Food & Drink

15 Things You Need to Eat in San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Published On 07/06/2015 Published On 07/06/2015
Trevor Felch/Thrillist
Flickr/Alexis Lamster 

Acme Bread Co.

What you’re getting: Olive bread
Acme’s bread display is a downright yeasty Wonka factory of fougasse, levain, and -- in our opinion -- our fair city’s premier sourdough (though many believe it’s not sour ENOUGH). The move, though, is somehow not the sourdough but instead the olive, based off the whole wheat levain with plenty of not-salty green olives. Grab a kids-sized olive roll and you’ll waltz away only 95 cents poorer. Not bad for the best bread outside of 18th and Guerrero.

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee

What you’re getting: Liège Belgian waffles
The Gibraltar is so amaz.. okay, you don’t need us to tell you about the worst-kept secret drink in the Bay Area. And sure, you’ll be getting ground coffee beans in some drink form at the kiosk with the most relentless wait in the city, but you should also be getting its Liège Belgian waffles -- brioche dough slicked with caramelized sugar. Dunking: optional.



What you’re getting: Salumi Cone
It is as it sounds. A conical takeout container filled with the salumi of your piggy dreams. How is it different than a salumi platter? Because it’s in a cone. And eating out of a cone makes everything so, so much better.


What you’re getting: Mezze
Literally anything from 1) Amaryll Schwertner’s Boulibar menu, 2) her Boulettes Larder brunch (which should be the official version of the city’s official meal), and 3) the baked goods from the Boulettes Larder kiosk could make this list. But pull up a chair, order a cocktail, and munch on the mezze with warm, fresh pita. The hummus is slick with olive oil and dusted with the always-alluring za’atar, there’s a feta tzatziki spruced up with dill and cucumber slices, and there's a chili-forward pickled carrot relish with a strong dose of roasted sesame seeds. This is how every meal should open.

Cap’n Mike’s Holy Smoke

What you’re getting: San Francisco Lox Sandwich
Even better than its URL, Cap’n Mike’s Holy Smoke’s red king salmon lox is served over cream cheese-smothered Acme sourdough bread, garnished with some cucumber, fennel, dill, capers, and roasted red peppers. Of course you’re also taking home some smoked salmon candy for sandwiches of your own at home since Cap’n Mike's only sidles up to the pier on Saturdays.

Cowgirl Creamery

Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick Café & Milk Bar

What you’re getting: Grilled cheese sandwich
Cowgirl Creamery might be California’s most important cheesemaker, which makes its grilled cheese one of California’s most important, too. Usually you’ll get three cheeses in there (it’s on a rotating sandwich menu, which means it isn’t always the same), but even if you don’t, you can’t lose. Because: grilled cheese. Oh, and get a small side tomato soup for dunking. As if we needed to tell you that.

El Porteño

What you’re getting: Dulce de leche alfajores
Whether you go savory with chicken, raisins, and green olives, or go the regal sweet route with banana and dulce de leche, just make sure you also go the alfajores route, because on it, you’ll encounter a little three-bite biscuit cookie sandwich with dulce de leche that is a powerful combination of sweet-salty-sticky. Oh, and El Porteño isn’t the easiest to find, since the kiosk is the size of an alfajor -- just look for Sur La Table, it’s right by it.

Frog Hollow Farms

Frog Hollow Farms

What you’re getting: The Scuffin
There’s the whole "farm-to-table" movement in the Bay Area -- which used to be a precious novelty, but now even the likes of Pizza Hut is on the farm wagon band wagon. Then there’s really, truly, the "farm-to-its-own-café-table" movement, where you can basically count on one hand the options. Frog Hollow would be one of them. Stock up on jams and fruits and vegetables in season. Linger with avocado toast or pizza for lunch. Finally, and most importantly, the Scuffin. Scone. Muffin. Together. Peach filling at the moment because remember, it’s a farm and season place. It doesn’t yet have the fame of cruffins, Cronuts, puffins, and whatever, which is totally fine by us.


Hog Island Oyster Co.

What you’re getting: Oysters Rockefeller
As good as its grilled cheese sandwich with aforementioned Cowgirl Creamery’s fromage blanc is (and it’s REALLY GOOD), we know why everyone is here: oysters on the half shell. A superb oyster chowder that blows clams out of the water. An oyster po-boy. And the heavy hitter draped in spinach, onions, Pernod, and (lots of) cream -- the grilled oysters Rockefeller. Remember, as the saying goes, the world is your oyster... or is it life is an oyster? We don’t know. Just add a spritz of lemon and slurp.

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream

Humphry Slocombe

What you’re getting: Scoop of Peanut Butter Curry
Not a secret: Secret Breakfast is incredibly Overrated. Capital O. Secret: the ever-creative ice cream mind of Jake Godby rarely lets you down, and the best flavor almost always on the list is Peanut Butter Curry. Peanut butter with a spicy, almost vicious edge. The switch from Ciao Bella Gelato to Humphry Slocombe last year was like Erick Dampier to Andrew Bogut. Major upgrade.

Flickr/the foodhoe

Il Cane Rosso

What you’re getting: Petaluma Farms Warm Egg Salad Sandwich
Lauren Kiino put those two forlorn items (egg salad and roasted chicken) in the spotlight after opening this stand -- and it remains a standard bearer citywide. The egg salad sandwich is nothing short of ridiculous and a lot of that has to do with anchovy butter. And the aged Provolone. And the Acme focaccia.


What you’re getting: Pork tamale
The discussions about the “best” burritos, tacos, and margaritas never end in San Francisco. What about tamales? Well, there’s far less to discuss considering the discussion ends rather abruptly here with this longtime Sonoma-based vendor. The only decision really is do you go with the pork filling or equally strong butternut squash? Just a heads up: Primavera’s stand only sets up Saturdays on the Bay side of the building.

