After a huge renovation, San Francisco's oceanfront icon is wowing diners again

Harriot Manley

Perched on Point Lobos, waves banging at its base, Cliff Houserestaurant has always boasted some of San Francisco's best realestate. But over time the 1909 building had taken on a dowdyair.

No more. Working with the National Park Service (the propertystewards), owner Dan Hountalas has transformed the landmark with an$18 million renovation. Now wide public terraces ― great forseal- and whale-watching this month through March ― sweeparound three sides of the Cliff House. The refurbished originalbuilding houses a bistro and to-go counter, and a new, ultramodernnorth wing encloses the posh and excellent Sutro's restaurant.Feeling nostalgic for the way things were? Camera Obscura stillhunkers outside. Besides, the Cliff House's main attraction hasn'tchanged: As Hountalas says, you can "stand out here, watch thewaves and fog, and never get bored."

INFO: Cliff House Bistro ($$$) serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch;Cliff House ToGo ($) offers sandwiches and coffee; and Sutro's ($$$$; reservations recommended) serves lunch and dinner.Parking is free along the street and in nearby lots. 1090 Point Lobos Ave., San Francisco; www.cliffhouse.com or415/386-3330.

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