Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Apr 30, 2007 08:31 PM

Where do SF locals go for crabs?

I'm coming into town next week and I'd love to get some fresh (obviously), reasonably priced (not cheap, just not tourist-priced), tasty crabs. Where's the best place to find them?

I'm a Boston local and would also love to compare the chowder, who's got the best?

Any and all recs welcome!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Dungeness crabs (at least those caught in Northern California) are pretty out of season by now. Whatever fresh crab is available is probably coming from much further north in the Pacific.

    Swan's Oyster Depot (Polk St., SF) is a landmark place to go for cracked crab, sourdough bread and an Anchor Steam beer. Call them when you come to town and see if they have crab available. Be aware they are open only at lunch and it is counter seating.

    10 Replies
    1. re: DavidT

      But skip the chowder. You can buy the same can in Boston.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        What's being served in all of those sour dough bread bowls then? I just assumed it was chowder, I've been in New England too long!

        rworange, where is Tadich??

        And another question if you don't mind. Last year at this same time I found Zuni completely by accident. I hadn't read up anything on San Francisco, but my hotel was on Market Street. One night while walking around the (sketchy) neighborhood I spotted Zuni and thought it must be a mirage. The next night I went to dinner there and I was sure it was a mirage... how on earth could a restaurant that great end up in a spot like that?! It was probably my favorite part of San Francisco, that's true neighborhood integration. So, my question is... would my money be better spent anywhere in the city other than Zuni? Follow-up: If not, can the roast chicken for 2 be split with co-worker without it being weird (i.e. would we both have to eat the chicken off of one plate or do they serve it separately). Since dining there I've read up and I hear the chicken is not to be missed!

        Thanks for all of the good advice so far!

        1. re: heWho

          The Zuni chicken can certainly be shared without both eathing off the same plate. It's the roast chicken and a bread/greens salad. It is amazingly good but you have to wait for a while - 20 minutes? for it to cook.

          They also are open for lunch and have a great selection of raw oysters, etc. Also a very good hamburger. Also you can sit outside on the sidewalk if it's nice.

          1. re: oakjoan

            The chicken takes 45 minutes and twice the chicken was served rare at the bone -- I'd prefer to go at certain times for the cheeseburger and caesar salad.

          2. re: heWho

            As I recall, Zuni's chicken for two is served on two plates.

            Zuni started out as a little sandwich shop. At that time most of the current restaurant was occupied by a cactus store and a vintage furniture shop. It looks like the middle of nowhere but it's only a few blocks from the symphony hall and opera house.

            1. re: heWho

              Tadich is at 260 California Street, in the Financial District. Sam's Grill is on Bush Street, just east of Kearney St.

                1. re: heWho

                  No, you're right. It IS usually chowder in those bowls. I think what Robert is trying to say is that the chowder at Swan's is canned so why bother?

                  PS I love getting crab and a hunk o' sourdough at Swan's.

                  1. re: chaddict

                    Yes, that's what I meant.

                    I believe Swan Oyster Depot's bowls are ceramic.

                  2. re: heWho

                    Most of the stuff in sourdough bowls comes from cans. I guess everyone else answered the other questions. Have fun.

              1. Woodhouse Fish in the Castro has the best clam chowder. Of course, they fly the clams in from Boston .. so ... you and them clams might be on the same plane. Why not go for some cioppino instead at Tadich which has some of the best sourdough as well.

                3 Replies
                1. re: rworange

                  Second on that. Cioppino's a local dish. Chowder is foreign.

                  Woodhouse and Old Port / North Beach Lobster Shack specialize in the regional cuisine of New England.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Or that's that version at Hog Island for a different take ... clams in shell. Now that I have four local sources of good clam chowder (beside the two places mentioned ... Sea Salt, Berkeley & Fish in Sausalito) I've come to peace the Hog Island $14 'chowder'. As long as there are sources of the chowder I crave, it is fine that there are alternative versions.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Someone reminded me ... Bar Crudo is supposed to have an outstanding clam chowder. Haven't tried it yet but it is high on my list to try.

                2. The crabs? I buy them off the boats at Pillar Point Harbor -- South on Rt 1 on the way to Half Moon Bay. I don't know if you can call ahead. There is a whiteboard listing which boats are in port and selling.

                  1. Thanh Long 4101 Judah Street
                    on the corner of 46th Avenue
                    San Francisco, CA 94122

                    My sister and her husband (she's asian, he's american) always take us to Thanh Long. It is considered Vietnames but the crab there is delicious. It's part of the An Family restaurant such as Crustacean in SF and Beverly Hills. But we like Thanh Long much much better, food tastes better there. You also have to try the crab fried rice and the garlic noodles.

                    As far as Chowder, the best is still found in your neck of the woods in Back Bay :-)

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: dshm

                      Thanh Long went way downhill. Have you been there recently? If so maybe it's come back.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Really? That is so unfortunate. I was there last October didn't have the time to visit last month when I was in the Bay. What was it that went downhill - food or venue itself?

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            That's just too bad .. thanks for the warning!

                    2. I either eat crab at home (plain, with drawn butter), or at a Chinese restaurant where they pull it live out of the tank. Great Eastern is the first place I ever had crab (I thought I didn't like it), and it still has a special place in my heart.