Fresh, tasty seafood is one of the many things the City by the Bay is known for. If your San Francisco vacation idea is finally becoming a reality, don’t forget to sample some of the city’s best seafood cuisine while you’re there. Avoid the tourist traps and taste the best of what San Francisco has at some of these fine seafood restaurants for every taste and budget.
Swan Oyster Depot
Family-owned and operated since 1912, Swan Oyster Depot is a San Francisco institution and one of the city’s most celebrated seafood restaurants. This historical seafood bar inside a fish market at 1517 Polk Street, in the Polk Gulch neighborhood of San Francisco, serves some of the freshest seafood in the city from 8 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Seafood lovers can indulge in a range of dishes, from shrimp salad to Maine lobsters, Boston clam chowder, crab cocktails and smoked trout. Lines form quickly at this popular restaurant. If you don’t get there when they open, you can expect to wait.
This Greek restaurant, at 200 Jackson St. in San Francisco’s Financial District, offers a truly fine dining experience. Kokkari Estiatorio serves traditional Greek dishes alongside seafood specialties like grilled octopus, grilled calamari and whole fish grilled with braised greens, Cretan olive oil and lemon. Try the octopus salad, made with charcoal-grilled octopus and Greek peppers or the local king salmon, served with sweet corn, cherry tomatoes, summer squash and arugula.
Kokkari Estiatorio is open for dinner seven days a week and they serve lunch on weekdays only.
Hyde Street Seafood Restaurant
The Hyde Street Seafood House and Raw Bar, located at 1509 Hyde Street, has been serving classic seafood dishes since 1985. They specialize in preparing fish “en papillotte,” which is a French method of baking in parchment paper with julienned vegetables, fresh herbs and white wine.
Hyde Street Seafood Restaurant’s menu has a wide selection of raw and cooked seafood specialties; whether you’re craving raw oysters or grilled swordfish, there’s something for you. Try the excellent lobster bisque, the potato-crusted king salmon, the Dungeness crab mornay en croute or the baked stuffed rainbow trout. The seafood is local, and the ambiance is intimate and relaxed.
The coastal cuisine of Farallon Restaurant, at 450 Post St. #4 in the Union Square neighborhood, combines classic East Coast seafood recipes with California and French cuisines. Eco-conscious diners will appreciate that the menu identifies most of the ingredients’ origins.
Farallon has been named one of Zagat’s Top Most Popular Restaurants and was nominated by the John Beard Foundation as one of the best restaurants in the country. Try the grilled half Maine lobster served with sweet corn ravioli, English peas and champagne beurre fondue, the roasted Mount Lassen trout with Anson Mills red pea puree, toasted almonds and haricots verts or the Mediterranean shellfish bisque.
If you’re craving a Parisian dining experience, Plouf at 40 Belden Place in the Financial District, specializes in French seafood dishes, mostly those made with shellfish. The experience is so authentically French that the restaurant offers prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner.
The menu consists almost entirely of mussels prepared according to various classic French recipes. Oysters — raw, baked or fried in a cornmeal crust — are also available. Diners can add clams to their mussel entrees if they so choose. Plouf also hosts private events, where diners can choose from braised local rock cod, linguine and roasted winter squash, and steak frites. Diners can also try the house dish, which is Plouf mussels.
PPQ Dungeness Island
Located at 2332 Clement St in San Francisco’s Outer Richmond neighborhood, PPQ Dungeness Island serves some of the city’s freshest crab. The crab and garlic noodles come highly recommended, as do the soft-shell crab, the crab meat-fried rice, and the fish mau and crab meat soup. Seasonal crab specialties include peppercorn crab, drunken crab, roasted crab, spicy crab and curry crab. Try the deep-fried banana for dessert.
No San Francisco vacation is complete without a trip to at least one of the city’s phenomenal restaurants. After a long day of sightseeing, sit down to a delicious meal at some of these renowned restaurants.
Photo credit: Renée S. Suen / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND
About the Author: Contributing blogger Sarah Whiteley holds an MFA in creative writing and has been working as a travel writer for more than 10 years.