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Cliff House, San Francisco

(340+ reviews on the web)
Historic Site
The Cliff House is a restaurant perched on the headland above the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach, on the western side of San Francisco, California. It overlooks the site of the former Sutro Baths and is now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, operated by the National Park Service. On the terrace of the Cliff House is a room-sized camera obscura.HistoryCliff House has had five major incarnations since its beginnings in 1858. That year, Samuel Brannan, a prosperous ex-Mormon elder from Maine, bought for $1,500 the lumber salvaged from a ship that foundered on the basalt cliffs below. With this material he built the first Cliff House.The second Cliff House was built in 1863, and leased to Captain Junius G. Foster. It was a long trek from the city and hosted mostly horseback riders, small game hunters or picnickers on day outings. With the opening of the Point Lobos toll road a year later, the Cliff House became successful with the Carriage trade for Sunday travel. Later the builders of the toll road constructed a two-mile speedway beside it where well-to-do San Franciscans raced their horses along the way. On weekends, there was little room at the Cliff House hitching racks for tethering the horses for the thousands of rigs. Soon, omnibus, railways and streetcar lines made it to near Lone Mountain where passengers transferred to stagecoach lines to the beach. The growth of Golden Gate Park attracted beach travellers, in search of meals and a look at the sea lions sunning themselves on Seal Rocks just off the cliffs, to visit the area.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • As a native San Franciscan, Cliff House is a highly recommended experience. It's nearby the old Sutro Baths, which are full of interesting history (especially for kids), and has beautiful views of the...  more »
  • The cliff house is in a wonderful setting and there is no reason you need to go spend the money to eat at the cliff house. Get a Pannini from Safeway and walk around the cliff house, Ocean Beach, the ...  more »
  • Great place for romantic meals and views. We could not get into the Bistro or restaurant ( we will reserve next time) but the bar food was delicious -and big portions of the clams and pure crab cakes ...  more »
Google
  • This never seems to happen but it's true. A tourist attraction with: A stunning view! Warm, friendly, efficient, like-you're-family service! OUTSTANDING food and beverage made with fresh, local, organic ingredients. City prices but reasonable considering the quality and other terrific attributes. HIGHLY recommended!
  • The Cliff House is an historic institution in San Fransisco. The views from the windows are amazing. Do note there is more than one restaurant at the Cliff House. We were meeting my brother and his wife there, so they had made reservations at Sutro's. We are not fast food bottom feeders, but the menu and prices were beyond our comfort zone. As my brother said, "If I can't pronounce it or know what it is, I don't eat it." My brother's wife asked if we could move to the Bistro and the waiter said it happens all the time. They were very gracious about it. We still had a window seat at the Bistro with an even better view. Here was a menu we could understand with prices we were more comfortable with. We were late afternoon, so the breakfast menu was still available. I had the sourdough French toast with bacon...so good. My wife had an omelette. What I tasted was very good. It was a neat place to visit. Be sure to stop by the gift shop.
  • We went to Cliff house on a normal weekday, waited 30 mins but got a crappy seat beside the toilet. Waitress was not friendly at all. So we went to Louis' instead and lucky us, no wait, got a window seats and get to see some dolphins swimming while lunching. If you don't mind the wait.....and good luck with the seating. I will try to visit again, and review on the food and if it is worth the wait.
  • I was visiting a friend in the city and she took me here. What a wonderful piece of history with an unbeatable view. We had drinks and our waiter couldn't have been nicer. Definitely coming back here when i visit again.
  • Cliff house is such a wonderful place for a memorable wedding. View, facilities, food.... everything is that flawless!!! I am a wedding coordinator and I was totally fall in love with the gorgeous view here and can not wait to have my own wedding here. I wish, someday! Highly recommend!!! Everything is that perfect that I thought!