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    The Trident: Still Groovy a Generation Later

    By David Landis, The Gay Gourmet–

    It’s more than 50 years after the Summer of Love but Sausalito’s The Trident restaurant and bar is still groovy, more than a generation later.

    Sitting on the dock overlooking San Francisco Bay (to quote a song from that era) and with a stunning view of the city skyline, The Trident evokes the halcyon beat generation and hippie days of the 1950s and ’60s, with a history to match. Built in 1898 to house the San Francisco Yacht Club, the restaurant came into its own when the famed Kingston Trio bought what was then a jazz club called the Yacht Dock in 1960.

    Photos Courtesy of The Trident

    Around 1966, with the hippie movement in full swing, the club evolved into The Trident as a natural food restaurant and entertainment venue. Notable celebrities at the time made it their go-to hangout, including: Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, the Smothers Brothers, and Bill Graham, to name a few.

    And did you know that The Trident’s bartender, “liquor legend” Bobby Lozoff, re-invented the Tequila Sunrise at the restaurant in the early 1970s? He created the new version specifically for the visiting Rolling Stones, who then promoted it on their national “cocaine and tequila sunrise” tour.

    The Trident closed in 1976 and became Horizons restaurant in 1980. Recently, I spoke with owner Bob Freeman, who since 2001 also has owned the historic Buena Vista Café in San Francisco. Prior to The Trident, he founded the successful Victoria Station and California Café chains. “I had my company buy the Trident restaurant lease in 1997,” explains Freeman, “as well as 20% of the building. I myself took it over in 2001 and operated it as Horizons, with the upstairs, Ondine, becoming a banquet space. Then, I took over full ownership of the building in 2003. In 2012, I closed and renovated the downstairs (uncovering the long-hidden ceiling murals that restored the 1960s patina) and turned it back into The Trident.” Currently, the Ondine space is being leased out and will become a new restaurant later this fall.

    As you enter the establishment, psychedelic murals, 70s wood interiors, and posters from a bygone musical era punctate the décor of this history-laden spot. But it’s the panoramic view that dominates, visible from the moment you hit the host stand. While the interior is iconic, I always opt to sit outside on the deck. The fresh sea air, the views of the Bay—as well as an occasional dolphin or sea lion sighting—make for a mini-vacation, just minutes over the Golden Gate Bridge. Plus, it’s exceptionally dog-friendly.

    One could just continue to rave about the view—but then there’s the food. We’ve visited several times recently, always during the day for lunch to enjoy the vistas. Worthy standouts include oysters that change constantly, depending on what’s fresh. On our last visit, we sampled sweetwater oysters: deliciously creamy, midsize, and accompanied by an inventive mignonette with onion, pepper, and cilantro. The horseradish devilled eggs are a great starter, and can be enhanced with bacon, caviar, or Dungeness crab.

    When it’s available, the local stone crab cocktail is my personal favorite. It’s from Tomales Bay and the lump meat is sweet and tasty. The fish tacos are always a winner. They come three to an order, perfect for sharing. Made with Pacific Corvina sea bass, the tacos are topped with a mango salsa, and accompanied by a spicy Fresno slaw on the side. I’m also a big fan of the fresh Petrale sole, often on special, served with lemon, capers, white wine sauce, fresh veggies, and crema corn. I haven’t tried it yet, but I’ve also heard good things about the Trident’s cioppino.

    If you’re visiting on Fridays, the restaurant has an “aloha” menu with the traditional Hawaiian plate lunch, sticky ribs, and a special Trident rum punch. Speaking of which, the beverage menu at The Trident is extensive, with numerous craft cocktails and a wide selection of beers and wines. We generally choose the Fleurs de Prairie still rosé wine from Provence, but I’m also partial to the Trident’s Ramos Fizz (and the Tequila Sunrise is a must). Service is always amenable, friendly, and attentive.

    The Trident is also a favorite of my fellow San Francisco Bay Times columnist, Jan Wahl, who loves the restaurant’s salmon tartare, Sausalito Louis with crab and shrimp, and the celebrated Irish Coffee (invented and made famous by their sister restaurant, the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco).

    If you’re driving, The Trident offers another plus: on-site valet parking, and they validate—quite important in jam-packed downtown Sausalito.

    As a final gift from The Trident, here’s their famous Tequila Sunrise recipe, invented by the mighty mixologist Bobby Lozoff.

    Bobby Lozoff’s Tequila Sunrise (from The Trident)

    1 part Jose Cuervo Especial Silver
    2 parts orange juice
    1 tsp grenadine 

    1. Pour tequila and orange juice into a glass, over ice.
    2. Slowly pour in grenadine. 
    3. Enjoy in a way the Rolling Stones would approve of.

