Most of us don't expect too much of restaurants around tourist hot spots – we're there for the sites; the eats take the back burner. But the Round House Café, a circular art deco building overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, is its own landmark worth visiting. And, more importantly, it provides dependable and affordable hot food and refreshing beverages for hungry and thirsty travelers, just like it did back in its earliest days.
In 1938, one year after the iconic International Orange symbol and beacon for San Francisco opened, the Round House became a roadside diner. Situated adjacent to the bridge toll plaza, the cafe quickly became a popular establishment with tourists and locals who enjoyed getting a quick, reliable bite while viewing remarkable vistas just outside its rounded glass walls. After decades as a restaurant, the café closed and the space went through various iterations over the years – first as office space, then a center for guided tours and a gift shop. But in 2015, the Round House Café reopened as a casual, family-friendly eatery.
True to its mid-century roots, the Round House Café serves up American classics, like hot dogs and apple pie, but stepped up a notch. The clam chowder is served in a sourdough bread bowl from the city's oldest and most famous sourdough maker, Boudin Bakery. And the baked treats are freshly made by City Baking Company in South San Francisco and Christine's Upper Crust Pies in San Rafael.
Round House Café can be found at the southeast foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Biking, walking, and public transit are the best ways to get here, as parking is very limited in the immediate area.