I am all for kitsch—I love me some tiki bars, bars that look like caves, bars with owlsâ¦ and taxidermy is all about bonus points in my book. Sadly, as time marches on, kitsch continues to disappear around the city. Fortunately, one person keeping it alive is Forbes Thor Kiddoo, the Gilligan of ~FORBES ISLAND~, a huge self-propelled houseboat island of sorts. There is a “beach,” a waterfall, palm trees, even a 40-foot lighthouse. Below water is a nautical dining room and bar, which was part of Forbes’s original floating home dating back to 1975—the island as it is now moved to Pier 39 in 1999.
Now, I’m not one for hanging out a lot at Pier 39 (I know, shocker). BUT, the next time you’re looking for an unexpected place to have a drink, and are up for a little kooky adventure, this place is it. You end up catching a boat just to the left of Pier 39—the 27-person boat is often manned by Forbes himself, who will shuttle you on over to the island. It’s only four minutes, don’t worry, it’s not like you are going to Alcatraz. (Wave to the seals, but watch out for the rogue one.) The shuttle comes by every half an hour, or you can call on the grey phone for a pick-up. I think there’s a small shuttle fee of $3. (Oh, and there’s validated parking for $8 at the main Pier 39 garage—super easy.)
Now, most people come here for dinner, to dine on some Frenchie classics like steamed mussels, duck breast, and rack of lamb. Instead, I parked myself at the tiny bar, where the suave Pierre can shake up a fabulous martini for you, or you can sip some champers or vino. Order apps like the wild mushroom ragout with goat cheese ($14) if you’re peckishâ¦ the mushroom and broccoli puff ($7) hit the spot too. The room itself is quite lovely, with lots of wood, elegant paneling, and vintage artwork and artifacts. And yes, there are portholes with a view into the water. The island does rock a little, so if you’re a queasy type, you might want to stay on terra firma (or take some Dramamine).
Don’t miss a climb to the top of the lighthouse (quite gorg at sunset). There are some above-water private rooms, like the sea lion room and the Tahiti room, if you’re seeking a groovy private party location. Heck, you can even rent the entire island! Ahoy!
B/w Piers 39 and 41
San Francisco, CA