On July 13, 1898, San Francisco’s historic Ferry Building made its grand debut at the top of Market Street on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. Today, an impressive 125 years later, the building, with its iconic clocktower inspired by the Giralda bell tower in Seville, Spain, remains one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and popular visitor destinations.
But the Ferry Building is more than just a tourist hotspot. At its heart, it’s a transit center, a hub from which locals and visitors start their adventures around the area, and on Saturday mornings, it plays host to what’s arguably one of the finest farmers markets in America. Still, you don’t have to wait for the weekend to get a taste of what makes San Francisco a top-tier dining city. Since 2003 the building has also housed a retail marketplace with dozens of local merchants, makers, and, yes, restaurants.
The roster of excellent options for food and drink at the Ferry Building Marketplace includes a number of legendary local businesses such as Acme Bread, Dandelion Chocolate, and Hog Island Oyster Company. But in the past year or so, there’s also been a handful of new openings, bringing fresh flavors to the mix. Here’s a guide to 10 of the don’t-miss dishes at San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace.
A dozen Sweetwater oysters from Hog Island Oyster Co.
A pioneer of sustainable oyster farming, Hog Island pulls the sweetest creatures out of Tomales Bay. Can’t make the drive? Mercifully, there’s an oyster bar right in the Ferry Building. It’s worth waiting out the line and bellying up to the bar for a dozen of the namesake oysters with a cold glass of white and frites on the side.
Burrito at Señor Sisig
For a one-a-kind taste of the Bay Area, look no further than Señor Sisig, the street food pioneer that's been mashing up Mexican and Filipino cuisines since 2010. It started as a food truck and has since grown into a mini-chain of local restaurants, including this Ferry Building outpost where diners can eat on a small patio just off the water. The solid first-time order is the shop’s take on a Mission-style burrito, which can be stuffed with the restaurant’s namesake sisig (made with leaner pork shoulder in place of the usual blend of pig face and belly), chicken, or tofu alongside garlic rice, beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, and garlic crema. For dessert, try the ube-macapuno churros.
Saigon Latte at Red Bay Coffee
If you swing by on a Saturday morning, you’ll spot the Ferry Building outpost of Oakland’s favorite Red Bay Coffee by the line of customers that spills into the hallway. The bright, industrial space is softened with large plants and comfortable chairs you can sink into while you wait for your drink — and if you’re looking for something beyond a cup of coffee, try the Saigon Latte made with sweetened condensed milk. There’s even a dairy-free option made with coconut cream.
Camarones at El Porteño
The Argentinian-style empanadas at El Porteño make a strong case as the Ferry Building’s most luxurious hand-held snack, with their abundant fillings and uber-buttery crust. If it’s your first time, you can’t go wrong with the classic Carne, which is filled with juicy, savory ground beef, onions, olives, plump raisins, and chopped hard-boiled egg. But for something more unique, try the Camarones, a riff on a Chilean recipe for machas à la parmesan that bursts with fresh shrimp, melted cheese, and green onions.
Cheeseburger from Gott’s Roadside
You can also get a taste of wine country’s finest burger at Gott’s Roadside’s Ferry Building location. Known for showcasing local ingredients — think, Niman Ranch beef and Cowgirl Creamery cheese — Gott’s really does have something for just about everyone on the menu. Fans love the ahi burger that features sushi-grade tuna and ginger wasabi mayo, but you can’t go wrong with the classic cheeseburger, a two-hands-required proposition that features American cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and a secret sauce.
Bento at Delica
This brisk Japanese takeout spot is a treasure trove for the grab-and-go lunch connoisseur, with its sandwiches, beef curry bowls, and decent-enough sushi. If you’re feeling indecisive, you can’t beat the affordable 4-item bento box, which lets you pick and choose from the array of salads and deli items. Favorites include the spicy burdock root salad, wasabi garlic potato salad, and, from the deli selections, tonkatsu, a fried pork cutlet drizzled in housemade sauce.
Baja fish taco at Cholita Linda
Cholita Linda got its start at a farmers market in the East Bay but these days you can get your fix of the restaurant’s Latin specialties in the back of the Ferry Building. The menu reflects the mixed Mexican, Peruvian and Cuban heritage of owners Vanessa Chavez and Murat Sozeri, which means you can order a pressed Cubano, a platter of picadillo, or some of the Bay Area’s finest Baja-style fish tacos. The fried fish tacos come on tender corn tortillas with a vibrant salsa roja and crunchy cabbage slaw.
Apple turnover at Acme Bread
Acme Bread is, of course, the old stalwart of the Bay Area bread-baking revolution, and the bakery’s levain loaves and sour baguettes remain a staple at countless pedigreed restaurants across the Bay. But don’t sleep on Acme’s pastry program, most notably its behemoth of an apple turnover, which, with a cup of coffee, makes for one of the most satisfying breakfasts — or sweet mid-day snacks — around. Be careful, though, if you’re bringing it into a business meeting: The puff pastry is so buttery and flaky, you’ll have a hard time keeping your shirtsleeves clean.
Secret Breakfast sundae from Humphry Slocombe
A local ice creamery with a name that lets you know they’re not just vanilla, Humphry Slocombe stands out with flavors like the Secret Breakfast, a clever bourbon and cornflake concoction. This popular Ferry Building outpost does it one better, making it a sundae with bourbon caramel and cornflakes on top.
Jambon-beurre de truffe sandwich at Fatted Calf
For more than a decade, Fatted Calf was a meaty destination in Hayes Valley but the butcher shop made the move to the Ferry Building in late 2022. You can still stop by for a slice of salami, a slab of bacon, or pasture-raised heritage pork to cook and enjoy at home. But a small menu of sandwiches, salads, and bowls is also available for a quick lunch. For an effortlessly decadent meal, go for the jambon-beurre de truffe, a simple French-style sandwich starring nothing more than slices of house-smoked ham and fragrant black truffle butter on a sour baguette.
Canelés de Bordeaux from Boulettes Larder
Chef Amaryll Schwertner has been quietly putting out beautifully burnished canelés de Bordeaux for more than a decade, made in traditional copper molds with hot beeswax. Seek them out at the restaurant, which serves breakfast and lunch, or snag one at the kiosk outside before they sell out for the day.