and the San Francisco skyline. The bar/restaurant also boasts 19-foot, floor to-ceiling aquariums filled with exotic fish. Seasonal sustainable seafood is the highlight, served straight from the back-lit raw bar.
For a View of the Embarcadero:
The Embarcadero is a waterfront strip along San Francisco Bay populated with restaurants, bars, and shops. The Java House Restaurant is a bay front San Francisco coffee shop whose closing times sometime depend on when the San Francisco Giants are in town as it is located next to AT&T Park. Grab a cup of java and the popular corned beef hash for breakfast or the double cheeseburger on a sourdough roll for lunch.
For a View of Yerba Buena Park
Inside the lush Yerba Buena Gardens, Samovar Tea Lounge is housed on a terrace overlooking the esplanade, making a great respite particularly on sunny days. The tea lounge offers five tea services including a Japanese tea service with ryokucha green tea, choice of tofu or smoke salmon, Wakame seaweed salad, seasoned brown rice, steamed kale, toasted nori, and soup, an Ayurvedic tea service is masala chai, kitchari (stewed Indian lentils), and basmati rice, and Moorish service with Moorish mint herbal infusion, Halloumi cheese and veggie kebabs, mixed greens salad, edamame hummus, walnut Chevré-stuffed dates, olives, Greek yogurt, and herbed crackers.
For a View of Presideo and Crissy Field:
For a view of Presideo, a park and former military base on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, and Crissy Field, a former U.S. Army airfield and also a park, head for an alfresco snack at Let’s Be Frank Hot Dog Stand. The hot dog stand (one of several in San Francisco and Los Angeles) just east of the Golden Gate Bridge is run by Sue Moore, a former “meat forager” at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif. and Larry Bain, a restaurant professional and member of San Francisco’s Sustainable Food Systems team, who serve, locally-made, grass-fed all-beef dogs.
Kat Ernst is the San Francisco Travel City Editor.