1090 Point Lobos Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94121
The Cliff House has been a San Francisco institution since 1863, and true to its name, sits atop the cliffs of San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Boasting unobstructed views of the Pacific Ocean and original neoclassical architecture, the atmosphere is both elegant and historic -- The Cliff House has maintained an impressive degree of authenticity throughout its long existence as it has undergone multiple renovations.
The structure is separated into three unique dining areas, each with a distinct atmosphere and dining experience. For a casual meal or brunch, many visitors choose the Bistro Restaurant. The Bistro’s diner-style countertop is paired with an eye-catching ocean view to offer a timeless, comfortable feel; and due to its popularity, this spot is always bustling. We recommend beginning breakfast or brunch with the piping hot Popovers with butter and jam. The omelets and scrambles are made with a wide variety of ingredients, and one popular pick is the Johnson’s Omelet with Dungeness crab and avocado. Dinner favorites include the Cliff House Cioppino, the Frutti de Mare, and the Famous Cliff House Clam Chowder. These dishes are all incredibly savory and are loaded with fresh seafood.
For upscale dining with a more modern feel, many look to Sutro’s. The restaurant’s high ceiling and steel beams, paired with the floor-to-ceiling glass windows, complement the ocean’s dynamic presence. Furthermore, stunning views of the Seal Rocks and the remains of the Sutro Bathhouse compound the dramatic effect.
Sutro’s seasonal menu focuses on organic ingredients and fresh seafood like the Pacific Oysters on the Half Shell and Duo of Corn Soup. Popular recommendations include the Maple Leaf Duck and the Whole-Roasted Local Petrale Sole. After savoring such a delightful meal, one may wish to polish the evening off with a dessert like the Frozen Lemon Soufflé – it’s light, tangy and refreshing.
The Sunday Champagne Brunch Buffet is a completely separate affair from the Bistro and Sutro’s, and is served in the Cliff House Banquet Room. Decorated in warm tones of creams and browns, the room has a decidedly more traditional feel than Sutro’s and the Bistro. The buffet is generous and includes scrambled eggs, a selection of tortes and pastries, smoked salmon and bagels, all you can drink champagne, and chocolate-dipped strawberries. This decadent and highly popular spread is available every Sunday -- the most popular Sundays being Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. With its incredible history, stunning ocean views, and varied dining options, the Cliff House is treasured by tourists and locals alike.
McCormick and Kuleto’s Seafood Restaurant
900 N Point St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Located at the front of Ghirardelli Square, McCormick and Kuleto’s is situated in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf and offers sweeping views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and the waterfront. With multiple rooms and levels that provide varying perspectives of the stunning vistas, McCormick and Kuleto’s presents an ever-changing spectrum of ambiance. The restaurant is decorated with a distinctly nautical theme, appropriate for its proximity to the water. With redwood beams and teak flooring used for trim, the space is spacious yet inviting; and with the expansive windows, every table is guaranteed a fabulous view.
Appropriate to its water surroundings, McCormick & Kuleto’s culinary focus is on highlighting both contemporary and traditional seafood specialties. A popular go-to dish is the Oysters on the Half Shell, which is often followed by a selection of seafood from the aptly named Fresh List that changes seasonally and offers up to thirty choices daily. Dungeness crab, when in season, is also a popular choice. McCormick and Kuleto’s private rooms are popular venues for private parties and events, and can accommodate both small and large groups. The weekday happy hour at the Crab Cake Lounge is becoming an increasingly well-known occasion among locals, and is often crammed with the after-five crowd. With the wide variety in seafood combined with the unbeatable location and top notch views, McCormick and Kuleto’s offers their guests a comfortable and scenic dining experience.
399 The Embarcadero South, San Francisco, CA 94105
Opened in 2008, Waterbar boasts one of the best views of the Bay Bridge; and while this landmark is decidedly less famous than the Golden Gate Bridge, it still looks spectacular at night. Waterbar is a restaurant that serves fresh local and sustainable seafood. It also features one of the most appealing raw specials in the area: Oysters on the Half Shell cost only one dollar during happy hour. First time visitors may enjoy trying the seasonally based three course prix fixe menu or any of the whole fish selections. Other recommendations include the Scallop Ceviche (whose unique interpretation includes smoked salt and paprika oil) and the Pan Roasted Petrale Sole from Half Moon Bay.
A hand-blown glass globed chandelier hangs over the center of the bar area, and draws the eyes up towards the unobstructed view of the bridge that looms behind. Waterbar also has a second floor devoted to private dining, which includes an outdoor terrace and the same waterfront view of the Bay Bridge. Even with its dramatic views, the brick walls and ceilings give Waterbar an intimate, brasserie feel. With beautifully crafted nineteen-foot aquariums and an impressive raw bar, the interior of this restaurant is as spectacular as its outdoor view.
Top of the Mark
1 Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108
Located at the highest point of downtown San Francisco on the 19th floor of the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel, Top of the Mark has been romancing diners for almost seventy years with its elegant décor and nearly unobstructed views of the San Francisco Bay and downtown. Top of the Mark’s celebrated history dates back to WWII as a gathering place for soldiers toasting to the Golden Gate Bridge and a safe return.
With its intimate atmosphere and breathtaking views, it’s not uncommon to witness couples celebrating a romantic evening out or even a marriage proposal. Although Top of the Mark is famous as a hotel bar, its weekend three-course prix fixe Sunset Dinner and Champagne Sunday Brunch are incredibly popular. Popular dishes include the Seared Ahi Tuna with a sesame-pink peppercorn crust, the Moroccan Spiced Lamb Kebab, and the Salmon Confit.
Complete with daily live jazz, the atmosphere at Top of the Mark is sophisticated and very “Old San Francisco.” Not surprisingly, this restaurant is popular with mature crowds, although plenty of young people also appreciate the spectacular views. Those guests only stopping by for a drink have 100 martinis to choose from, but one can never go wrong with the signature Top of the Mark Martini. Pair this drink with a dish like the California Cheese Plate and gaze down below at San Francisco, and you have a truly unforgettable experience.
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