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Nov 27, 2006 05:49 PM

Swan's Oyster Depot [SF]

Up from L.A., visiting my parents, I took a couple friends to Swann's Depot. We had a great time -- YOU CAN DRINK BEER WHILE WAITING IN LINE, which we did for 1 hour.

My friends said the experience was kinda like Pinks hotdogs down here. The overall experience was better then the food, we're originally from CT, and pretty opinionated.

We loved the staff and they let me take a lot of really fun photos; behind the counter and in the kitchen. In Los Angeles they would never let you do that!


Is it true that the clam chowder is made from Campbell’s canned? I hope it’s not. Kinda reminds me of how down here people say that the BBQ sauce at BBQ King is from Smart & Final.

Anyway, we had a great time! Nice weather too.

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  1. Yes, it is true. Had you used the bathroom you would have passed the wall of cans. They do add fresh clam juice, though, which helps.

    1. Absolutly great dead on description and terrific pics that capture the spirit of Swan's. What the heck is this though?

      5 Replies
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          The young lady eating the urchin (not a friend) said it tastes sweet when it's that fresh. So there you go...

          1. re: Hershey Bomar

            interestingly, i've never seen uni on their menu.

            swan oyster is nice, the seafood is not that special though, i am one of the dissenters. the clam chowder suffice to say, is not onlything that comes from a can, the shrimp is from a can too. and all this from such a vaunted establishment.

            1. re: Hershey Bomar

              Walking by Monday at 12:30pm, I was surprised by the absence of a line in front of Swan. No live uni in the window display or I would have grabbed a seat (even though i'd already had lunch).

          2. re: rworange

            that looks like sea urchin to me.

          3. I think Swan gets cut a lot of slack for its old-school atmosphere and longevity.

            Not that there aren't some good things there, but if Woodhouse had served food of the same quality, it'd be closed by now.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I'll reply to this seven-year-old post by agreeing with it. I lived a few blocks from Swans for 15 years in the 60s and 70s and didn't like it then. Haven't been back in a ling time and see no reason to do so.

              1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                I walk by occasionally and see the long line of tourists outside waiting for an hour while homeless people nearby laugh at their folly. The point is that you can get good oysters in SF in a civilized environment without having to stand in line for an hour on Polk Street. I was at the Ferry Building on a Saturday some weeks ago and noticed the long line outside Hog Island and registered a similar folly. But at least those people had a nice view of the Bay while they waited.

                1. re: nocharge

                  Use to go to Swans to get take out for my grandmother, never ate there or stood in line. If you don't have to wait, it's okay. If you have to wait, forget it.

            2. No way, I dont believe the soup is Campbells. Can anyone else confirm???!

              1 Reply
              1. re: funmarysf

                Euonymous and others have reported this...Go there. Go to the bathroom. Look at the stack of cans.

              2. Swans is great if you want Oysters. I never really like the look of their other seafood. Order in advance or grab what they have and take them home. Eating-in is a definite SF experience but it's not exactly a pick-of-the-litter location. Family run, these guys will tell you what's good and will also let you taste any oyster you are interested in buying. Skip the chowder.

                1 Reply
                1. re: rdean

                  the best crab just pure and simple