Roli Roti Gourmet Rotisserie
Flickr/Sonny Abesamis

The Slanted Door

What you’re getting: Slanted Door Spring Rolls
The hard part of The Slanted Door experience isn’t getting in (just pay $20 on Table 8 -- it almost always has a free table for four at 7:30pm the day of). The hard part of The Slanted Door experience is actually narrowing down what in the world to order. The extensively hyped Shaking Beef and Crab Cellophane Noodles do grace every table for a reason, but start with the most important item: spring rolls. Wrapped in almost translucent rice paper, they’re a refreshing, riveting punch of shrimp, pork, and probably an entire bunch of mint leaves. And they’re not fried (NOT fried!). Word to the wise: guard the peanut dipping sauce with your life.

Three Babes Bakeshop

Three Babes Bakeshop

What you’re getting: Salty Honey Walnut pie
If you want pie, you’ll want to be here Saturday morning, and you’ll get the Salty Honey Walnut version that manages to out-sugar typical pecan pie much to your dentist’s delight. When the leaves start falling, this is the name to know for pumpkin- and apple-themed pies that are far better than your attempts at lattice crust-topped endeavors.

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Trevor Felch is a restaurants writer for SF Weekly and contributing editor for Vino 24/7. He has never been on a ferry that departs from the Ferry Building, but has been sea sick on a rough ferry crossing between Finland and Estonia. Follow him on Twitter @TrevorFelch.

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1. Acme Bread Co. 1 Ferry Building Ste 15, San Francisco, CA 94111

Acme is a wholesale bread company with a few retail locations including this counter service outpost. The bakery uses only organic flour and sells various types of bread from sweet to sourdough.

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2. Blue Bottle Coffee 1 Ferry Building, Ste 7, San Francisco, CA 94111

This location actually consists of two coffee bars: one in the main arcade of the San Francisco Ferry Building and one "secret" bar tucked around the corner and accessible through a side entrance. Both bars brew single-origin beans for a unique coffee experience. Be sure to get a made-to-order carmelized Belgian waffle from 7am to 2pm. The coffee bars also serve up granola and other treats from their Oakland kitchen.

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3. Boccalone Salumeria 1 Ferry Building, #21, San Francisco, CA 94111

Leave it to pig whisperer Chris Cosentino to do pork proud in the Ferry Building -- enjoy all manor of cured meats at this spot with the catchiest slogan of any butcher -- "tasty salted pig parts".

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4. Boulibar 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

While the tourists make a meal of Ferry Building samples and the Zagat-toting crowd fills up at The Slanted Door (because that’s what they’re told), you'll be kicking it with Amaryll Schwertner, and her consistently underrated little bowls of mezze and rustic Mediterranean-Middle Eastern dishes from the fireplace. Far-from-run-of-the-mill pizzas at lunch are always a hit, and don’t you dare leave without picking up some canelés from the Boulette’s Larder to-go kiosk around the corner. Seriously dude. Don't.

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5. Cap'n Mike's Holy Smoke 1 Ferry Plz, San Francisco, CA 94111

This fresh and delicious stand serves up lox sandwiches on Acme sourdough bread complete with cream cheese, fennel, dill, cucumber, capers and roasted red peppers. This location is only open on Saturdays, so get some extra lox to hold you over for the rest of the week.

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6. Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick Cafe & Milk Bar 1 Ferry Building #19, San Francisco, CA 94105

This carry-away cafe, located next door to Cowgirl Creamery's cheese shop in the San Francisco Ferry Plaza, dishes out delicious grilled cheese with the option of tomato soup sides for dunking. Don't forget to grab their San Francisco egg cream for dessert.

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7. El Porteño 1 San Francisco Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

Hit up El Porteño to grab buttery, flaky empanadas for both savory -- like bay shrimp with aged Parmesan and green onions -- and/or (definitely AND) sweet cravings -- like dulce de leche and bananas.

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8. Frog Hollow Farm 1 Ferry Building, Shop # 46, San Francisco, CA 94111

This waterside farm-to-table cafe is a true urban farm stand offering in-season fruits and vegetables. Order a scuffin, or a scone-muffin hybrid with seasonal fruit fillings.

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9. Hog Island Oyster Co. 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

Hog Island Oyster Bar, located in the Ferry Building Marketplace, does its namesake proud; for those that love oysters, few places do it better. With outdoor seating that truly completes the seafaring experience, a grilled-cheese sandwich with superb word-of-mouth buzz, and cold, IPA brews to complement, Hog Island has serious make-a-day-out-of-it appeal.

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10. Humphry Slocombe 1 Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA 94111

With creative flavors and offbeat names, this ice cream outpost is sure to intrigue every time. Ice cream mastermind Jake Godby is always coming up with new ideas like peanut butter curry and carrot mango.

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12. Primavera Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, San Francisco, CA 94105

This longtime Sonoma-based vendor comes to the San Francisco Ferry Building to serve up piping hot tamales every Saturday on the Bay side.

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13. The Slanted Door 1 Sausalito - San Francisco Ferry Bldg #3, San Francisco, CA 94111

Traditional Vietnamese cuisine infused with Bay Area spirit, The Slanted Door, according to its visionary owner/executive chef Charles Phan, is a restaurant that "refused to cut any corners."Using local, fresh ingredients, patrons experience a variety of meals given a modern, subtle twist.

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14. Three Babes Bakeshop 1 Ferry Bldg, San Francisco, CA 94111

If you want pie and are anywhere near San Francisco, this is the spot for you. When fall rolls around, head here for your pumpkin- and apple-themed needs, and every other time of year, be sure to grab a Salty Honey Walnut pie that out-sugars even your typical pecan version.