If you, like me, head to the Ferry Building each time you come to San Francisco, you’ll know the problem that lies ahead.
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