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Best Lobster

I haven't been to SF in ages (I know-I should come back) so I was unable to help when my wife's Aunt asked me this question-
Her 20-something grandson and wife live in SF and both love lobster. She wants to get them a gift certificate for a restaurant that serves terrific lobster. So I need a place that always serves it. And I'm thinking she'd like something a little above a fish-shack kind of place. They travel a lot and could deal with any level restaurant.
Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

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    1. DW, asking SF'ers where to get lobster is sort of like going to Brooklyn and asking where to get a Montreal bagel. Not impossible but you'll probably get an odd look since SF is about crab.

      Any way, you can get lobster in SF just not a culinary tradition and it's flown in. Many nice places serve it...just not consistently to be notable. Lobster tends to show up when crabs are out of season...or hotels where luxury is expected.

      1. Bar Crudo, if cold is okay. Yabbie's offers both hot and cold.

        North Beach Lobster Shack is a fish-shack kind of place. Woodhouse Fish Company has a similar menu but is a bit nicer.

        Tadich Grill always has lobster tail on the menu, but I believe (like most things they have every day) it's frozen, it's ridiculously expensive, and they probably overcook it.

        The brand-new Waterbar has both spiny and Maine lobster on the "live" section of their menu.

        Bar Crudo
        655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

        North Beach Lobster Shack
        532 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

        Woodhouse Fish Company
        2073 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114

        399 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA

        Yabbies Coastal Kitchen
        2237 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94115

        2 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            i like the crab + lobster thermidor at tadich a lot.

          2. As ML8000 says, lobster isn't a local item, so tends to show up as whole lobster only on raw bar menus, tourist restaurants at the Wharf, or high-end seafood places. In addition to Bar Crudo, I believe Farallon's raw bar frequently has lobster. Scoma's and many of the Wharf restaurants have it (although it may not be Maine lobster).

            Many local restaurants will have lobster as a part of a dish, like lobster ravioli or a lobster bisque or sauce.

            I think whole, cracked shellfish are almost always better at home than in restaurants anyway, so maybe she can have live lobster shipped to them for their own candle-lit lobster dinner!


            6 Replies
            1. re: waldrons

              Lobster's not just at high-end places and tourist traps. Vietnamese and Hong Kong-style Chinese places with live tanks often have it.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Chinese and VN places definitely have live lobster but usually only in the crab off-season and usually on the small size. I had a lobster at Chef Lau's in Oakland Chinatown during the delayed crab season due to the oil spill. It was good but was tiny.

              2. re: waldrons

                The price of Scoma's lobster (and a few other Fisherman's Wharf Restaurants) was over $60 each ...and then you have to put up with Fisherman's Wharf, at best, average sides, appetizers and desserts.

                General question. What's the name of that place on Union Street that has the weekly lobster special? They are lobsters that might have a claw missing, but the price is great. If the people receiving the gift like lobster and want a reasonable fix now and then, they might appreciate knowing it is there. However, I go to one of the North Beach Lobster Shacks for a top quality lobster though little ambiance. Don't know if they have gift certificates either.

                1. re: rworange

                  are you maybe thinking of Perry's - i know the one downtown has a lobster special every wednesday - not high end dining but seems to attract a good crowd and is very reasonable...

                    1. re: chutney

                      Perry's serves a small "chicken lobster" (1.25 lbs). Just a tease for this lobster lover. Maybe the right size for a small appetite.

                      Tadich has a huge broiled Australian lobster tail that is perfect if ordered medium even if the server looks askance at the request. Epesnive, about $45 for the tail last year.

                      Have never tried it at Woodhouse but they are as likely to overcook as Tadich.

                2. If it were me, I'd get it at either Woodhouse Fish Co. or Swan Oyster Depot. Not upscale, but good.

                  1. They are alive and you have to cook them yourself.
                    I am reminded of Bill Cosby's old monologue about Noah.
                    God,I want you to build an Ark

                    1. Thanks all-I'll pass along the advice and leave it up to her...I really appreciate your help.
                      May all your seafood be fresh.

                      1. I live in Sausalito, and every winter, to boost their off-season business, Scoma's (right on the water with a superb view of Angel Island, the Bay Bridge and San Francisco waterfront) has a Lobster Monday Night special. A friend and I just had the dinner last Monday. It's $29.00 for a huge caesar salad or clam chowder, a good-sized lobster (a little tough, but flavorful), rice pilaf, sauteed carrots and zucchini, and a good creme brulee for desert, all inclusive. Reservations are a must, and ask to be seated in the back of the restaurant overlooking the water. Be forewarned: if you take the Golden Gate ferry, the last boat out of Sausalito for the Ferry Building in the winter is 7:20pm, so make it an early dinner for a trip and a meal to remember.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: lizaw

                          Thanks for the great tip

                          Scoma's Sausalito
                          588 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965

                          1. re: NicoleSF


                            I'd steam or broil it at home
                            or order lobster lo mein for $12.99 at

                            Brother Seafood Restaurant
                            1830 Irving Street

                          2. Not the answer you're looking for:

                            I've never had a lobster I much liked on the West Coast (including eating it @ French Laundry and purchasing it live from a tank and cooking it myself).

                            Full disclosure: born/bred in New England. :)

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: sundeck sue

                              Friends went home to Maine to visit family and returned to SFO with live lobsters - what a feast! much better than 'tanked' lobsters here.

                              1. re: sundeck sue

                                Being from Maine I would state I am very picky, as even certain areas in Maine have better lobster based on the bay / region the traps are pulled from the gulf of Maine. However, the best place in bay area is "Old Port Lobster Shack" in Redwood City. Now granted the lobster probably comes from Boston, New Hampshire and maybe southern Maine area, it is still fantastic! True to New England and esp. Maine even have Maine local beer on tap!

                                Go there and skip the fancy white table cloth service and get great lobster!

                                Note: See thread as seems this place has gone sour as of late and quality is not the same, so beware! Too bad as this was a spot I would hit when I missed home! Guess have to travel back to Maine to get the real thing and cook it myself!

                              2. sauce does a pretty good lobster roll, though understandably expensive.

                                as a new englander who just got back from cape cod though where i bought lobster at $5/pound, brought it home and cooked it myself, and had somethign better than anything i've had at any restaurant on the west coast, i too am hard-pressed to want to get lobster out here :)

                                that being said, bar crudo does do a good lobster salad. have also heard good things, but never tried, the legendary michael mina lobster pot pie.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: vulber

                                  I had a bite of Mina's lobster pot pie, it was very good, which it ought to be given the price (I think it was $49 that night).

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I met a server who told me it was $75; with a stretch, I could afford it for half that price.

                                    1. re: walker

                                      The price varies according to the market price of lobster.

                                  2. re: vulber

                                    mina's lobster pot pie is excellent.

                                    i had it at bourbon steak a year or two ago.

                                    it was ~$80 at that point.

                                  3. Butter Poached Lobster at La Folie

                                    1. Go to http://www.newenglandlobster.net/. Not in SF proper but by the airport. It is the main shipper and distributor of lobster from New England. The warehouse is full of tanks of thousands of live lobsters. They now have a restaurant on sight. Lobster can not get any fresher on west coast straight off the plane.