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Best Off-Shore Dining San Francisco 2002 - Forbes Island

Forbes Island

Forbes Island

The Embarcadero

San Francisco, CA 94111


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We initially visited Forbes Island for the novelty: a houseboat-cum-restaurant fashioned into a mini-island, complete with palm trees and lighthouse above, fine dining below (and we do mean below -- some of the portholes are underwater, so you occasionally catch sight of fish swimming by). But we returned for the wonderful ambience and even more wonderful food. At Pier 39's "H" Dock, you board the Island Queen, an excursion vessel captained by owner Forbes Kiddoo himself. You are ferried past the famous sea lions to the floating restaurant. On your way to the dining room, Kiddoo points out the ship's wheel (this is a motorized vessel after all, not a stationary barge), which has been around the Horn 17 times, and he notes the view up the circular staircase to the top of the lighthouse. Then it's downstairs for dinner. The mushroom ragout appetizer is a popular favorite. The menu consists mostly of meat (filet mignon, osso bucco), but there are daily vegetarian and fish specials as well, with seemingly not a miss in the bunch. Service is excellent. And the nautical décor is entertainment in itself: Every table has a lighthouse lamp, each a replica of a famous sentinel in the world. Be sure to visit the bathroom for a glimpse of Kiddoo's old living quarters -- this 27-year-old craft used to be his home. After dinner, you can make your way to the top of Forbes Island's own lighthouse, or just head back on the "ferry," all the while planning your next visit to the isle.

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