Dec202009

San Francisco happy hours from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Embarcadero

$49 for the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf last Monday was too good a deal to pass up. The 49ers winning Monday Night Football December 14 was icing on the cake. We have been sugar free too many years with the 49ers.

 

The main criticism I have of the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf 49ers football gameday $49 promotional rate is the hotel did not let guests on the low rate check in before 3pm.  Candlestick Park is 6.5 miles from Fisherman’s Wharf and heavy traffic for games at rush hour. I thought the hotel could have done better to accommodate the large number of guests who genuinely planned to go to the football stadium for the game.

Considering I did not need to travel to Candlestick Park, the after 3pm check-in was not a nuisance for me. I received 1,647 Starpoints ($46 value@$28/1,000 points) for the hotel stay and 2010 stay credit with my SPG Platinum member promotion and complimentary buffet breakfast. This was my first stay at the hotel where I was not in a 4th floor, top floor room. The only real difference in the rooms is the top floor rooms have had couches and the third floor room had only a cushion chair and a floor unit heater.

Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco

Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf San Francisco

 

 

Recently I criticized Oyster.com hotel reviews of San Francisco for comments reviewers made on hotels in the Convention Center district, Union Square, and Financial District as not being in places where locals go. I made the comment that Fisherman’s Wharf hotels are also not in neighborhoods where locals hang out.

View south from Fisherman's Wharf to Financial District

View south from Fisherman's Wharf to Financial District

 

 

The waterfront in the Fisherman’s Wharf area has loads of restaurants, souvenir shops, and tourist traps. The hotels are on the adjacent three blocks away from the water. And to the south are neighborhoods all the way through North Beach, Coit Tower, and Chinatown to the Financial District and Nob Hill. There are loads of locals in the restaurants and cafes south towards the city once you walk away from the piers on the waterfront  and the hotels of Fisherman’s Wharf.

This year I have stayed a few times at Fisherman’s Wharf hotels and I have always found street parking for free. The hotels in this part of town have pros and cons. The number one benefit is the low price during weekdays in the off-season for tourists. The central business district and Moscone convention center hotels in downtown San Francisco are 1.5 to 2.0 miles south of the Wharf and generally run higher rates for Sunday through Thursday nights. Much of the year it is possible to get a hotel room for half the price at Fisherman’s Wharf compared to hotels in the same chain in the San Francisco central business district.

Major brand hotels at Fisherman’s Wharf include Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express, Radisson, and a Sheraton. Kimpton has the Argonaut in a great location and the Fairmont Ghiradelli Residences are on the same block.

Holiday Inn Express Fisherman's Wharf

Holiday Inn Express Fisherman's Wharf

 

 

Advantages of Fisherman’s Wharf Hotels

1.       Low room rates in off-season and generally lower Sunday through Thursday nights compared to the central business district hotels.

2.       While hotel parking is expensive and over $40 per night at some locations like the Sheraton, there are several street blocks around the Sheraton Hotel that are unmetered areas where a car can be parked without restriction except for 2am-6am street cleaning on either Monday, Wednesday, Friday on one side of the street and Tuesday or Thursday on the other side of the street. It is a possible to find a parking space on North Point or Bay Streets good from Thursday morning through Monday evening without paying meters, if you are lucky.

3.       Safeway and Trader Joe’s supermarkets are in the neighborhood. The downtown hotels have few major supermarket locations. Most food is higher priced corner store groceries or what you can find at a Walgreen’s Drugstores which are as prevalent as Starbucks in the central business district.

The Fisherman’s Wharf hotels are all low height buildings of just three of four floors and generally limited views for city vistas in contrast to the downtown skyscraper hotels of Marriott Marquis (39 floors), Hilton (46 floors), Westin Market Street, InterContinental San Francisco, Grand Hyatt, and the Mark Hopkins and Fairmont Tower on Nob Hill with exceptional views.

Powell Street at Nob Hill, top of 36 floor Grand Hyatt in background

Powell Street at Nob Hill, top of 36 floor Grand Hyatt in background

 

 

Walking across San Francisco between the major downtown hotels like the W Hotel, Marriott Marquis, San Francisco Hilton, and InterContinental San Francisco South of Market to Fisherman’s Wharf to the north is only a 45 minute walk. From the Hilton Financial District, Le Meridien, Mandarin Oriental, or hotels on Nob Hill like the Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance Stanford Court, InterContinental Mark Hopkins, or Fairmont the walk is just around 30 minutes.

