Best Restaurants with Views in San Francisco

Ten Unforgettable Views of San Francisco (with a Side of Restaurant)

If you believe the perfect meal can make an entire trip, we'd suggest that an unforgettable view can make that perfect meal. From the Italian expertise of North Beach to the cultural adventures of Chinatown to the comfort food of the Mission, San Francisco has no end of restaurant choices.

What really makes these restaurant experiences distinct and memorable is the atmosphere, and what can really make that atmosphere is an mesmerizing, signature view. These restaurants have gone to great lengths and expenses to showcase the gorgeous topography of San Francisco.

So whether you're taking in the crashing waves of the Pacific at the Beach Chalet, or having a more tranquil, romantic evening by the calm waters of the bay at Greens, or feeling cosmopolitan and chic while drinking martinis and soaking up the city lights at The View, these restaurants will leave an indelible impression for you to carry back home.


Photo courtesy of used in book.

What began in 1965 as a small coffee shop has evolved into an oft-frequented, family-run restaurant. It's also the only place amid Fisherman's Wharf's touristy eateries that locals recommend for quality of food and generous portions. Celebrity photos grant silent, smiling endorsement, and broad windows showcase wharf and Bay vistas. The lengthy menu tempts with Italian-accented seafood, including pastas, grilled fish, shellfish saut--s and a fabulous cioppino alla pescatore with Dungeness crab.There's also a Scoma's in Sausalito, just a quick ferry ride across the bay, which is on a dock overlooking the water and offers spectacular views of San Francisco.

Recommended for Restaurants with Views because: This family restaurant has been around since the mid60's and is incredibly consistent with the quality of its seafood.

Tom's expert tip: You've got to try the cioppino, which was created in San Francisco.

Read more about Scoma's →

Located on the 39th floor of a downtown hotel, "The View" earns its namesake. Although this is not a full service restaurant, we had to put this on the list because it has such a magnificent view of downtown. And the barbites menu shouldn't be dismissed - the "View Trio" plate of hummus, babghanoush, tomato olive relish and grilled pita bread is a meal for one or a fun platter to share. If you need a sweet fix, the Marquis Chocolate cake with rich buttercream feels like meal to itself. Once you've soaked in the view and had a nice appetizer, all of downtown is at your feet for a full dinner.

Recommended for Restaurants with Views because: If you want a view of the city, as opposed to a view of the bay or the ocean, this is a great spot.

Tom's expert tip: Small menu, but they make up for that with some sterling cocktails, including "The Elevation," which features St. Germain Elderflower, Mionetto Prosecco, and lemon zest.

Read more about The View Lounge →

Waterfront Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

For more than a generation, Waterfront has tempted diners with a host of fresh seafood offerings. These days, with renewed interest in the Embarcadero, the upscale restaurant enjoys an added dose of attention. Its amazing views of the Bay, and the Bay Bridge in particular, are sublime whether you dine inside or out. The menu is also an enticing prospect, populated by dishes like wood oven-roasted Dungeness crab, bouillabaisse, linguine with clams and grilled fish. A robust wine list includes selections by the bottle or the glass. The brand new Exploratorium is a quick walk away, which has 1.5 acres of free public space that offers more spectacular views.

Recommended for Restaurants with Views because: Waterfront is enjoying a renaissance because its right in the middle of the Embaracedro building boom.

Tom's expert tip: Anchor Steam, San Francisco's signature beer, is on tap here for $3 during their M-F, 3-6 pm Happy Hour. That's hard to beat.

Read more about Waterfront Restaurant →


Established in 1925, Alioto's has been a reliable sea food restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf for years. Simply put, these people know how to prepare great sea food. And they've been consistently doing just that ever since their restaurant was just a fish stall and Fisherman's Wharf was lumber yards, train tracks and wholesale fisheries. Besides the amazing view of the water and an enduring presence on Fisherman's Wharf, what also makes Alioto's unique is its Sicilian-style menu items, which are identified by the three-legged triangle on the menu. (This "trinacria" symbol represents the three corners of the island of Sicily.) Besides these Sicilian specials, Alioto's also prepares traditional seafood specialties of the Wharf, such as fried calamari, crab and seafood salads.

Recommended for Restaurants with Views because: Family-run, very friendly and attentive service, and with wonderful bay views, Alioto's is a Bay Area legend.

Tom's expert tip: For those who like a little spice in their seafood, try the Sicilian-style calamari.

Read more about Alioto's →

Slanted Door
Photo courtesy of Charles Haynes

High ceilings and awesome Bay views establish a unique atmosphere at this well-received waterfront venue. Style and spectacle are grounded, though, by Slanted Door's authentic country Vietnamese dishes, which get a California kick from local ingredients. Taste the results in the catfish claypot, crispy peppercorn duck, shaking beef, spicy squid and mesquite-grilled pork chops. Spring rolls also come highly recommended, and great cocktails and scrumptious desserts are worth indulging in. And don't forget to keep an eye out for celebrities! If you're there for lunch, take a well-deserved stroll through the Ferry Building for one-of-a-kind San Francisco souvenirs. If you're there for dinner, stroll outside on the Embarcadero and enjoy the Bay Lights art project on the Bay Bridge.

