By Laurie Jo Miller Farr
Thick and creamy chowder served in an edible sourdough bread bowl is San Francisco’s signature soup. Savor yours in or around Fisherman’s Wharf to put an authentic touch into the experience. But one cannot live on clam chowder alone (or maybe one actually can?) so put these other delicious Bay Area soups served in landmark places on your must-try list.
Blue Mermaid at Argonaut Hotel
495 Jefferson St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
When you can’t decide which specialty chowder to go for, Executive Chef Nathaniel Mitzner has a solution. Order the sampler trio for his award-winning California Dungeness crab and corn chowder alongside house made New England clam chowder and Manhattan clam chowder. Just one more decision looms—whether to choose a cup, bowl, or a bread bowl. If you simply can’t wait until your next visit to the City by the Bay, check out chef’s recipe for his signature crab and corn chowder on the website.
No matter which chowder is your top choice, you’ll enjoy it in an appropriate oceanfront ambience with seafaring touches. Blue Mermaid is housed in the historic Haslett Warehouse in the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park adjacent to the award-winning Argonaut Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf. In the evening, gather around cozy fire pits in the outdoor patio with its original red brick façade of the Cannery Courtyard and waterfront views.
Westfield Mall, Level 4
845 Market St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
San Francisco is known all over the world for its Chinatown. But you’re going to find a classic hot and sour soup here instead. Tucked under the elaborate dome on the fourth floor of the Westfield Shopping Centre, the location is convenient for shoppers and it’s smack along the route on most of the city’s big holiday parades. Plus, you’re in for a show with the open kitchen at this destination restaurant. Between the chefs’ ballet of preparing pulled noodles from a ball of dough and the sizzling flaming woks, sitting at the counter is like watching a performance.
If you’re not afraid of spicy, the “hot and sour soup is an explosion in your mouth,” says one reviewer. Co-owner and Chef Martin Yan lends his initials to the restaurant’s name and shares his “Yan Can Cook” recipe from the award-winning PBS-TV cooking show that he’s hosted since 1982. It’s a classic hot and sour soup that leaves no doubt about chef’s talents with flavors.
Homegrown Sustainable Sandwiches
222 Battery St.
San Francisco, CA 94111
Soup and salad, soup and a sandwich are classic combinations for a casual lunch in the heart of the Financial District. Everything is made with a keen focus on fresh, hyper-local, and organic ingredients. Order the gluten-free Tomato Soup, the Seasonal Special Soup or the Vegetarian Chili and pair it with one of Homegrown’s locally sourced sandwiches or salads.
Each and every element of the stores is thoughtfully curated and evaluated for taste, quality, and environmental impact. From the reclaimed building materials in the store’s construction, to offsetting 100 percent of the store’s electric power usage with clean wind energy, to the farms growing ingredients used in every meal, it’s all part of the homegrown commitment. Two more Homegrown locations are in Danville and Lafayette.
Limewood Bar & Restaurant
41 Tunnel Road
Berkeley, CA 94705
Step up to the window to peer over the tops of majestic palm trees to the sparkling bay and Golden Gate Bridge beyond. At the century-old landmark Claremont Club & Spa, appreciate some of the best views in the East Bay while rating a quality sunset seen from the Lobby Lounge & Bar. In the adjoining room, notice the one-of-a-kind artifacts and artwork paying tribute to the legacies of Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay, the first to reach Mt. Everest’s summit.
If you pause to stroke Edie, the house dog, she might point the way through the lobby to reach the dining room at Limewood. It’s a showcase for regionally-sourced cuisine, a casual California concept led by Michelin-starred Chef Joseph Humphrey.
Once you can shift your gaze from the ultra-cool tessalated floor tile design, it’s time to focus on the menu. Start your meal with soup. For refreshing and summery in season, chilled cucumber gazpacho with crudo beats the East Bay heat. And when there’s a chill in the air, the tasty smoked mussel chowder with bacon and pickled Fresno chilies served year-round is very popular; you’ll taste why.
Related: Best Bread Bowls In The Bay Area
Oakland, CA 94612
What happens when former chemists trained at the esteemed Tokyo Ramen Academy of Japan open a ramen restaurant across from Oakland City Hall? East Bay meets Eastern influences at the newest place for ramen. (P.S. At Public Market Emeryville, check out The Periodic Table, their even newer sake bar and tap room serving ramen.) The husband and wife team believes the construction of ramen is not that far away from organic chemistry and their ‘lab’ is their kitchen. Authentic, yet approachable Japanese ramen is served with the belief that ramen needn’t be expensive to be delicious.
Clear is a light clear broth with bean sprouts, soft boiled egg, pork chashu, bamboo shoots, green onions, and microgreens, Spicy (a.k.a. “tan tan”) is a creamy sesame tonkotsu broth with spicy ground pork, bean sprouts, soft-boiled egg, bok choy, green onions, and shredded togarashi peppers.