The cable car can take you directly from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf, but the long lines at Powell Street and Market during busy tourist season may require 30 minutes of waiting in line and chances are you will be crowded on the car with dozens of tourists. The one-way fare of $5 adds up quickly, particularly for a family. Transportation Passports are a good buy for multi-day unlimited public transit on buses, streetcars, and cable cars. BART subway requires separate fares.  Passports are available at Walgreen’s Drugstores, an ubiquitous retailer in the central business district of San Francisco which sells most of the items a tourist may want with the exception of alcohol.

Most hotels around Market Street will recommend traveling to the Fisherman’s Wharf area by the cable car or the F Trolley. The historical trolley cars run from the Castro District down Market to the Embarcadero waterfront and around the piers to Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf.

F-line service on historic streetcars between Castro District and Fisherman's Wharf

F-line service on historic streetcars between Castro District and Fisherman's Wharf

 

 

Walking out the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf I planned to eat at Kennedy’s Irish Pub and Indian Restaurant at 1040 Columbus Avenue and pull down a $2 Guinness or two during the 5-7pm happy hour.

Turned out I was 10 minutes too early for the 5pm Happy Hour Guinness. Planning to kill 10 or 15 minutes I strolled up the street taking photos.

Coit Tower San Francisco

Coit Tower San Francisco

 

 

I soon found myself passing Saints Peter and Paul Church into North Beach. Baseball great Joe Dimaggio was married here to his first wife and had photos taken at the Church with his bride Marilyn Monroe.

Saint Peter and Paul Church, North Beach, San Francisco

Saint Peter and Paul Church, North Beach, San Francisco

 

 

Across Washington Square from the church is Joe Dimaggio’s Restaurant.

I wondered how long it actually takes to walk between Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf Hotel and Le Meridien Hotel at the Embarcadero for people who are visiting the city. The answer is about 30 minutes at a steady, but not fast pace.  This is the same for the time to walk from Fisherman’s Wharf to Nob Hill (Fairmont Hotel, Renaissance Stanford Court, Ritz-Carlton, and the InterContinental Mark Hopkins. The walk is long, but actually less strenuous from the Wharf than walking the much shorter three blocks on a severely steep grade from Union Square up Nob Hill.

San Francisco North Beach neighborhood

San Francisco North Beach neighborhood

View of San Francisco Financial District from North Beach
View of San Francisco Financial District from North Beach

 

 

After the 30 minute walk from Fisherman’s Wharf to Le Meridien I had warmed up nicely from the low 50s temp on a December evening just after dark. A stroll through Le Meridian for a quick lobby check, and 333 Bar was happening with a sizeable business crowd vibe and a 60-40 mix of women to men.

Even the Library Room off the lobby was more quietly filled with business suit attired women. In a sign of the times there are no longer books in the Le Meridien lobby library; replaced by two large wall mounted flat-screen TVs.

Le Meridien Hotel was not my destination. Unite Here Local 2 has Le Meridien San Francisco on their boycott list. I just try to keep track of lobby changes and I was looking for holiday decorations. The number of people in the lobby socializing was more than I ever experienced as a guest and kind of distracted me from checking out the holiday decorations. Nothing too over-the-top festive jumped out at me.

 

I bypassed 150 restaurants between the Wharf and Embarcadero to go to a place I know. Fuzio Universal Pasta sounds like a nice Italian restaurant, but I’ve never had pasta there. The bar runs a 3 to 7pm happy hour with $3 appetizers. Crab Cakes and lettuce wraps for $6 rather than the regular menu price of $17 is a good dining deal. Fuzio has a selection of eight or so beers at $3 per pint – Peroni, Stella, and several California microbrews.

Fuzio Bistro, Embarcadero Complex across street from Le Meridien Hotel, San Francisco

Fuzio Bistro, Embarcadero Complex across street from Le Meridien Hotel, San Francisco

 

 

I recommend Fuzio because I have enjoyed the appetizers and beer for a couple of years at the Embarcadero location and I like the ambience of this café bar. This is a good place to know if you are staying at the Hyatt Regency or Le Meridien hotels, located on either end of the Embarcadero pedestrian walkway complex, and you want a good beer and munchies at a value price on Monday thru Friday happy hours.

 

 

 

The real find of my evening was Café Prague across the street and down Merchant Street alley from Le Meridien. Krusovice light and dark, Pilsner Urquel, and  Czechvar on tap. The beer was $3.50 at Happy Hour for a pint from any of four brews.

This pub was cozy, relaxing global chillage environment, and not at all what I expected when I wandered in to watch the 49ers game. The half-dozen patrons were all low key guys, financial looking types, and the women all seemed to be employees, on and off duty, since they freely moved from in front of the bar to behind the bar throughout my time there. The guys watched the game on mute, both TV and voices for the most part, and the women talked in a blend of Czech and English. Low key Czech rock music played over the stereo. This place had extraordinary vibe and I felt like I had been transported back to Prague for an hour.

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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