Recommended for Restaurants with Views because: Everyone in San Francisco respects Slanted Door. It's a true can't miss.

Tom's expert tip: If you happen to be coming back an afternoon by ferry from Sausalito, a glass of wine and dinner at Slanted Door is a fantastic way to wrap up your day.

Read more about Slanted Door →

Photo courtesy of Waterbar

Waterbar knows it's a beautiful restaurant in a beautiful city - and makes the most of it. Designer Pat Kuleto spared no expense to ensure diners will walk away with a complete ocean experience, including floor to ceiling aquariums full of Pacific Marine life. Some of what's swimming in the tanks might look tasty, too - including the calamari, "dip net" caught in nearby San Pedro, and the long tank full of Dungeness crab, when in season. For those who want to have one, big, special meal in San Francisco to really remember, be lavish and spend a long evening by the water at this sumptuous restaurant. With this food and these views, it's a decision that's very hard to regret.

Recommended for Restaurants with Views because: It's getting harder to procure local, fresh oysters, so Hog Island is worth noting.

Tom's expert tip: Waterbar is deservedly proud of its extensive wine, beer and cocktail list, a 35 page .pdf that serious patrons can peruse before their reservation.

Read more about Waterbar →

Marina District
Greens Restaurant
Photo courtesy of used in book.

Greens, one of the city's finest vegetarian establishments, is owned and operated by the San Francisco Zen Center, which helps supply it with organic produce. Inside the voluminous space, diners are afforded spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay. Chef Annie Somerville, the creative force behind the menu, has an artistic touch, as proven by Asian-inspired curries, fresh pizzas and luscious pastas. Soups, sandwiches and salads also delight taste buds, as does a tempting wine list. The view is a calm and tranquil shot of the bay, at least on days when the fog hasn't rolled in.

Recommended for Restaurants with Views because: If you're a vegetarian, you have to stop at Greens, where they practically invented the idea of eating vegetables.

Tom's expert tip: Always grab whatever "seasonal" sampler they offer on the menu to get a broad choice of their best offerings.

Read more about Greens Restaurant →

Fog Harbor Fish House
Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy

If you only have time for one seafood restaurant in San Francisco, and you really want a taste of old school San Francisco-style cuisine on Pier 39, try Fog Harbor Fish House. Created by the same family that developed the family-friendly playland of Pier 39, Fog Harbor might be old school, but they were also the first restaurant on Pier 39 to offer sustainable seafood. Featuring complimentary sourdough bread baked on site every hour, you can even catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge from their expansive view. Great for family and large groups, especially after a day of exploring Pier 39.

Recommended for Restaurants with Views because: If you want a view of San Francisco Bay, Fog Harbor Fish House at Fisherman's Wharf is a top spot.

Tom's expert tip: Don't pass up their award-winning clam chowder, a big bowl of yum that will warm the bones against any San Francisco fog!

Read more about Fog Harbor Fish House →

The Beach Chalet sits right on Ocean Beach, so it's a great spot to watch the sun set. Quality comfort food with a California twist, inventive but not too radical, definitely offers something for everyone. Start off with the crispy calamari, crunchy and tangy, and pair that with the filet mignon for a surf and turf meal. The Chalet burger is a favoritee, too, as is their BBQ pulled pork sandwich with Jordo's Carolina BBQ sauce. The house wine list is extensive, but the signature drink here is their brewery, from Riptide Red to Fogtown Brown - or try the sampler to get a taste of them all.

Recommended for Restaurants with Views because: If sitting on a steep cliff right over the ocean at the nearby Cliff House is too much, this is a good second option.

Tom's expert tip: The Park Chalet, just behind the Beach Chalet and on the boundaries of Golden Gate Park, brews its own beer and offers live music.

Read more about Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant →

Red's Java House
Photo courtesy of Red's Java House

Who says you have to pay an arm and a leg for a fantastic view of San Francisco Bay? Red's Java House has been serving up a stunning view of the Bay - as well as comfort food like burgers and hot dogs - since it sold breakfast specials of cheeseburgers and beers to longshoremen in the 1930's. If you need fancy, don't head to Red's. But if you need good service and a fillinf meal with the same water view as the more expensive restuarants lined up on the Embarcadero, head to Red's today.

Recommended for Restaurants with Views because: Red's Java House offers reasonably priced comfort food with lovely views of San Francisco Bay.

Tom's expert tip: Try their breakfast specials like the Two Egg Breakfast Plate for only $10.51.

Read more about Red's Java House →


Meet Tom Molanphy

The only thing that Tom Molanphy loves more than the food, art, music, and culture of San Francisco is sharing it with others. San Francisco never gets old for Tom.

Tom has lived in the San...  More About Tom