If you don’t like crowds and all kinds of tourist traps, Fisherman’s Wharf is probably not the best place to be. But if it is your first time in San Francisco, I would recommend an hour or two to wander around, sample some fresh sourdough bread and feast on Dungeness crabs.
And with a tourist in tow (a staff M came with us on this trip), we headed out to the Wharf the morning of our departure and spent our last few hours in SF doing just that.
Fisherman’s Wharf is best known for Pier 39, the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park, Ghirardelli Square and a lot more, it is however most famous for (at least as far as I’m concerned) the restaurants and stands that serves fresh seafood, more notably its Dungeness Crabs and Clam Chowder on sourdough bread. While you can actually get great tasting Dungeness crabs elsewhere like R&G in Chinatown and a favorite back then, Thanh Long at the Sunset district
and the sourdough bread over at Acme is, in my opinion, more superior, my brother always says that, “experiencing it where it all started is always more meaningful”. I agree.
And Fisherman’s Wharf is the epicenter of San Francisco’s famed Dungeness crabs. The fresh street Dungeness crabs sold by vendors are expensive but very fresh – ask for fresh crabs and you’ll get one that is freshly cooked for you.
Even before there were sidewalk vendors and restaurants, some of the fishermen would set up cauldrons of boiling water and cook the freshly caught crabs, handing them out in paper cups as a crab cocktail. Many restaurants and vendors today continue the tradition of steaming crab cauldrons in front of their place of business and still serve them on paper cups. One may however opt to order a whole cooked crab to take home. Firm and sweet, this crustacean has played a significant role in defining San Francisco’s culture – from the boat docks of Fisherman’s Wharf and the Italian restaurants nearby to the Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants around the city today.
Clam Chowder on sourdough bread is my brother’s favorite and Boudin Café is where he usually goes to get them. Born in the Gold Rush, Boudin Bakery is the oldest business in San Francisco. Known for its sourdough bread, the bakery still uses the same starter yeast bacteria culture it developed in 1849.
Although their main bakery is in the Richmond district, their Baker’s Hall at the Wharf is their flagship place. It may not be the best today; it surely is still a very decent piece of sourdough bread and is and will always be synonymous to San Francisco.
I love San Francisco and no matter how often I visit, I will never tire of it. It is after all my favorite city. So until next time…