San Francisco’s Fishermans’ Wharf is one of the busiest tourist attractions in the United States. In a 2010 economic impact report produced by the San Francisco Travel Association, the Wharf neighborhood was visited by tourists 56%, versus 38.4% for the famed Chinatown district. Of the attraction visited in the city, Pier 39 in the Wharf was the most visited at 49.9%, followed by the Golden Gate Bridge (43.6%) and Golden Gate Park (34.6%). Fishermans’ Wharf history starts in the early 1800s, founded by Italian immigrants as an important West Coast fishing hub.
The historic San Francisco cable car lines are a convenient way to travel to the different attractions and eateries on Fishermans’ Wharf. There are several locations on the Wharf that will make your visit memorable, whether you are a first time visitor or repeat tourist. These include Ghirardelli Chocolate, Buena Vista Irish Coffee, Boudin Sourdough Bread, Dungeness Crabs, and Cioppino.
The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company was founded in 1852 by Italian chocolatier Domenico “Domingo” Ghirardelli. Ghirardelli set up shop on Market Street and grew his business into one of the leading chocolate makers in the world. The company, located Ghirardelli Square on Fishermans’ Wharf, is host to many different events throughout the year for both locals and tourists to enjoy. This includes the Ghirardelli Chocolate Festival in September, featuring a chocolate and wine pavilion, ice cream eating contest, and a chef’s demonstration.
The introduction of Irish coffee to the United States came about through a challenge in 1952 between Buena Vista Café owner Jack Koeppler and travel writer Stanton Delaplane. Mastery of the Irish coffee recipe led to the creation of a drink that has been enjoyed by more than 30 million consumers since its introduction. The Buena Vista Café, opened in 1916, is located at 2765 Hyde Street. It is to the left of the last stop of the Powell-Hyde cable car in Fishermans’ Wharf.
The Boudin Sourdough bread comes from a recipe brought to San Francisco’s Fishermans’ Wharf in the 1850s during the Gold Rush period. The bread, created by the Boudins, a family of French bakers, is characteristic of a distinct tangy taste, crunchy crust and soft, chewy center. Visitors to the Wharf may take a guided tour of the bakery, located at 160 Jefferson Street. The bakery offers many examples of the sourdough bread that is synonymous with the city.
The November crab season brings to the Wharf boxes of Dungeness crabs. Trapped in pots set at depths of 18 to 35 fathoms (100 to 200 feet) off of Farallon Island, the crab yield provides diners with access to this local delicacy. The crab has a salty/sweet flavor and are meatier than comparable blue crabs found in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Many of the restaurants on Fishermans’ Wharf offers dishes that feature this local seafood fare.
Cioppino is the name for an Italian-American fish stew that was created in San Francisco. It consists of Dungeness crab meat, clams, mussels and Sourdough bread. It is also the name for Cioppino’s, a Wharf restaurant that represents four generations of restauranteurs who have been making the stew since the 1900s. The restaurant, located at 400 Jefferson Street, is still in the business of making this signature San Francisco dish.