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Best fish restaurants in SF?

osomiel Aug 25, 2006 07:33 PM

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

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  1. k
    Kristine RE: osomiel Aug 25, 2006 07:43 PM

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

    1. Robert Lauriston RE: osomiel Aug 25, 2006 07:45 PM

      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
        Paul H RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 25, 2006 08:56 PM

        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
          Robert Lauriston RE: Paul H Aug 25, 2006 08:58 PM

          From recent reports, Thanh Long is no longer good.

        2. re: Robert Lauriston
          J T RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 25, 2006 09:36 PM

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


          1. re: J T
            Robert Lauriston RE: J T Aug 25, 2006 09:47 PM

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

          2. re: Robert Lauriston
            snarkygirl RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2006 12:34 AM

            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
              lintygmom RE: snarkygirl Aug 26, 2006 05:04 PM

              Funny! Great post!

              1. re: snarkygirl
                uptown jimmy RE: snarkygirl Jan 19, 2007 05:41 PM

                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
                snarkygirl RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2006 12:56 AM

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

                1. re: snarkygirl
                  Robert Lauriston RE: snarkygirl Aug 26, 2006 03:11 AM

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

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston
                    snarkygirl RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2006 11:48 PM

                    True. My bad.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston
                  Marco RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2006 02:02 PM

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

                  1. re: Marco
                    Robert Lauriston RE: Marco Aug 26, 2006 06:15 PM

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

                    hog island near san francisco


                  2. re: Robert Lauriston
                    Robert Lauriston RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 26, 2006 06:56 PM

                    Oops, maybe strike South Sea Seafood:


                  3. j
                    Joan Kureczka RE: osomiel Aug 25, 2006 09:21 PM

                    Add Pacific Cafe on Geary.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Joan Kureczka
                      Robert Lauriston RE: Joan Kureczka Aug 25, 2006 09:25 PM

                      Not to my list. Its popularity mystifies me.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
                        Jimmyhoffa RE: Robert Lauriston Aug 27, 2006 01:44 AM

                        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
                          Robert Lauriston RE: Jimmyhoffa Aug 27, 2006 03:00 AM

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

                    2. m
                      ML8000 RE: osomiel Aug 25, 2006 09:23 PM

                      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
                        snarkygirl RE: ML8000 Aug 26, 2006 12:44 AM

                        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
                          ML8000 RE: snarkygirl Aug 26, 2006 02:08 AM

                          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
                            snarkygirl RE: ML8000 Aug 26, 2006 11:54 PM

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

                      2. g
                        gfsf RE: osomiel Aug 25, 2006 09:36 PM

                        "The House" on Grant Ave.

                        1. k
                          KurtW RE: osomiel Aug 25, 2006 09:47 PM

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

                          1. n
                            natalie RE: osomiel Aug 26, 2006 01:07 AM

                            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
                              Gypsy Boy RE: natalie Jan 19, 2007 12:17 PM

                              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
                                rworange RE: Gypsy Boy Jan 19, 2007 05:10 PM

                                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
                                  Gypsy Boy RE: rworange Jan 19, 2007 05:55 PM

                                  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: Gypsy Boy
                                    Robert Lauriston RE: Gypsy Boy Jan 19, 2007 05:57 PM

                                    Get the sand dabs.

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston
                                      rworange RE: Robert Lauriston Jan 19, 2007 07:00 PM

                                      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
                                      Melanie Wong RE: Gypsy Boy Jan 20, 2007 03:27 AM

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

                              2. pikawicca RE: osomiel Aug 26, 2006 01:15 AM

                                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. c
                                  Chubby RE: osomiel Aug 26, 2006 04:39 AM

                                  Bar Crudo has crudo, chowder and mussels.


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Chubby
                                    Lori SF RE: Chubby Jan 20, 2007 04:55 PM

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

                                  2. h
                                    himbeer RE: osomiel Aug 26, 2006 05:18 AM

                                    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. r
                                      rruben1 RE: osomiel Aug 27, 2006 03:16 AM

                                      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. shnigglebob RE: osomiel Jan 22, 2007 02:18 AM

                                        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
                                          uptown jimmy RE: shnigglebob Jan 22, 2007 02:32 AM

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

                                          1. re: shnigglebob
                                            Robert Lauriston RE: shnigglebob Jan 22, 2007 09:50 PM

                                            Topic on Pescheria:


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