Fog City Revamp
San Francisco's Fog City Diner has been an iconic movie location for years, if not a great restaurant. Located at the end of Battery Street, close to where the Embarcadero meets Pier 39, it's been a neon-flashing tourist attraction due to its semi-famous reputation and presence in movies like So I Married An Axe Murderer with Mike Myers. I worked at Pier 39 from 2001 to 2003 and we would sometimes meet at Fog City after work, strictly for the kitsch factor. That's why, while walking our half-marathon through the city yesterday (which is really just a twelve mile jaunt buoyed by plenty of food and booze), I looked at the decor of the Fog City Diner and said, "What the hell?"
The place had totally been revamped. So, of course, we went in.
Gone are the grilled cheese sandwiches and BLTs, replaced by modern takes on diner classics like the "Saigon" Dip—the beef is instead roasted pork with cilantro, red chiles, and mint; the au jus is a bowl of pho (genus!!). You can still get a cheeseburger (which we did), but the appetizers are now comprised of things like oysters or blistered peppers with olive oil (which were both attractively-presented and delicious). The cocktail menu takes the cake, however. They're operating with more than fifteen speciality libations on that drink card and the Bloody Mary comes with a freakin' deviled egg (made with mustard instead of mayonnaise and topped with bacon and crispy quinoa).
The new Fog City Diner keeps the hot locale, the beautiful waterfront views, and the iconic name, but gets rid of all the other stuff. The food is now incredible and the drinks top-notch. I almost want to go back again today (and I might!).
Part of the reason we like to walk so much is because only by walking can you stumble upon hidden gems and unknown spots that take you by surprise—even in your own city. While taking Sacramento back towards the water, we saw this beautiful, London-esque/Upstate New York-looking restaurant called Wayfare Tavern (which I'm sure many of you know about, but for me it was a complete unknown). It looked so regal from the outside and the interior was even more impressive. It felt homey, cozy, yet refined in a way that California rarely does. For as much as I love the West Coast, there's a relaxed and almost too-familiar vibe that's often difficult to escape (should you want to). Even when you go out somewhere nice, there are still people wearing flip-flops, or hoodies, or exercise clothes.
Not one person at Wayfare last night was dressed down, however. We almost felt like we were in a completely different part of the country. The crowd was very un-San Francisco and the decour, with its dark wood paneling combined with exposed brick, felt very (New) English.
Deviled eggs must be making a comeback, because the Wayfare Tavern also specializes in the much-maligned American classic. Fried chicken is also back with a vengeance. I was impressed that Wayfare didn't feel the need to put every drink in a coupe glass, as both our cocktails came in standard rocks glasses with a straw. I love a coupe cocktail, but in the end I'm going to drink it no matter how you serve it, so why not get creative? The Rickey in a simple glass with pebbled ice was just fine. We had a Blue Moon variation on the rocks as well.
Seeing that we only sat at the bar, I'm very tempted to come back for dinner soon. There's an upstairs dining room that's absolutely gorgeous and a private room you can book for special occasions. The bartender also told us they're planning a top floor "members only" club. I took the bar manager's card before I left because I'd be interested in holding a few single malt tastings there. I can't imagine a better atmosphere for Scotch drinking in SF than the Wayfare.