Breakfast at the Ferry Terminal, San Francisco

The San Francisco Ferry Building.

The other day, I read a post about a woman having breakfast at the San Francisco Ferry Building Marketplace.

And, oh, if it wasn’t the cutest thing ever.

The gal talked about how she grabbed a coffee and a pastry. Naturally, when reading the post, I figured she was just talking about her pre-breakfast pastry. You know, the one you eat before you actually have a real breakfast. It can be a cookie, or a cupcake, or a leftover brownie or some sort of frosting-laden danish. It tides you over until you can have your actual breakfast – or second-breakfast, as Rand and I and most hobbits call it – which usually consists of eggs and bacon and fruit and more pastries (obviously).

So you can imagine my horror when I kept reading on and SHE HAD NO SECOND BREAKFAST. Her single, teeny-tiny pastry was the only thing she ate.

I was suitably horrified.

Breakfast is SACRED. Breakfast is MAGICAL. Breakfast is the only meal where you are guaranteed that bacon will be on the menu (I mean, obviously it should be available for lunch and dinner, too, but sometimes the world is a sick and cruel place where bacon is unavailable after 11am). At breakfast, you can justifiably EAT CAKE AND NO ONE WILL JUDGE YOU. Sure, it’s usually accompanied with the prefix pan- or the word coffee in front of it, but don’t kid yourselves – you are eating cake FOR A MEAL. It is wonderful. And this poor woman had gotten it all wrong.

She was nibbling on the corner of a quarter-sized cookie and claimed she was satisfied. No, no, no, no, no, no.

I had to rectify this. So while Rand was off doing work-related things, I went to the Ferry Building to see if I could do a better job than she.

And even though I deviated from my traditional pre-breakfast-pastry-followed-by-actual-breakfast-which-may-also-include-a-pastry format, I’d like to think that I did.

I had no desire to do a formal, sit-down sort of meal (I’d left my evening gown at home, anyway) and wanted food that I could eat while roaming around. Oh, and I’m not a coffee drinker, so forgive me when I tell you that the only beverage I had was water (for those of you insisting on a review: it was very … watery. I was pleased).

Since my casual, walking-through-the-market breakfast meant I couldn’t have bacon – because for some reason, my idea of bacon kiosks has NOT caught on – I opted for the next best thing: salty cured meats. Boccalone has them by the refrigerator full.

I really like their tagline, which is brutally honest is a kind of way that would make vegetarians cringe.


I got the cone of meat. It’s kind of like the Cone of Silence, except not at all. Also, it was much tastier. It consists of three different salumi and cured meats, which change daily. I wasn’t happy with that day’s offerings (which included mortadella, a meat I’m pretty sure was designed to punish children), so I built my own. I went for the house-made lonza (a cured pork loin which is kind of like a dark, rich prosciutto), the spicy capicollo, and a fennel salami.

As has often been my experience as Boccalone, they were all excellent. The capicollo was buttery and spicy, the fennel salami surprisingly mild, and the lonza salty and firm (and my personal favorite of the bunch).

Clockwise, from top left: fennel salami, housemade lonza, spicy capicolla

I purchased a small pack of grissini – thin, crunchy Italian breadsticks – as well, and spent a few happy minutes wrapping the thin slices of meat around the sticks and devouring them. It was salty and delicious and totally unorthodox for breakfast. From there, I decided to go more traditional.

Outside the Village Market is a small stand where you can purchase pastries.

The name is delightfully punny, too:

Let’s Get Sconed!

Despite the fact that it was called Get Sconed, I didn’t get one of their scones, even though they looked delicious. Studded with all kinds of berries and sprinkled with sugar.

Though now I kinda wish I had tried one. You know … for the sake of journalistic integrity and all.

Instead I opted for what they called cannoli, but which more closely approximated a cream-filled cylindrical doughnut. No matter, though – it was delicious. If there were any criticisms to be made, I’d say the doughnut was a little chewier and not as fresh-tasting as I would have liked, but the custard filling was stellar – smooth and not too rich or too sweet (they had chocolate, too, but you guys know how conflicted I am about chocolate).

I demolished that sucker. I contemplated going back for another one, but I was afraid that the woman would recognize me since I’d been there, like, 15 seconds prior.

Salty pork? Check. Cream-laden pastry? Check. I needed to balance things out with some fruit. Fortunately, there were tons of produce vendors right outside of the Ferry Terminal.

I bought some blackberries for three dollars, and crammed them into my mouth before my tastebuds could realize they weren’t another cream-filled doughnut. The berries were lovely, but let’s be fair: fruit can’t compare to pastries, and it’s kind of sad when it tries to.

I sat by a bench with a view of the Bay Bridge, and there I finished my breakfast.

For those of you alarmed at the teeny-tininess of this piecemeal meal, fear not. I met Rand some 45 minutes later, and we got soft serve ice cream. Mine was dipped in a thick layer of chocolate, putting to shame the Dairy Queen dip cones of my childhood (there is no photographic evidence of this, because I refused to hand my cone to Rand – even for a second – in order to pull my camera out).

And that, my friends, is how you do breakfast in San Francisco.

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  • Sammi

    ah this is totally on my to do list when i get to visit san francisco. i defintely want to eat tasty salted pig parts from a place so brutally honest!

