Most San Francisco restaurants would kill for the success of Fog City Diner (now just Fog City). With its ideal location on the revitalized Embarcadero, it's perfectly situated between tourists who travel to Pier 39 to hear the sea lions bark and downtown businesspeople who listen for the chime of their cell phones.
The highlights of its twenty-five-year run include being showcased in a classic VISA commercial and made locally famous in the San Francisco-based comic strip Farley. In a city where restaurants fail almost every other day, why mess with this kind of success?
New exterior to Fog City — Photo courtesy of Fog City
But the major revitalization of the entire Embarcadero area may have made the option of "playing it safe" outdated. Owners Bill Higgins and Bill Upson spared no expense with the new menu and new redesign, bringing in renowned Chef Bruce Hill (Zero Zero, Picco, Pizzeria Picco and Bix restaurants) and designer Michael Guthrie.
The design takes into account not just the twenty-five years that Fog City Diner has occupied this auspicious corner, but also the extended history of the immediate area, which included sailors shipping out to WWII, railroad builders and engineers working on San Francisco's first railway and the landing point for ships during the Gold Rush. What they've come up with is sleek yet grounded, a nod to both the past and the future.
Fog City's friendly and experienced staff are just waiting to serve you! — Photo courtesy of Fog City
As with any restaurant, what counts is on your plate, of course. Renamed simply "Fog City," the restaurant opened with much fanfare to excited locals and tourists alike who wanted to see for themselves if the food could match the promises of the fancy design and big-name chefs. So far . . . so very, very good.
The restaurant opened with an eye towards sweets, with Pastry Chef Toensing promising San Francisco's "first ever frozen custard program." The menu emphasizes wood-fired meats, and although the custards and French crullers are excellent, the must-order item has become the baked chicken, for its savory simplicity.
Fog City's wood-fired ovens are all fired up — Photo courtesy of Fog City
If you're not in the mood for dinner or dessert, Fog City is a great choice for a drink after (or before) a long walk beside San Francisco Bay on the charming Embarcadero. Not only are locally made beer and wines featured, but you'll also have a choice of local spirits for that highball, too. In other words, any drink you order will have a shot of San Francisco in it for you.
Whatever your mood or need, stop by Fog City for a clear idea not just of where San Francisco has been, but of where this exciting California city is going.