The Ferry Building in San Francisco is a great place to get breakfast. And lunch. And dinner. The place is fairly bursting with food what with the restaurants, food stalls and markets. You could eat all day there. In fact, you really should eat all day there. That’s what a Hobbit would do.
How a Hobbit Eats
Hobbits eat seven square meals a day: breakfast, second breakfast, elevensees, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper. It’s a sensible nutrition plan. If you are short and hardy (as I am), then you need a regular influx of nutrition to keep you energized on your adventures. The Hobbit’s adventures included Misty Mountain dragons and the defense of Gondor. Mine have included hiking the Camino de Santiago and walking the full length of the Embarcadero in San Francisco. On your own adventure in SF, you’re going to need seven meals to keep you going. And the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero is the perfect place to eat all of them.
This guide to the Ferry Building breakfast (and the 6 other meals) will tell you everything you need for a full day and a full belly.
Ferry Building Breakfast
First, you need some coffee. Head to the north end of the concourse for some Blue Bottle coffee. Blue Bottle offers strong, individual pour-over drip coffee as well as espresso and the other fancy Italian sounding coffees. They also offer waffles. But rather than such an obvious choice for your Ferry Building breakfast, I’d like to encourage you to think outside of the box.
Pick up your coffee, spin around and march over to the Humphrey Slocombe ice cream stand. Ice cream for breakfast? YES. My husband’s family regularly eats dessert for breakfast and so should you. Besides, the best flavor on their board is called “Secret Breakfast”. It’s a deliciously crafted ice cream flavored with bourbon and studded with real corn flakes. Best Ferry Building breakfast ever. Don’t worry, it’s not too bourbony and your strong coffee will offset any hangover.
Ferry Building Second Breakfast
Once your head has cleared, it’s time for second breakfast. While the coffee and ice cream was great, it won’t stick to your ribs for long and you need sustenance if you are going to survive the day. So head over to Mijita. It’s an upscale taqueria offering a broad range of items from soup to tacos. But for your breakfast, you should have the chilaquiles. They are strips of fried tortilla soaked in enchilada sauce and topped with onions, beans and egg. It’s like nachos for your Ferry Building breakfast. As you eat your chilaquiles, you can gaze out the picture window and watch the 9-5 desk slaves arriving at the ferry dock.
Ferry Building Elevenses
During the early days of the Fellowship of the Ring quest, Pippin the hungry Hobbit asked Aragon when they were going to eat second breakfast and elevenses. Poor Pippin, Aragon had no intention of slowing down their quest for such foolishness. So he tossed Pip an apple and told him to keep moving. An apple makes a perfect elevenses snack. It can be a light nutritious digestif after your chilaquiles. You can find some lovely apples at the “Farm Fresh to You” market on the main concourse.
Or if you choose to have your visit on a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, you can pick up some other delicious locally grown fruit at the farmer’s market outside. If you want an elevenses with more umami, then try some picked mushrooms from Far West Fungi. As you know, Hobbits love mushrooms and the pickled variety that Far West offers won’t get spoiled on your journey.
Ferry Building Luncheon
Hobbits (and the writers of blogs who like Hobbits) are known to appreciate fresh bread and well crafted cheese. Cheese and bread are the original ploughman’s lunch and they will serve you well on your culinary quest. Stop first at the Acme Bread Company. Their breads are the perfect mix of chewy crust and airy centers. I’m partial to their green onion slab. It’s got a nice bite from the onion and offers a nice flat surface upon which to place your cheese.
For the cheese, go right next door to Cowgirl Creamery. They make many of their own award-winning cheeses but they also carry an admirable selection of global cheeses. My favorite is their Wagon Wheel. It’s a nice medium bodied cheese that pairs well with my mouth. But if you note in the picture below, they also carry Cornish Yarg. It’s a cheese that hails from Neal’s Dairy Yard of London and I purchased some on a recent cheese quest in Salt Lake City. You can’t go wrong with either and the Cheesemongers will give you a taste to help you decide.
…brief pause for a nap…
Ferry Building Afternoon Tea
For a more traditional Tea ceremony, you can check out Imperial Tea Court. They offer an Asian style afternoon tea with dim sum and a wide variety of black, green and herbal teas. Or, if you want something more portable, you could visit El Porteno. They make Argentine empanadas which are a perfect package of pie crust and meat filling that will keep you going until dinner.
Ferry Building Dinner
One of the most popular Ferry Building restaurants is the Slanted Door. They offer a modern take on Vietnamese cooking. Some of their most popular dinner offerings include the organic chicken clay pot, cellophane crab noodles or grass-fed ‘shaking’ beef. An evening reservation is recommended. But if you have to wait, you can do so in their chill bar. From there, you can observe the 9-5 desk slaves getting back onto the ferry for their evening commute home.
Ferry Building Supper
To cleanse your palate after the Slanted Door, you may need to indulge in some “tasty salted pig parts” from Boccalone. They have salami, sorpressata and other cured pork treats which will give you an excellent protein base to fuel tomorrow’s adventures. Too heavy? OK then, head to Recchiuiti for delicious San Francisco hand-crafted chocolates.
Visiting the Ferry Building
The Ferry Building is located on the Embarcadero at the very end of Market Street. It was originally built in 1892 and was lovingly restored 100 years later. It has always been a working ferry building but it’s current incarnation also functions as a home base for rabid foodies. The market stores are open 10-6 most days with some restaurants staying open later. The farmer’s market runs on Tuesday and Thursday 10-2 and Saturday 8-2.
So, maybe you aren’t a Hobbit. Maybe you can’t eat seven meals a day. Or perhaps your schedule prevents you from spending 8 hours at the Ferry Building. I get it. But please consider having at least one Ferry Building breakfast, lunch or dinner. You’ll be glad you did.
If you’ve enjoyed wandering this little corner of San Francisco, try taking a street art walking tour or a bookstore stroll in the Mission District. And check out this list of Instagrammable spots and photography galleries in SF and this guide to getting the best views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
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