    Bits and Bites

    Alexander’s Steakhouse has just opened a new offshoot, Afici, with Chef Eric Upper. Located in the South of Market district, the fixed-price restaurant “showcases contemporary American cuisine with influences from French and Italian flavors.”

    The former Sir Francis Drake Hotel, now re-christened the Beacon Grand, is offering “spirit tasting experiences,” including: Amador whiskey nights on Saturdays, Hennessy cocktail “Fireside Chats” on Thursdays, and “Bubbles, Barrels and Tea” featuring champagne, hot tea, and barrel-aged cocktails and food pairings on Saturdays in October and November.

    I’ve heard good things about Bear, the fine dining restaurant at the new Stanly Ranch (part of the Auberge Resorts Collection) in Napa. The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Garrison Price, who previously worked at Il Florista in New York.

    To honor the heroic first responders on the 2-year anniversary of the Glass Fire, Davis Estates Winery has dedicated its 2020 Davis Estates chardonnay to local firefighters. It is called the “Thank You First Responders Chardonnay”; 50% of the proceeds will be donated to Napa Valley firehouses. Because of winemaking conditions during the fires, this chardonnay has no new oak and was finished in stainless steel tanks, which gives it a more crisp, acidic, and refreshing flavor profile. 

    To celebrate the history and tradition of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cakebread Cellars hosts its annual Cabernet Day on Saturday, November 12, with barrel tastings, winemaker talks, samples of the vineyard’s new reserve wines, and food/wine pairings.

    Seems like yesterday since they opened, but E&O Kitchen and Bar (one of the city’s first modern Asian restaurants) in San Francisco’s Union Square just celebrated 25 years. Congratulations!

    In honor ofBreast Cancer Awareness Month, Convite Una is a special release from the best-selling Oaxacan Mezcal Convite. Owner Hotaling & Co. will donate 10 percent of every bottle sold to the Mexican breast cancer charity, FUCAM.

    Chef & Pitmaster Matt Horn of Horn Barbecue in Oakland announced his latest project, “The Academy of Smoke.” The youth program for local Bay Area children launches next spring. The initiative “empowers and inspires kids through the craft of barbecue.” Boys & girls, ages 8–12 years, are encouraged to apply for a 4–6-week program aimed at teaching the history, craft, and art of barbecue, fire management and safety, and cooking. Applicants are asked to share a paragraph-page on why they would like to attend The Academy of Smoke and a bit about themselves. Chef Horn will select a group to join the 4–6-week program, all expenses paid.

    The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia has a new executive chef. CIA alum Dominic Orsini has come back to his original stomping grounds to provide culinary oversight and menu planning for its restaurants, including The Grove and the Lunch Box. A seasoned chef with more than 20 years of experience under his belt, Orsini served nearly 15 years as executive chef at Silver Oak Winery.

    LINE hotel just opened in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, with four distinct dining and drinking options: three at the ground-floor (Tenderheart, Alfred Coffee, and Dark Bar); and a panoramic rooftop restaurant, Rise Over Run, above Market Street on the property’s twelfth floor.

    American Express Gold Card and Resy present The Dim Sum Experience, coming to San Francisco’s Mister Jiu’s on November 19. Acclaimed Chinese chefs coast-to-coast provide their interpretation of a one-of-a-kind dim sum experience. In San Francisco, that would be award-winning chef Brandon Jew, who will work alongside Nom Wah, owner of Nom Wah Tea Parlor, New York’s first dim sum restaurant.

    Many of my loyal readers know that I got my start in my food career first as a guest on KQED’s Check Please! Bay Area. One of my citizen co-hosts, the ebullient chef and cookbook author Illyanna Maisonet (who now lives in Sacramento), has just come out with a new book all about Puerto Rican cooking. Titled Diasporican, the book contains (according to its publisher, Penguin Random House), “over 90 delicious, deeply personal recipes that tell the story of Puerto Rico’s stateside diaspora from the United States’ first Puerto Rican food columnist, award-winning writer Illyanna Maisonet.” It’s available at your local independent bookstore or through Amazon.

    The Trident:
    Beacon Grand: 
    Bear at Stanly Ranch:
    Davis Estates Winery:
    Cakebread Cellars:
    E&O Kitchen and Bar:
    Convite Una:
    Horn Barbecue:
    The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Copia:
    Line Hotel in San Francisco:
    The Dim Sum Experience:

    Diasporican: Landis, aka “The Gay Gourmet,” is a foodie, a freelance writer, and a retired PR maven. Follow him on Instagram @GayGourmetSF or email him at: Or visit him online at:

    The Gay Gourmet
    Published on October 20, 2022