HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


Swan Oyster Depot, SF

anybody been to this place??? I've read the reviews on yelp!, seems like a great place and very consistent, any reviews??? THX. former bay area transplant now living in las vegas, much cheaper!!!:)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I suggest you do a "Search this board" search for Swan Oyster. You will find dozens & dozens (& dozens) of prior posts and comments. It is a SF landmark, still going strong.

    1. I think I have been going there since 1984 and I still love it. The best crab period.

      1. Their chowder is amazing -- not thick and gloopy, more brothy. And the salmon is smoked in house. Worth the splurge. One of the few places in SF where I giggle and blather like a tourist. It's a special spot. Can't say it has comfortable seating, but Anchor Steam on tap?! I'm sold.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Absonot

          I kind of feel like a broken record, but I have to say it again: Their oysters and crab are great but their chowder comes out of a can labelled Campbells. They do add fresh clam juice to it over the course of the day, so in the afternoon it might be OK. Still, you can buy the main ingredient in grocery stores all over the country.

          1. re: Euonymous

            I had the clam chowder once and thought ok nothing special..I am a purist when I go there I eat about three crab cocktails, yes I do.
            I keep hearing about the campbells but I don't know if that is true or not.. it could be a urban myth.. yes they have campbell soup can labels on the wall before you hit the john .. but that could mean anything. If people like the clam chowder there great.

            OP just go and enjoy its a jewel.

            1. re: Lori SF

              It's not an urban myth, it really is canned. I wish they'd start making from scratch chowder but I don't think they'll ever change their system in any way.

              1. re: walker

                Well, if that's the case, its the best canned chowder I've every had. Large pieces of non-rubbery seafood suggests otherwise, but I'm not here to argue. Also, its a very brothy soup, not thick and gloppy like most canned. Either way, I'm with Lori SF, their other fresh seafood dishes really shine.

                1. re: chemchef

                  They doctor it with clam juice. Rachael Ray loved Swan's on her visit there.

                  Gee, I was looking at Menupages ... it says for a $5 charge, Swan's delivers to Pacific Heights, Nob Hill, Marina, North Beach. Anyone know if this is true?

                  Swan Oyster Depot
                  1517 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109

                  1. re: rworange

                    I didn't love their clam chowder but my guess would be they're doing more to doctor is then just the clam juice. The clams didn't have that sandy, rubbery taste you get from Campbells.

              2. re: Lori SF

                It's not an urban myth, and they don't have, "campbell soup can labels on the wall before you hit the john." What they have is an enormous stack of large cans of campbell's clam chowder stored in a recessed area beside the hall before you hit the head.

                I agree, it's a jewel, but I think people need to know this kind of thing.

          2. Every time I've been there, its been great. When I crave fresh, no frills seafood, this is always my go-to place. Just be forewarned, there is nearly always a line, and the seating is counter only and very minimal. Its well worth it, though.

            1. This place is hands down the best seafood I have ever had! And it's family owned so you really get the "homely" feel when eating there!! Everyone is extremely nice! And the food is so fresh. I have eaten here a dozen times and I everything on the menu is stupendous! However, the only down side is its long lines because there is limited seating. But well worth it!

              1. I was there on Monday and it was as good as always. My mom was visiting, and she loves their combo salad with Louis dressing. So do I. We got that with a cup of chowder and an Anchor Steam. Yummmmm! This was the first time my 8 month old daughter came with us. She doesn't eat shellfish yet, but the sourdough kept her happy and she giggled and smiled at all the guys on the other side of the counter. I think they must add clams to the soup if it is Campbells. Whatever...it was delicious.

                1. OMG! This is the best seafood place I have been to! Everything is really fresh and tasty! The crab salad is so amazing with the thousand island dressing...and the clam chowder is not the typical creamy sauce. It's more of a broth, but trust me, it's the best clam chowder. But then again I'm not a fan of creamy sauce. Although there is always a line (because the seating is limited) it's well worth the wait. Plus everyone that works there is super super friend and nice! Family owned!! This place is a must!!!

                  1. I learned something new when I was there the other day -- the day before: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's they are open only for take out/phone orders -- no counter service. I said, "Don't people beg?" (Thinking of all the out of towners visiting who have no idea of this.) They said, yes, they do beg but we can't allow it those days, we are so swamped with the special orders. I buy their Louie dressing -- not just for the prawns but also raw cauliflower is good dipped in it.

                    1. I have never understood the almost fanatical appeal of this place. I used to live in Polk Gulch about 50 years ago, and ate there 3-4 times a week. Great fresh seafood, tho the menu is severely limited. There are many fine SF seafood restaurants who serve seafood just as fresh (it all comes from the same wholesalers) , even cooked. The implication that Swan is the only place in town with "fresh" seafood, is insulting. I suppose its like Tavern of the Green in NY...if its expensive, it must be good. I think there is some masochistic appeal to the seating, also.