The massive plate windows of The Caprice's main dining room afford panoramic views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, and the rolling hills of San Francisco's East Bay. According to Gayot, these windows have overlooked the same bayside view for more than 55 years. As sailboats effortlessly glide across water within full view of the tables, diners can enjoy a classically inspired menu of New American cuisine that draws almost as much inspiration from French culinary techniques as it does from the nearby ocean waters. The Zagat-rated eatery's menu brims with a variety of seafood dishes. Appetizers of oysters on the half shell with cranberry mignonette appear alongside entrees of halibut with a sundried tomato-almond butter sauce, quinoa, and wilted spinach. At the same time, the chefs' French inclinations shine through in dishes such as the duck breast a l'orange and the rack of lamb with mint-tinged balsamic sauce. Although the international wine list helps guests complete their meal with well paired bottle, Fodor's says that "polishing off the warm chocolate cake with almond ice cream while gazing out at the sunset and porpoises bobbing in the waves below is a near perfect end to the evening."
History: Legend has it that when the eatery originally opened, as The Oakdale Bar and Clam House, the structure stood completely on the water—until the earthquake in 1906 filled the Bay. Since then, the restaurant’s gone through many changes, yet still stands on the same ground, making it SF’s oldest restaurant still operating in its original location. When the current owners took over, they renovated the interior, yet kept the menu’s most-loved dishes, such as the cioppino and the cup of hot clam broth that greets each diner upon arrival.
While You’re Waiting
Inside Tip: Try the clam chowder; it’s made with a recipe from The Oakdale Bar and Clam, dating back to the late 1800s.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Find some new place settings at the Heritage House Tableware show room (2190 Palou Avenue), where more than 1,900 patterns are on display.
After: See what’s in season at the Bayshore Farmers Market (300 Bayshore Boulevard).
What to Drink: Pick a bottle from a wine list with more than 100 vintages from Italy, California, Argentina, and Chile.
Where to Sit: Grab a booth facing the front wall of windows in the cozy, canary-yellow dining room.
While You’re Waiting
While You’re in the Neighborhood: After dinner, head across the street for a game of pool and a discussion on the merits of Epicureanism at the Philosophers Club (824 Ulloa Street).
Located firmly within San Francisco's Castro district, 2362 Market Street is steeped in city history. Here, Catch makes its mark in a storefront registered as an official city landmark that originally housed the burgeoning NAMES Project, which famously organized the creation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt. The history remains with the building, but Catch aims to create a new legacy while honoring the spirit of creativity and expression rooted in its surroundings.
To foster this spirit, the chefs rotate their menus regularly, accommodating seasonal produce and fresh catches of local, sustainably sourced seafood. Each dish showcases these ingredients while incorporating Mediterranean influences and minimalist Californian sensibilities toward composition and presentation. A hearty bowl of mussels, clams, shrimp, scallops, crab, and fresh fish in a tomato broth evokes the flavors of portuguese stew, and the pizzas emerge with inspired toppings, such as smoked salmon and cr?me fra?che.
The air of refined simplicity also extends to the dining room's decor. Cherry-wood tables line the tiled floors and surround the small, circular fireplace that helps heat the enclosed patio section. Two works of vibrantly colored wall art originals add a taste of whimsy to the space, as does the balcony-like stage that sits suspended 10 feet above the ground, dominating an entire corner of the room. A full piano resides on the stage, beckoning the live jazz bands that perform on Fridays and Saturdays for diners and brave souls who would like to make their seafood meals feel at home by playing sea shanties of yore.
When star chef Mario Batali tasted Cioppino's Restaurant & Bar's signature dish—cioppino, an italian seafood stew with tomatoes and fennel—he liked it so much that he said, “I could eat that every day.” The richness of the cioppino sets the tone for the rest of the menu, which teems with hearty Italian staples such as rigatoni pomodoro, shrimp capellini, and margherita pizzas.
Diners devour these dishes inside the mural-bedecked dining room at tables draped in red-gingham tablecloths. They can also head out to the patio, which the Fisherman’s Wharf restaurant keeps open 365 days per year, come rain or kraken attack.
Blu Restaurant's floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the bustle on Market Street from the fourth floor of The Sports Club/LA. Servers set entree plates such as grilled salmon and house-made wild fennel pappardelle atop white linen tablecloths, and mixologists behind the sleek ebony bar fill glasses and crystal Super Soakers with libations from an extensive wine list. Blu Restaurant's multiple dining rooms and bar play host to private events, such as corporate functions and bridal showers.