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Where to Eat and Drink in Fisherman’s Wharf for Non-Tourists

Here are the gems worth visiting on the water

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Tourists flock to it in throngs, for good reason. And while locals may harbor mixed feelings towards the neighborhood, Fisherman’s Wharf contains plenty of hidden gems worth visiting, whether you live in the Bay Area or are traveling to it. From dim sum to fish ‘n’ chips and caviar to surf and turf, here is how to eat and drink well in San Francisco’s biggest tourist trap.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Palette Tea House & Dim Sum

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Yes, there’s excellent dim sum to be had in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, right in the heart of Ghirardelli Square, from the team behind Koi Palace and Dragon Beaux. Tourists or not, the Instagram-savvy crowd is almost certain to order a steamer of the multi-colored xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and, why not, the fried taro puffs crafted to resemble black swans. But you can also rely on Palette’s pedigreed dim sum chefs to put out solid versions of all the classics, from har gow and barbecue pork buns to pan-fried radish cakes.

Buena Vista Cafe

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The Buena Vista has that old-time charm that only comes with century-old bars. (It has existed in San Francisco since 1916.) Here, the famous Irish Coffee has been a thing since it was first concocted in 1952. Allegedly, they’ve served the exact same recipe of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and aged cream ever since. Obviously it is delicious if it’s lasted this long.

Gary Danko

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This longtime fine-dining institution near Ghirardelli Square continues to offer four-course tasting menus to-go, which include the restaurant’s famed risottos as well as decadent desserts. When it reopens for dine-in, head to the bar and order a la carte from the menu: the cheese cart, trio of creme brulee, and souffle are all best in class. Level up with caviar service, which is decadent and traditional.

Chocolate souffle
Gary Danko

Cafe de Casa

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Cafe de Casa is a sweet little Brazilian-owned cafe tucked over by the Holiday Inn. Come for all manner of Brazilian street food: acai made with guardana, classic pastries like enroladinho (coconut bread filled with cheese), and coxinha (breaded dough filled with shredded chicken and cream cheese). Other highlights: pour-over coffee and seriously spicy housemade hot sauce.

In-N-Out Burger

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Enjoying the distinction of being the only In-N-Out within San Francisco city limits often makes this location the sole reason for locals to go to the Wharf. It’s a constantly bustling environment, filled with hungry tourists from all over the world, and locals from all walks of life. Check out a typical afternoon at California’s favorite burger chain, and head down for a double double.

Scoma's Restaurant

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Literally sitting on the dock of the bay, Scoma’s is a San Francisco gem. It’s been around since 1965. They have their own fishing boat for salmon and crabs. And they’ve upgraded their cocktail program and menu quite a bit. If you’ve got to have a sit-down fancy-ish dinner somewhere on Fisherman’s Wharf, this is the place. (Check out the making of their “lazy man’s cioppino” here.)

Surisan

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San Francisco’s Korean food scene has only recently started to improve, but if you are craving pajun, jook, or bibimbap, this spot has solid California-fied versions of all of the above. Owners Steven and Jiyeon Choi — who also own Kitchen Story, Sweet Maple, and a few other Bay Area neighborhood staples — have created a very decent American-style brunch (including popovers, sweet-spicy “Millionaire’s” bacon, and super-thick blueberry-stuffed French toast), with several Korean-inspired offerings in the mix.

Tanguito

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Tanguito is about the last thing you’d expect to find in San Francisco’s most notorious tourist trap: an Argentinian food truck (slash empanada counter) that serves some of the area’s tastiest and most reasonably priced food. It’s best known for its flaky, Argentinian-style baked empanadas and its massive, chimichurri-topped burger (low-key one of the better burgers in the city), but you can also grab a seat in the little covered dining area and enjoy a heartier sit-down dinner — say, a grilled steak over saffron rice.

The Codmother

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England-born Suzanne Acevedo knows her way around a fryer. She founded this humble trailer in 2011 because she missed the fish ‘n’ chips from her homeland. Now she’s serving some of the best food on the Wharf, and some of the best fish tacos in San Francisco.

Krispy Krunchy Chicken

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One of the few stand-alone Krispy Krunchy locations that isn’t embedded inside a gas station convenience store, this Southern-style fried chicken chain has been a welcome addition to the Wharf. Well-seasoned, unfailingly crunchy skin — hence the name — and sweet honey biscuits are the hallmarks here.

