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Best fish restaurants in SF?

Any suggestions would be welcomed as I've not been there in a few years.

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  1. I like Taddich Grill, both for the old school San Francisco feel as well as the great fish.

    1. Best Panda
      Bodega Bistro
      Hayes St. Grill
      Hog Island Oyster Co.
      South Sea Seafood Harbor
      Woodhouse Fish Co.
      Yuet Lee
      Fish. (Sausalito)
      Koi Palace (Daly City)
      Sea Salt (Berkeley)

      Damn, now I'm hungry.

      13 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        GREAT list! I'd add Thanh Long and Aqua... though no-one ever described either of them as a bargain, they are both very intersting and good.

        1. re: Paul H

          From recent reports, Thanh Long is no longer good.

        2. re: Robert Lauriston

          Hog Island? What kind of fish dishes do they serve? I always thought it was strictly oysters?


          1. re: J T

            Right, just oysters and clams. I was thinking seafood.

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            I vote for Robert's list and would also add Farallon if an expense account is in the picture. While the decor is a bit "wish they'd stopped 30 minutes earlier" (think Jules Verne with a sub-therapeutic lithium level) the rooms are comfortable. The further back you go, the better you'll be able to enjoy conversation and the less silly the lighting.

            I had one of the best grilled branzino meals, if not the best, of my life here. The shellfish are super fresh and have that oceany-clean scent and taste that is so satisfying. I've found equal attention is paid to the non-ocean derived food as well. Crisp and flavorful salad greens and veggie sides, which I always appreciate, as they are not a given in a seafood place. I can't recall having dessert there...perhaps never made it that far.

            Aqua, while also good, I've found to be more uneven. Plus, we had to borrow Maxwell Smart's Cone of Silence to enjoy dinner conversation. Super loud.

              1. re: snarkygirl

                We found Farallon to be almost insultingly bad. To pay those prices for such underwhelming food just made me sick. Great atmosphere, really, really poor work in the kitchen. I find it hard to believe that our experience was a rare exception, as every dish on the table was mediocre.

                Sorry to seem grumpy, but that place felt like a world-class rip-off.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                Would also add Michael Mina. See my post on Littleman's thread about dining near the St. Francis.

                1. re: snarkygirl

                  Michael Mina has a lot of seafood and fish dishes on the menu, but so do the majority of upscale restaurants in the city.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Could you add an address for the SF choices? Hayes St. excepted.

                  1. re: Marco

                    You can find most any restaurant address on Google Maps with a search string like:

                    hog island near san francisco


                    1. re: Joan Kureczka

                      Not to my list. Its popularity mystifies me.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        I'm with Joan. Pacific Cafe is a favorite of mine and my wife's, but I can see how it might not hit with some folks. They're a pretty no-frills place--you don't get a lot of sauces and reductions or food piled on top of other food. They do basic fish--salmon, snapper, halibut, tuna, crab, trout, abalone--in basic ways--grilled, pan fried, baked, to name a few--but the do it really well and very consistently (ymmv). They also have various other fish available occasionally based on availability (mussels, sturgeon, sand dabs) and generally if they have one of those on the menu, that's what I get. And during crab season, their Louis is not to be passed up. Their soups are all house-made--the salmon bisque, when they have it in the summer, is fabulous, full of cream--and the clam chowder, made with potatoes rather than cream is always good.

                        There's always a wait most nights--they have their fans who show up in legions--but they placate the masses with free cheap wine while you wait, and I've had some interesting conversations with my fellow diners while hanging out on the sidewalk.

                        As I said, it's not everyone's idea of a great place, but the folks who love it, really love it. (One possible reaason: their prices are quite reasonable, generally upper teens to mid-twenties, save for the abalone, which is in the upper $30 range.)

                        1. re: Jimmyhoffa

                          If I thought they cooked fish well and consistently I'd have no trouble understanding their popularity.

                    2. While only a counter and cold plates (minus chowder), Swan's Oyster Depot on Polk St. is pretty damn good.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ML8000

                        Swan's is a good choice for very basic fare. Sort of the "meat and potatoes" of seafood. No delicate preparations, no complimenting sauces, and for me, not better than the husband can make at home.

                        1. re: snarkygirl

                          You have a point, nothing fancy. It is a counter with four joe fishmongers serving you. I'm guessing however Swan's has a line on fresher selection and that's 3/4 the battle with seafood.

                          1. re: ML8000

                            Agree. Husband believes it's the freshest in the city.

                      2. "The House" on Grant Ave.

                        1. I second a vote for Fish in Sausalito. Ain't cheap, but boy is it fresh and amazingly tasty.

                          1. Recommend Cafe Maritime on Lombard. Not on the tourist path, plus Mark is a great host. Each time feels like going home.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: natalie

                              Keeping in mind the title of the thread, we're very interested in fish, noticeably less so in shellfish (except for crab). Is Cafe Maritime a good choice? The reviews I've read here are either uneven or dated.
                              Based on our need to stay in the city itself and reviews I've read, our choices seem to be dwindling. At the moment, the list includes Hayes Street Grill, Pesce, and South Sea Seafood (or Tadich, I suppose)?

                              1. re: Gypsy Boy

                                Don't dismiss Tadich if you order right. It is a great SF experience. I like Hayes Street, but it is a simple prep.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  I will be more than happy to consider Tadich on any one of a number of grounds. What concerns me only is (a) getting in (which I suppose can be solved by going early enough) and (b) knowing what to avoid/what to order. Are the fish preparations generally safe? Only if grilled? Only pan-fried? Any advice?

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Yeah and cioppino ... best I've had so far ... and probably one of the better versions of sourdough in the area. The original bakery went under, but restaurants like Tadich have their own recipes that the current bakery duplicates. Really, for a unique to SF experience, this is it. Get some oysters from Hog Island before hand and then walk a few blocks to Tadich for dinner.

                                    2. re: Gypsy Boy

                                      Here's an old post from Chicago's Rob "Vital Information" if that helps you make up your mind.

                              2. Whenever I visit my hometown, I make sure that I do two things: visit the gorillas at the zoo and eat at Farallon. I especially like their raw offerings -- super fresh and tasty. This seems to be a controversial choice, but I can't see why. Every visit has been sublime.

                                  1. re: Chubby

                                    i second that, excellent seafood and on the interesting side.

                                  2. there is also yabbie's in russian hill. Don't remember any recent reviews, except it is changing hands.

                                    someone recently reported that they were as happy as ever with Sam's Grill.

                                    Pacific cafe does pretty pedestrian, but folks like the free wine whilst waiting.

                                    Alamo Square also seemed pedestrian, but looked like a popular local spot for families.

                                    I had some great sole at North Beach restaurant.

                                    But i hit on an awesome halibut recipe, so cooking at home.

                                    1. I had one of the great, simple fish lunches of my life at FISH in Sausalito a few weeks ago. Grilled Hamachi on sourdough roll, slaw (lime juice, cabbage, jalapenos) on the side, great french fries, great Anchor Steam beer.

                                      My wife's grilled Vietnamese salmon sandwich was just as good, and the fried okra with mustard dipping sauce was extraordinary.

                                      Fish is the ticket. Not much atmosphere, but big flavors, freshness, and nice portions.

                                      1. Pescheria (Italian Seafood) in Noe Valley just got a great review in the Sunday paper... never quite sure how to take Michael Bauer's ratings... but sounds quite interesting and maybe worth the trek...

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: shnigglebob

                                          Good point about Bauer, and well-put. Not really sure what he's thinking sometimes....