On San Francisco’s Embarcadero, opposite the foot of Bryant Street and adjacent to Pier 28 (the official address is Pier 28 1/2), there’s a little place that so completely embraces its status as a classic waterfront dive bar that it actually incorporates the word dive in its name. The Hi-Dive is listed on the official registry of San Francisco’s Legacy Bars and Restaurants, that legacy in this case being that of the Boondocks, a longtime presence on the spot that weathered the extensive renovation of the waterfront that took place subsequent to the demolition of the Embarcadero Freeway. Subsequent new ownership was followed by innovation, however, and it reopened as the Hi-Dive in 2004.
Not really such a dive anymore, it’s a bright, cozy spot with a low-key charm and impressive views of the San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge, just around the bend from AT&T Park, making it a popular stop during baseball season whenever the San Francisco Giants are in town. It sees a brisk business the rest of the year as well, thanks to the restoration of the area and the influx of businesses and residents, and the fact that it’s still one of the more affordable places on the waterfront. Popular with the office crowd after work, the Hi-Dive is also open for lunch during the week and brunch on the weekend, serving typical greasy spoon fare, with an added emphasis on sea food, reflecting its heritage as a bar and grill that primarily served sailors and dock workers..
The bar serves drinks until around midnight most nights, depending on how much business there is, usually a little later on Fridays and Saturdays. The Hi-Dive typically pulls in a pretty lively crowd in the evenings and has been known to really pack them in, accommodating more people than such a compact space would allow for with its Portside patio, which makes the most of terrific views. They serve a highly regarded Bloody Mary, particularly welcome if you’re coming in for brunch after closing the place the night before.
Writer J. Eric Miller has never been to sea. The furthest he’s ever been in a boat was to Sausalito, during which trip he discovered that travel by boat does not incorporate panhandlers or fare inspectors and that San Francisco looks better at a slight distance.