When it comes to seafood in the Bay Area, you’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that didn’t have stand-out options.
Luckily for you, we’ve narrowed it down. Here’s where to get the best seafood in San Francisco.
What It Is: Serving up oysters, clam chowder and sustainably-caught fish, shellfish and crab since 1977 on Castro Street.
What Our Inspectors Say: “While the menu may be petite, it's full of fresh fare like a light and flavorful Dungeness crab 'burger' on a sesame bun; Caesar salad combining sweet prawns and tangy anchovy dressing; or a cup of creamy Boston clam chowder loaded with clams and potatoes. As the name portends, raw oysters are a specialty, so briny that the accompanying mignonette may not be necessary. And of course, the cioppino is unmissable as this signature item turns deadly when paired with delicious and buttery garlic bread.”
What It Is: A self-proclaimed “modern raw bar” that has been dishing out oysters and raw fish on Divisadero Street since 2005.
What Our Inspectors Say: “As the name suggests, this seafood haven offers supreme crudos. Whether it’s Arctic char with horseradish crème fraîche, wasabi tobiko and dill; or scallop with sweet corn purée, tarragon oil and popped sorghum, the combos are delicious.”
What It Is: Owners (and sisters) Jazmine and Aluxa Lalicker's oyster bar in the Petaluma Hotel.
What Our Inspectors Say: "Raw items may be the focus, but a handful of fried or baked classics are not to be missed, like oysters Rockefeller laden with Parmesan, Pernod, spinach and cured ham. Round out your feast with something more substantive, like puffy golden hushpuppies filled with shrimp morsels in a light corn batter. Fish tacos are yet another big hit."
What It Is: A fish market and counter-service restaurant set inside an industrial warehouse.
What Our Inspectors Say: “Kick things off with the justifiably beloved lobster-corn chowder, thick with sweet, succulent meat in a rich and creamy-but not overly heavy-stock. (For dedicated fans, frozen to-go quarts are offered.) Then go for broke with the outstanding lobster roll, lightly dressed with mayo on a fluffy, buttery roll and accompanied by excellent house-made potato chips.”
What It Is: A restaurant meets oyster depot in Marin.
What Our Inspectors Say: “If you love oysters, this coastal-chic spot will have you as happy as a clam. Nearly half its menu features these ultra-fresh bivalves plucked straight from nearby Tomales Bay—whether raw, broiled with chili-garlic butter or simmered in a creamy leek stew. If oysters aren't your thing, there’s also plenty of other local seafood to choose from, including crisp-skinned steelhead trout or risotto with clams and uni. Carnivores can opt for a roasted pork chop with collard greens.”
What It Is: The Tomales Bay favorite inside of the Ferry Terminal Building.
What Our Inspectors Say: “You’ll receive all the accompaniments—lemon, Tabasco, mignonette—but they’re good enough to slurp solo. Once you've had your fill, be sure to sample the other aquatic offerings: Peruvian-style crudo with silky sea bass; a hefty bowl of cioppino loaded with prawns, clams, mussels, and squid; and the exceptional Manila clam chowder, a bestseller for good reason. Throw in the expansive Bay views from the patio and dining room, and those lines come as no surprise.”
Hero image courtesy of Hog Island Oyster Co.