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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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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.