Monday, May 03, 2010

Seafood in San Francisco

I frequently get questions about where to go for good seafood in San Francisco.  Many visitors want to dine at Fisherman's Wharf but, like many locals, I never go there to eat.  There's way too much mediocre to bad food.  If people really want to dine at the Wharf, I recommend, McCormick and Kuleto's at Ghirardelli Square or Scoma's at Pier 47.  The former is part of the McCormick and Schmick's chain.  I've eaten there a couple times and the food is fine but I get very inconsistent reports from my guests.  The latter is a San Francisco institution.  The food is best when simple.  You'll do ok with a piece of grilled fish but be careful with complex dishes.

If you've heard of Aqua, the former Michelin two-star restaurant, it's closed.  So for more upscale seafood, try Waterbar on The Embarcadero near the Bay Bridge.  You'll pay for the bay view and the floor to ceiling fish tanks, but the food is good.  Farallon is a well-reviewed restaurant for upscale seafood.  I can't get past the jellyfish chandelier so I've never been.  I get mixed reports from my guests.

For casual seafood, I like Anchor and Hope in SOMA, Pesce on upper Polk Street, and Nettie's Crab Shack in Cow Hollow.  Anchor and Hope serves a variety of fresh seafood in a nice atmosphere; busy but not overwhelming.  The beer list is one of the better ones in San Francisco.  Pesce serves small plates of Venetian influenced seafood in a vibrant atmosphere.  Nettie's takes an east coast institution, the crab shack; cleans it up; and gives the food the California treatment.  This means you get fresh seafood in a nice setting at prices far above what an Easterner would expect from a crab shack.

If you like grilled fish dishes, then visit the Hayes Street Grill in Hayes Valley.  There are also other seafood as well as meat dishes.  This restaurant has been among the better seafood restaurants in San Francisco for 30 years.

If you like raw oysters and such, then try Hog Island Oyster at the Ferry Building or Swan Oyster Depot in Polk Gulch.  The ambiance is far nicer at the former.

Lastly, for ethnic seafood try Brindisi or Plouf on Belden Place for Italian or French seafood.  Both are pretty good.  I love mussels and fries so tend to head to Plouf.  

Many people swear by Tadich Grill, an old school fish restaurant, but I don't get it.  Having surly waiters throw a plain piece of fish in front of me is not my idea of a good meal.  Perhaps others have had better experiences.

While certainly not all encompassing, I hope this gives you a good overview of your seafood options in San Francisco.

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