  • Melanie

    The first thing I thought of when I read the title of the post was, “MEAT IN A CUP!” I avoid touristy parts of SF like the plague, except the ferry building. I freaking love that place. And mostly meat in a cup. ‘Cause it makes me think of pizza in a cup. And that makes me happy.

    Those cannoli look awesome. I’ve never had one of those.

  • Susanna

    Thank you for restoring breakfast back to its former glory. Bacon, carbs, and a tiny side of fruit. Ugh, you are making me jealous beyond belief with all the SF nostalgia. Please tell me you have visited Bi-Rite Creamery and get some sea salt caramel ice cream for me.


  • cosmoHalliton

    In all my visits to SF I have somehow managed to miss the ferry building. I’ve seen it from Coit Tower but never trekked down to check it out. Huh. Thanks for showing me what I’ve been missing! This oversight will be rectified on my next visit for sure.

  • Kristina Cline

    Great, now I want to go to SF, and that isn’t on my list of things to do this year. 3 dollars for blackberries seems a tad pricey, but those are some huge blackberries.

  • Julias Shaw

    There is a restaurant just a couple of (large) blocks from the Ferry Building that I dream of.

    Ahhh yes, dreams of baskets overflowing with mini muffins and pastries cooked to perfection… Bacon with just the right level of crispness… and, miracle of miracles, a granola with yogurt and fruit that is sinfully delicious *and* lets me pretend to be eating healthy. I recommend ordering it with a side of the bacon.

    The best thing is… this isn’t a dream. You owe it to yourself to try out Town’s End Restaurant & Bakery. They are right where Townsend meets the bay.

    When I lived in San Francisco I would eat breakfast there 2 or 3 times a week. It gets quite busy on the weekend so you may have a wait then, but weekdays you can swoop right in and gorge yourself. Mmmm blissful gorging.

  • Andrea

    I love going to the Ferry Terminal when I visit SF, but now I feel as though I’ve missed something substantial having never tasted the cone of meat.

  • Lauren

    So glad to hear about another faithful eater of 2nd breakfast.
    You and your blog make me smile. Thank you.

  • Julia

    This post makes me homesick! Love how you ate your way through the Ferry Building. I can now live through you vicariously all the way in Turkey!

  • Jeannie

    Breakfast is definitely my favorite meal, and this sounds like a stellar one! Love the name Let’s Get Sconed and the salty pig parts tagline! And those doughnuts…I may be replicating your menu on my trip to San Fran this Sept.

  • Katie Hammel

    I love the Ferry Building (I tried my first and last oyster there when I moved to the city), and Boccalone, which I usually pair with Acme bread and some Cowgirl Creamery cheese. I’ve seen the pastry table but never bought anything – looks good though! – because instead I’m stuffing my face with the ham and cheese empanadas from El Porteno. There really is so much good stuff there I don’t see how anyone could go and just have one tiny pastry!

  • Emily McGee

    I’m curious about your feelings on second lunch and second dinner, which I frequently imbibe in. I’m not a big breakfast fan, but I usually eat two lunches a day, just because I can. Do you do double lunch? Even if it doesn’t involve pastries?

    • Everywhereist

      I have no problem with either of those.

  • Bruce

    Anywhere you find a Polish population you will find great cannolis.

  • Laura

    Haha I love your take on the pre-breakfast pastry. Hilarious, as always. This post reminded me how much I absolutely love the Ferry Building — although I’m astonished you didn’t stop by Miette! It’s the most decadent little pastry shop with Parisian macarons, cupcakes, cookies and (my favorite) chewy Fleur de Sel caramels. You’ll have to scope it out next time. 🙂

    • Ashley

      Oh my gosh, yes. Miette’s sweets are a MUST (love that ginger cupcake). I bought one of those salted caramels — and immediately kicked myself for not buying a bucketful.

  • Dawn Shepard

    I’m a late riser and often don’t know what meal I’m on. Some meals, like “dinner” can last for hours. One dessert leads to another to a salty snack then to cheese then back to dessert. I can add up “meals” faster than promotion for the kardashians.

  • Brian

    I’ve been living in San Francisco for a year now and have never made it out to the Ferry Building before nighttime. I’ll have to rectify this very soon!

    Also, here in San Francisco, bacon kiosks are unnecessary because we have this gem:

  • Nemo

    Ah breakfast! I forgot how good it could be, plus in my thinking – if you have a ‘unhealthy’ breakfast, it’s more or less worked off by evening if you’re walking round doing a lot of touristy stuff….right?
    Will definitely check the places out that you mentioned if ever I get to go to San Francisco!

  • Natalie T.

    The Ferry Building was one of my favourite places in San Francisco. I now regret that I didn’t get to Boccalone the first time. But you bet your charcuterie board, that I’ll be going this time around! So excited. My favourites are Cowgirl Creamery (have you had their chocolate milk?) and Miette’s pot de creme. And why they aren’t pot de creme specialists anywhere, I don’t know. This needs to be the new mandatory dessert.

  • Julia

    My favorite place to eat! I usually go on Saturday when the exterior of the building is lined with vendors. One Saturday two years ago, my son and I had the $100 continental breakfast in our hotel room across the street, before making our way to the Ferry Building where, for $7, I had 2 homemade tamales, black beans, rice and a fried dessert thingy…then went back for a 3rd tamale.