A truly one-of-a-kind experience, this “island” is actually a houseboat converted into a restaurant, complete with an elegant underwater dining room, beach, and climbable lighthouse, tied up beside the city’s famous barking sea lions. As a lover of the uncommon, it’s been one of my favorite places to take people for years. (I’ve even rented the place out for parties.) But not for the food, which is fine. The draw is the experience: Get to the dock, phone the restaurant to send their pontoon boat, take the 3-minute ride to the island, and explore the world that is Forbes Island. Thank master carpenter (and pontoon skipper) Forbes Kiddoo for this whimsical experience. In the late 1970s, Kiddoo spent 5 years building the 1,600-square-foot floating home. After adding a beach, boulders, and 40-foot palm trees, Kiddoo dropped anchor across the bay in Sausalito, and might have lived there forever had new houseboat regulations not forced him to shove off. After drifting around for a few years (pun intended), and adding a 40-foot lighthouse in 1998, the island was towed to Pier 39, a license was obtained, and San Francisco’s first and only floating lighthouse restaurant was born. As well as two daily fresh fish dishes, the menu includes risotto, lamb chops, steaks and more. With a fire burning in the old fireplace, and the wood and brass interior, this underwater dining room is cozy, homey, and really cool. Heads up: Since you’re dining on a vessel, a slight rocking occurs, but it’s almost undistinguishable.
- Erika Lennert