The antelope tartare with smoked egg yolk at Angler.

The RundownSan Francisco

What to Order at Angler in San Francisco

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Before you go to a restaurant, what do you want — or need — to know most? In this new series, The Rundown, we’re sharing all the essentials about Resy restaurants.

This is Angler, set directly on the Embarcadero with some of the best waterfront views in San Francisco, and home to some of the city’s finest modern cooking, too. It is open for indoor and outdoor dining.

The Angler Potato. Photo: Bonjwing Lee

Despite the name, Angler is so much more than a seafood restaurant.

Angler opened in 2018 to much critical acclaim, including a spot in Esquire’s Best New Restaurant list. As the name implies, the restaurant came out of the gate billed as a seafood-focused restaurant, featuring fresh sea creatures cooked over fire.

But there is much more from the land to explore, including unique items with unlikely preparations you’ve likely never encountered anywhere before. Take, for example, the antelope tartare, which is served with smoked egg yolk. “All our dishes are imbued with a touch of our hearth,” adds Paul Chung, Director of Culinary for Saison Hospitality, the group that oversees Angler and sister restaurant Saison.

But even a plain potato gets a star treatment, like the signature Angler Potato, which features a creamy Kennebec that’s mandolined thin, reconstructed, steamed, deep fried, and then glazed before setting near the fire. It’s served over a rich sauce made with cheese from Sonoma. It hits all the notes: rich, creamy, salty, crispy. You may want to order two.

The move is to let them cook for you…

The menu is divided into a few sections. There is a “live tanks” section featuring beautiful shellfish and abalone, for example, and the bread — fluffy, buttery parker house rolls — is a must.

If this is your first time visiting, though, consider the LET US COOK FOR YOU route, an option wherein the kitchen will pick a few items from each section for the table. It starts at $125 per person, with the option for supplements, and requests are politely considered. Definitely want the scallop? Let them know.

“The majority of items served are on the menu with a few unique items that are specials, such as grilled heads and collars,” says Chung.

A recent visit for two included oysters and an amuse to start, followed by bread, salad, three vegetables, three items from the tank (two smaller, and one as a main), two desserts, and a few surprises along the way. (We did the math, and it’s well worth the price of admission if you want to eat lots of things.)

… But if you’re ordering a la carte, take notes here:

If you want to take a more low-key, affordable a la carte approach, a perfectly good order for two would start with the antelope tartare, proceed to the rad red radicchio salad (it requires a bib and a steak knife), then for the main event, the grilled fish with smoked vermouth sauce or the wood-oven roasted chicken with housemade hot sauce along … with the aforementioned Angler Potato for your side.

Save room for dessert, because Angler serves up the best soft serve in San Francisco — it’s luscious, creamy, and served with a caramel sauce cooked over the embers.

Photo: Bonjwing Lee

If you’re splurging, this is a fine place to do it.

Angler brings the same fine dining service and attention to detail as a Michelin three-star, but with a lower buy-in and more options beyond a single tasting menu.

And if it’s your thing: Sometimes you need to celebrate with a little caviar. Angler is the place to do it. Here, it’s served with banana pancakes and embered banana butter to hit those salty-sweet notes with each wonderful bite.

Photo: Bonjwing Lee

What about the drinks?

A pre-meal martini paired with ice cold oysters is a classic combination. Angler’s version of the cocktail features citrusy-forward Japanese gin, dry vermouth, umami bitters and a couple of buttery Castelvetrano olives.

On the wine front, there’s a large list that leans old world and classic. You could go by the glass, but the real pro tip at a place like Angler is to enlist the help of the somm on site — ask them to pick something they’re excited about in the price range you’re comfortable with, something that’ll take you through the meal, and they’ll steer you in the right direction.

There’s no setting quite like this.

Beyond the food, there’s so much that makes Angler special and unique, even in a great dining town like San Francisco.  And whether you’re sitting outside or inside (but especially outside), those gorgeous views of the Bay Bridge are the icing on the cake.

Omar Mamoon is a San Francisco writer, cookie dough professional, and founder of nonprofit Libros Para Todos. Find him at @ommmar 

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