The Embarcadero, between the Ferry Building and Pier 39, used to be something of a wasteland occupied by underutilized Piers and a few long-standing restaurants, such as Waterfront and Butterfly.
Now, with the opening of the Exploratorium and the America’s Cup Village, it has emerged, at least through September, as one of the most happening areas in the city. It has also become a hot new restaurant destination, attracting star restaurants including Charles Phan, Michael Chiarello and Gaston Acurio.
While one could easily spend a full day-including meals and drinks—at each of these destinations, the entire expanse, at least from Waterfront and Epic Roasthouse restaurants (or if you’re really ambitions, from AT&T Park), through Fisherman’s Wharf and Ghirardelli Square are worthy of a long walk, not do speak of some memorable stops and meals.
Making a Day of It
Better yet—make a day of it. Ideally a Saturday on a day when one of the Vuitton Cup or America’s Cup Races is being run, and when the Giants are playing an evening game. You may, for example:
- Spend a morning along the northern end of the Embarcadero, taking time at the Maritime Museum, through walking the fishing boats behind Fisherman’s Wharf, exploring the Musée Mécanique and taking a tour of the Boudin Bakery. Even Pier 39, beyond all the tourist shops and restaurants, has a small but interesting aquarium;
- Since the Exploratorium merits (and the $25 admission charge effectively mandates) several hours, you may have to reserve that for another day. America’s Cup Village, however, can be explored in an hour or less;
- Take a early lunch at one of the new celebrity chef restaurants between Piers 1 and 5 (Le Mar for Peruvian and Hard Water for American Southern and our favorite, Coqueta for Spanish). Wherever you stop, make it a light lunch, since there is plenty more eating at your next stop;
- Arrive at the Ferry Building in time for a walk through the wonderful Farmer’s Market, sampling many of the different types of produce and cheese and perhaps picking up something a bit more substantial at one of the many Ferry Building food stalls or Farmer’s Market food stands–or if you want to go all out, another light lunch at the Slanted Door.
- Continue south on the Embarcadero, stopping for coffee at Red’s Java House or a drink at one of the many South Beach restaurant/bars, before catching a late afternoon or early evening Giants game;
- Return to Waterbar, Epic Roasthouse or Slanted Door for dinner at a window or patio table where you can watch the Bay Lights light sculpture.
A busy day to be sure. It does, however, provide a pretty good idea as to what the new and improved Embarcadero has to offer.