Fog Harbor Fish House

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Fog Harbor is a tourist trap to be sure, but with its prime spot on Pier 39, large outdoor dining space boasting views of the bay and bridge, and over-the-top seafood feasts, it offers a fun time for everyone. Tie on a bib for sourdough bread bowls brimming with clam chowder and piled with lump Dungeness crab meat, its specialty, and go big with lobster tails, a whole Dungeness crab, or surf and turf.

Palette Tea House & Dim Sum

Yes, there’s excellent dim sum to be had in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, right in the heart of Ghirardelli Square, from the team behind Koi Palace and Dragon Beaux. Tourists or not, the Instagram-savvy crowd is almost certain to order a steamer of the multi-colored xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and, why not, the fried taro puffs crafted to resemble black swans. But you can also rely on Palette’s pedigreed dim sum chefs to put out solid versions of all the classics, from har gow and barbecue pork buns to pan-fried radish cakes.

Buena Vista Cafe

The Buena Vista has that old-time charm that only comes with century-old bars. (It has existed in San Francisco since 1916.) Here, the famous Irish Coffee has been a thing since it was first concocted in 1952. Allegedly, they’ve served the exact same recipe of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and aged cream ever since. Obviously it is delicious if it’s lasted this long.

Gary Danko

Chocolate souffle
Gary Danko

This longtime fine-dining institution near Ghirardelli Square continues to offer four-course tasting menus to-go, which include the restaurant’s famed risottos as well as decadent desserts. When it reopens for dine-in, head to the bar and order a la carte from the menu: the cheese cart, trio of creme brulee, and souffle are all best in class. Level up with caviar service, which is decadent and traditional.

Chocolate souffle
Gary Danko

Cafe de Casa

Cafe de Casa is a sweet little Brazilian-owned cafe tucked over by the Holiday Inn. Come for all manner of Brazilian street food: acai made with guardana, classic pastries like enroladinho (coconut bread filled with cheese), and coxinha (breaded dough filled with shredded chicken and cream cheese). Other highlights: pour-over coffee and seriously spicy housemade hot sauce.

In-N-Out Burger

Enjoying the distinction of being the only In-N-Out within San Francisco city limits often makes this location the sole reason for locals to go to the Wharf. It’s a constantly bustling environment, filled with hungry tourists from all over the world, and locals from all walks of life. Check out a typical afternoon at California’s favorite burger chain, and head down for a double double.

Scoma's Restaurant

Literally sitting on the dock of the bay, Scoma’s is a San Francisco gem. It’s been around since 1965. They have their own fishing boat for salmon and crabs. And they’ve upgraded their cocktail program and menu quite a bit. If you’ve got to have a sit-down fancy-ish dinner somewhere on Fisherman’s Wharf, this is the place. (Check out the making of their “lazy man’s cioppino” here.)

Surisan

San Francisco’s Korean food scene has only recently started to improve, but if you are craving pajun, jook, or bibimbap, this spot has solid California-fied versions of all of the above. Owners Steven and Jiyeon Choi — who also own Kitchen Story, Sweet Maple, and a few other Bay Area neighborhood staples — have created a very decent American-style brunch (including popovers, sweet-spicy “Millionaire’s” bacon, and super-thick blueberry-stuffed French toast), with several Korean-inspired offerings in the mix.

Tanguito

Tanguito is about the last thing you’d expect to find in San Francisco’s most notorious tourist trap: an Argentinian food truck (slash empanada counter) that serves some of the area’s tastiest and most reasonably priced food. It’s best known for its flaky, Argentinian-style baked empanadas and its massive, chimichurri-topped burger (low-key one of the better burgers in the city), but you can also grab a seat in the little covered dining area and enjoy a heartier sit-down dinner — say, a grilled steak over saffron rice.

The Codmother

England-born Suzanne Acevedo knows her way around a fryer. She founded this humble trailer in 2011 because she missed the fish ‘n’ chips from her homeland. Now she’s serving some of the best food on the Wharf, and some of the best fish tacos in San Francisco.

Krispy Krunchy Chicken

One of the few stand-alone Krispy Krunchy locations that isn’t embedded inside a gas station convenience store, this Southern-style fried chicken chain has been a welcome addition to the Wharf. Well-seasoned, unfailingly crunchy skin — hence the name — and sweet honey biscuits are the hallmarks here.

Fog Harbor Fish House

Fog Harbor is a tourist trap to be sure, but with its prime spot on Pier 39, large outdoor dining space boasting views of the bay and bridge, and over-the-top seafood feasts, it offers a fun time for everyone. Tie on a bib for sourdough bread bowls brimming with clam chowder and piled with lump Dungeness crab meat, its specialty, and go big with lobster tails, a whole Dungeness crab, or surf and turf.

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