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Where to have the best raw oyster experience in S.F.

  • s

Hi, new to this board, so hi,
I have read some of the posts about oyster joints in S.F. Hogs seems to be recommended a bunch, but I was just wondering if there's just the best best best place. Doesn't have to be fancy, or down and dirty, might be nice if also a good place for the rest of a nice dinner, and must have FULL BAR!
Any suggestions??

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  1. I like Hog Island a lot, but Zuni is also very good and they have a full bar.

    1. Welcome Seasa!
      I'm an old school gal when I am in SF and love going to Tadich Grill..some of the best seafood and they have freshly shucked oysters..it's been around since the mid 1800's.

      1. Definitely Zuni, once you add the full bar, good place for the rest of a dinner qualifications.

        1. Swan Oyster Depot is low-frills, but you can still get Anchor on tap and I think there's average wine. It's counter-only, and an SF institution. They usually have 4-5 varieties, east and west coast.

          They have other menu items - house smoked salmon and trout, salads, chowder.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Absonot

            I believe Swan is open for lunch only.

            1. re: DavidT

              Swan does not have a full bar either - beer & wine only.

            2. Hog Island in the Ferry Building has far and away the best oysters. No bar, and very limited dinner choices, but a great view and the absolute best oysters.

              1. I think Zuni is the best bet given the bar request. I like a full bar as well and Zuni's oysters are great. I've also had oysters at numerous other places in the city that have a full bar. But I think Zuni has oysters down and always has a wide selection. Now if you are willing to dine early and in the East Bay, I like Sea Salt for $1 oysters before 6 PM any day of the week. Have fun.

                1. El Rio, a bar just soulth of CChavez on Mission. Fridays from 5-7. Free oysters.
                  An ongoing tradition for, geez, at least 15 years. Because it is a bar, it meets your
                  criterion of FULL BAR, though it does not have anything else to eat. But Blue Plate,
                  Mi Lindo Peru, and Can-Cun are all right nearby.

                  Otherwise, I'm not sure what could be meant by "best" -- that seems so exclusionary.
                  They're all basically the same species, served virtually preparation-free. Quality and
                  flavor tends to vary much more by the time of year than by restaurant.

                  That said, my best semi-recent memory was at Yabbies on Polk three of us early
                  enough for the $1 oysters, 36 of them, a bowl of chowder, and a bottle of fizzy wine.
                  The dollar oysters were 6-7pm weekdays, I don't know if/when it's still happening.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: uh ... art

                    Yeah best is relative. I've had oysters at many places as I said and rarely been dissappointed. But per the Chowhounders request for ultimate, I think Zuni is hard to beat.

                    1. re: Cheesy Oysters

                      Yeah, I have to agree, even given my post above. When you want great oysters, great wine, and great people watching (with the option of great food) it can't be beat.

                  2. Thanks everyone so much for all this info. I know, my title wasn't exactly what I meant, but I think you'll understood what I was after. I think Zuni for the big birthday dinner, but I love the sound of the free "oyster happy hour" on Friday at El Rio. If we drive like crazy, maybe that will be our first stop when we hit the city.
                    Thanks again.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Seasa

                      Zuni's definitely going to give you that "best best best" thing you're looking for. I'd save El Rio for some other time. After a couple of drinks on the back porch you'll be in no condition to enjoy Zuni.

                    2. OMG, we had some great oystery experiences over the weekend.
                      We arrived in the city precisely at 5:30 on Friday, we drove from L.A. It was my husbands birthday weekend basically, but I wanted to call some of the shots.
                      We went to El Rio, as per somebody's recommendation, free oyster happy hour! And it was, $2.50 drinks, and all the free oysters you cared to wait in a very short line for. They were great, great seedy bar, but right in our wheel house, perfect.
                      Then we did Zuni, the next night, and wow, that was freaking fantastic. I presented my honey with a gifty while at the bar, and the bartender made note of the birthday, and brought us 4 more additional oysters with our second order, very sweet, and they were too :-) I couldn't get a dinner res at Zuni, we went over to Indigo for the all you can wine prix fix dinner, that too was great.
                      Thanks again to all who gave me such great ideas, my husband was beyond pleased.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Seasa

                        god I'd forgotten about el Rio...good fun.

                        glad to hear Zuni is still doing its thing. great presentation. great room.

                        1. re: hill food

                          locking in the coordinates

                          El Rio
                          3158 Mission St, San Francisco, CA