If you, like me, head to the Ferry Building each time you come to San Francisco, you’ll know the problem that lies ahead.
After all the honey sniffing, cheese poking and book browsing you’ve done, a question inevitably arises: Where to get a lovely drink and nibble with a sweeping view of the water and Bay Bridge?
If it’s anytime after 4:30 p.m. or so and you’d like a comfy spot in the Ferry Building — good luck. Some of the places there have such terrific happy hours that you’ll be battling swarms of commuters and tourists all looking to belly up.
On a recent visit, however, my friend Matt had a better plan. Outside, on the Embarcadero, he started going north, pushing head-on into thick gales determined to blow us back. After a few minutes, our struggles were over when we came upon a little shack of a building.
From the palm trees plastered on its side and the kitschy neon sign that said “Pier 23,” I knew this would be the perfect spot …
There is little to say about Pier 23 Cafe beyond the fact that it has no pretensions, cheap beer and a terrific view of the water. Oh, and if you’re there during Happy Hour, oysters are $1 each and fresh as heck.
We had some sliders ($5 each for a regular burger, chicken parmesan or cod and shrimp slider) — the regular ones were fine.
Unless you’re the sort who likes your chicken dry and pamphlet-thin, avoid the chicken parmesan version. The fries — skinny and nicely crisp — weren’t bad though.
Not expecting any dish to wow us, we were stunned into silence when one actually did — the fried bacon-wrapped oysters ($12).
This was the ultimate mud and surf combination. The mix of briny juicy oysters with the layer of crunchy salty bacon was just incredible — and the zesty watercress salad was a lovely foil to all that intense umami.
As it is with any good places, we ended up staying far longer than expected.
The next time I hit the Ferry Building, though, I know I’ll be back.
Pier 23 Cafe, San Francisco, Calif.; 415.362.5125; http://www.pier23cafe.com/main