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Fisherman's Wharf

Jason Perlow

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Every couple of visits to San Francisco I like to go down to the Wharf and engage in a bit of crustaceo-mass-consumption. While many native Bay Area residents will poo poo Pier 8 as a tourist trap -- and rightly so -- there are still some gems to be found. I will also argue that no where else in San Francisco will you find as good a value if you are looking to indulge in locally caught Cancer magister, particulary if you forgo the restaurants themselves and stick with the seafood stands and get intimate with the vendors.

But getting to the wharf, particularly on a busy Sunday, driving in from across the Bay, can be an adventure. Patience however, is rewarded.


Here I am in bumper to bumper traffic on I-580 leading up to the Bay Bridge.


After sitting in traffic for about an hour or so, you'll come alongside the Embarcadero, where you will get a nice view of the bridge you just crossed. The Embarcadero has a ton of lights to get thru before you get to Pier 8, but trust me, the end result is worth it.


Here's the parking lot across from Pier 8 on Fisherman's Wharf. As you can see there are a number of seafood restaurants here that have views of the bay and cater to tourists. While the sight of this would scare most sane people away, I was on a mission and zoning in on my crabby target.


Dungeness crabs, yanked right out of the steamer, at Nick's.


This is where the action is, and where you can get up close an personal with your lunch and the people preparing it.


Pile 'O Crab Salads. And that aint no surimi.


A Dungeness that has been prepared for my consumption.


Shrimp Cocktail.


Clam Chowda in a sourdough bread bowl. A guilty pleasure.




A seafood platter being prepared.


Oysters, prior to ingestion


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Great pictures! I am confused about "Pier 8" though? Pier 39 is the tourist place next door and the actual Pier 8 would be on the opposite side of the ferry building, is the Pier 8 you refer to a restaurant?

My family has lived in San Francisco / North Beach for 100 years and none of us tires of the wharf - if you hit it at the right times it is not overbearingly tourist (assuming you are not wandering Pier 39). We live on top of the hill and wander down for crab in season periodically, even thought it is more expensive. The early morning, before the shops open, is great. Eagle Cafe, upstairs at Pier 39, is a wonderful place that has been in San Francisco since the 1920's and was moved to the Pier 39 location in the (I think) 1970's.

For what it's worth, from the East Bay it is an easy BART ride which connects directly to the historic street cars ("F-Market" line), which takes you directly to the wharf. From the East Bay < $10 round trip.

"The smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us...."

Marcel Proust

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Great pictures!  I am confused about "Pier 8" though?  Pier 39 is the tourist place next door and the actual Pier 8 would be on the opposite side of the ferry building, is the Pier 8 you refer to a restaurant?

Pier 39 is most certainly the tourist destination Jason is talking about - there is a park where piers 4 through 24 should be.

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mmmm, clam chowda in a sourdough bread bowl. when i finally got my own car and was able to drive on my own, i would go up to s.f. on a saturday afternoon and just eat clam chowder in a bread bowl, and drive back to san jose. now living in d.c., while i can get clam chowder in a bread bowl here, something is very different about it than when i was growing up. course, i always liked the clam chowder better in monterey.

that being said, my lovely wife has decided that she must live in san francisco, so, this fall, we are moving to s.f., and i'll be back in the bay area, able to enjoy one of the finer things in life at my leisure.

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It's not Pier 8, though -- it's just "8"... the address of Alioto's (8 Fisherman's Wharf).


[photo from the Alioto's website; you can see Fishermen's Grotto at Number 9 on the right side of the image]


... who used to work on Jefferson Street and hated every last minute of it :blink:

Edited by ScorchedPalate (log)

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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