The walls at Currylicious exude the same orange and yellow hues as saffron and turmeric, which flavor its traditional Indian dishes. Appetizers include hearty veggie samosas and the kachumar salad, an intermingling of fresh garden veggies, herbs, and lime juice. Entrees such as chicken shahi korma and lamb karahi cool down spice with infusions of yogurt sauce and side helpings of naan. During pleasant weather, diners can sit outside, where they take in Oakland’s scenic landscape, or season their meals with crushed sunshine.
The stout, mottled brick front and black and white striped awning of BFC Cajun Seafood's storefront conceal the carefully crafted and spicy Cajun fare waiting inside. Bone-in catfish fillets come on sandwiches or as part of fried-fish plates sporting rich batter with an extra crunch that frequently alarms local seismologists. Beneath the glittering shell of a glass counter, an array of fresh-baked homemade pies and cakes divest themselves of single slices or travel whole to patrons' homes packaged in carry-out orders.
At Sinbad’s Pier 2 Restaurant, guests can look out over the bay as they savor blackened swordfish and startlingly fresh seafood. Clean ocean breezes tickle through the windows as guests spoon up sips of clam chowder and load forks with pasta, shrimp, scallops, and mussels. Customized dishes of salmon-stuffed pastry shells and crab cake eggs benedict start hitting tables as early as 10 a.m. for breakfast-craving diners. An extensive wine list brings out the delicate flavors of the fish and seafood, as well as any napkins that fall into your mouth by accident.
With the right dishes, a tiny boardwalk fish stall can grow into a prestigious seafood restaurant. Just ask the Alioto family. In 1925, Sicilian immigrant Nunzio Alioto, Sr., took the reins of stall No. 8 on Fisherman's Wharf, feeding Italian laborers with hearty seafood cocktails served out of paper cups. Eight years later, when Nunzio passed away, his wife, Rose, took over, steadily expanding the operation to keep pace with Alioto's growing reputation, not to mention the influx of customers brought by the construction of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges.
Today, the family still serves the traditional Sicilian recipes of Nunzio and Rose—but on the top floor of a three-story building, overlooking the spot where the modest fish stall began. The chefs work largely with fresh, local catches for the seafood-centric menu, preparing hauls of sea bass, swordfish, scallops, and of course, dungeness crab—a standout favorite among the critics that have sung Alioto's praises in the press. Though many cite the crab cioppino—a spicy tomato and shellfish stew—as their preferred dish, Frommer's lauds the dungeness crab, whether it's "cracked, caked, stuffed, or stewed." Sicilian classics such as the fried calamari are also a huge draw, not to mention the restaurant's third story ocean vistas, a vantage point City Genius hails as "one of the best views of the Bay."
In 1915, Thomaso Castagnola created his first crab cocktail for the San Francisco World's Fair. The following year, he opened a crab stand on Fisherman's Wharf. As it grew in popularity, his small stand blossomed into Castagnola’s restaurant. Nearly 100 years later, the two-story semiformal eatery still welcomes customers to try its fresh seafood, as well as its steaks and chops, inside an amber-lit dining room where tall windows overlook the busy harbor.
Servers bear Italian seafood and chicken pastas, steamed crabs, crab cakes, shellfish stew, and 20-ounce steaks to tables with views of fishing boats and krakens on the bay, the historic F Line trolley, and the downtown skyline. They also pour more than 120 wines, gathered from California and around the world, that complement each dish.
With just one counter, six stools, five tables, and a performing crab, Frank and Marian Pompei opened Pompei's Grotto on Fisherman's Wharf in the winter of 1946. Natives of the seaport community of San Benedetto d'Ancona, in Italy, the Pompei's served a modest menu of sandwiches, spaghetti, cracked crab, and seafood cocktails. Similar items are still served today, but under Frank's daughter, Nancy, the menu has expanded to include even more seafood and Italian favorites.
Fried shrimp, scallops, and white cod comprise the Captain's Platter, and from-scratch meat sauce made with local ingredients flavors the lasagna's layers of pasta and cheese. A popular pairing at Pompei's, seafood and Italian flavors join forces in dishes such as linguini and whole clams in a garlic, butter, and white wine sauce, as well as shrimp scampi made with jumbo shrimp sauteed in white wine, butter, mushrooms, and scallions, with linguini and fresh vegetables. And like the evolving menu, Pompei's storefront has also grown since 1946, and now includes an outdoor patio where Fisherman's Wharf's salty air mingles with the aroma of the kitchen's cooked catches.