Establishment neighborhood
Hog Island Oyster Co.
1 Ferry Building 11A, Embarcadero
Fresh off a major expansion, which doubled capacity and added outdoor seating, this Ferry Building mainstay draws a consistently big crowd for its oysters. The cooked food menu is pretty enticing as well: The clam chowder is creamy but doesn’t weigh you down after just a few bites and the shrimp and grits is the ideal share plate. But back to the oysters. There are three different variations of grilled oysters in addition to an oyster po’ boy that actually rivals the original.
Heath Ceramics
One Ferry Building, Embarcadero
A true mid-century American icon, Heath has been producing beautiful modern and minimal tableware (with a brief break) and tiles since 1948. In fact, it's part of the permanent collections in New York's MoMA—and graces many a table across the Los Angeles restaurant scape. The store, like the products, is modern and minimal, with wooden shelves, concrete floors and a lot of space to browse. Besides the Heath line, they've selected a handful of designers to showcase. There are multiple locations in the SF area, including a bigger showroom in the Mission and a factory store in Sausalito offering seconds (i.e., subtly imperfect plates and bowls) at big discounts.
Slanted Door
1 Ferry Building, Embarcadero
The first thing you notice about this San Francisco standby are the views. Ever since The Slanted Door moved into the Ferry Building from its original Valencia street location, the bay has become a welcome addition to the minimalist interior (same goes for the sleek private dining rooms upstairs). But one thing hasn’t changed: this is still the place for Vietnamese. The emphasis is on fresh and organic ingredients. If you’re wanting a quick fix, you can also pick up food to-go at their Out the Door counter in the Ferry Building marketplace. Slanted Door also has a few sister restaurants including Out The Door on Bush Street, which is where the crowds are flocking these days.
The Exploratorium
Pier 15 at Green St., Embarcadero
Two years ago, the Exploratorium left from its long-time home next to the Palace of Fine Arts to occupy Pier 15 on the waterfront, a move that more than tripled their exhibition space and also put them in a building with LEED Platinum certification. The science museum features an incredible Tactile Dome, which is a maze of tunnels and slides that you go through completely in the dark using only your sense of touch—needless to say, kids love it.