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Long Weekend In Sausalito & San Francisco - Looking for Best Inexpensive Seafood

Hello! I will be staying in Sausalito this weekend and plan to split my time between there and San Francisco. I'm on a major budget, but love seafood and am hoping for suggestions on where I can find inexpensive, delicious seafood. Thanks!

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  1. Good luck on the whole inexpensive/seafood/Sausalito part, but Horizons has (or had, haven't been in about a year) tasty fish tacos for lunch and a killer bay/SF view. Le Garage has really good seafood/fish dishes and while not really budget is good value for the buck. Sushi Ran, one of the best Japanese seafood resto's in the bay area has a delish bento box lunch that may be in your price range, again not budget but good value. Fish, also a wonderful, casual place on the water (but out of the tourist throng) has terrific food, can be very pricey (but tax is included and the tip jar is optional) so check their online menu and see if anything appeals that is within your budget. Good luck and have a great time.

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    Sushi Ran
    107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA 94965

    Le Garage
    85 Liberty Ship Way Ste 109, Sausalito, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: annabana

      Probably the best you can do for recommendations considering inexpensive seafood is an oxymoron and add in Sausalito and it becomes a fantasy. The Horizons lunch menu has fish tacos under sandwich for $13.

      1. re: annabana

        I agree about Fish. The seafood always tastes fresh, but I noticed it's gotten pricier. I'm not sure if you are coming to the East Bay, but there is Seasalt.

      2. You might try higher-end Chinese places. Great Eastern in SF Chinatown has lots of live fish (etc.) in tanks. Depending on where you are coming from... you might be impressed.
        A noted local delicacy is Dungeness crab, but the local crab season is late fall through early spring. If you get crab now, it will be from way up north.
        Local fish in season now are the smaller flatfish: rex sole, sand dabs, petrale sole. Simple preparations are best.

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        Great Eastern Restaurant
        649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

        2 Replies
        1. re: Joel

          Thank you, Joel. We're from Orange County, Ca and I feel that we have decent seafood but nothing as fresh as what San Francisco has to offer. I've never had sand dabs before, but I'll have to give them a try.

        2. I was recently really impressed by the cioppino at Sotto Mare in North Beach. As a visitor you'll probably end up in NB at some point anyway, so you might as well eat well while you're there.

          The cioppino is $32, but it comes in a huge tureen. It's definitely enough for two, though my friend claims his father can eat the tureen himself. I'm pretty sure even the staff there doesn't suggest that. Ours had what looked like a whole Dungeness crab in it, plus mussels, clams, fish, octopus, and egg noodles at the bottom (not traditional, but delicious soaked in all that seafood broth). If you truly need more food than that, the linguini and clams are delicious.

          The other big thing to do here is $1 oyster happy hours. If that's your thing, Waterbar is my favorite place for it. Plenty of seating, beautiful views, and $1 oysters are available every night. Call for exact hours, but I think as long as you place your order by 6pm you're good to go.

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          Sotto Mare
          552 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          3 Replies
          1. re: Pei

            Thank you all so much for your replies. I'll have to give some of these restaurants a try, in particular Horizons, Great Eastern (as I know we'll be spending a decent amount of time in Chinatown) and the $1 oyster happy hours. I'm not a fan of oysters (wish I was) but my husband definitely is. I've heard quite a bit about Swan Oyster Depot. Would any of you recommend?

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            Great Eastern Restaurant
            649 Jackson St, San Francisco, CA 94133

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

            1. re: elk949

              I had a late lunch at Horizons a couple of days ago. The food was good without being spectacular focusing on straightforward preparations rather than anything super complex. It's not exactly cheap, though. The $12 heirloom tomato salad consisted of three large tomato slices and a little mozzarella. And a large glass of beer was over 7 bucks. Still, it was a very pleasant experience to sit in the shade on the patio on a very hot day right on the water. It's hard to beat the view of the Bay and the SF skyline -- and, when we were there, a 300 million dollar yacht owned by a Russian tycoon anchored in the Bay -- so paying a bit of a premium for the location may well be justifiable under the right circumstances.

              Waterbar is easily the nicest restaurant with $1 oysters (until 6 pm) in terms of ambience and location. On recent visits, I've had some varying experience with the happy hour oysters ranging from excellent to so-so. Their full-price oysters are excellent, but pricey, and they have a lot of other seafood dishes that are really good. Not a particularly inexpensive place, though.

              1. re: elk949

                Swan Oyster is a local institution that appears on a lot of food shows. I've been, and it's just okay. Raw oysters are raw oysters; as long as they are fresh and the people shucking them are competent, you're going to be eating the same product. The chowder and other prepared food there is average to below average.

                In a nutshell, it's not bad food but I would not stand in line or waste precious vacation time for it. It's also extremely crowded. I much prefer going to any of the many restaurants that serve oysters and enjoying them with my meal, or at a $1 happy hour. Basically, somewhere where people aren't breathing down my neck to eat and get out.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. What's the budget?
                What are your expectations?

                17 Replies
                1. re: steve h.

                  Hi Steve. We arrive Friday morning, leave Monday morning and I would like to spend no more than $500 on food. I don't expect to experience fine dining on that budget, but I would like to have as much crab as possible. Seeing as how it is out of season right now, that may be unrealistic. My husband will be very happy about the price of oysters though!

                  1. re: elk949

                    elk, if you can find them, do try the dabs. I have read good comments about them from the resto Pei mentions above, Sotto Mare in North Beach (SM had $1 oysters at one point so maybe that would work for both of you -- they also appear to have cracked crab on the menu though caveat emptor re posts above on seasonality/price).

                    Sand dabs and petrale sole are now my favourite fish, followed by arctic char and black cod (the latter two I can get easily here in Vancouver but they are so different from the first two which are both super light, delicate and yet satisfying when prepared simply).

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                    Sotto Mare
                    552 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

                    1. re: elk949

                      Hi elk,
                      I think your budget is pretty good.

                      Deb and I were at Bar Crudo recently: small plates, solid beer/wine selections. It's informal and moderate in price. The seafood is fresh as can be. Well worth the time and investment for dinner.

                      Hog Island at the ferry building has very good oysters. I sit at the bar, drink California sparkling wine and slurp a dozen or so of the freshest. It's a cost-effective yet very cool lunch for me. Zuni Cafe is another shop I like for lunch. The oysters are expertly shucked, the gimlets cold and the burgers and pizza of very high quality. Pricey but it won't break the budget.

                      In Sausalito, FISH is my goto place. Cash only (there's an ATM nearby). Eat outside at a picnic table, watch the good and bad skippers pull up to the fuel dock and enjoy the day.

                      Saturday morning is best spent at the Farmers' Market at the Ferry Building. Pack a picnic basket from the abundance of meats/breads/fruits/cheeses/wines and beers there. Take the ferry to Angel Island and hike to the top of Mount Livermore. Enjoy spectacular views of the Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, the City. Relish your feast. The ferry will drop you back at nearby Sausalito.

                      Although not on your list, pizza in San Francisco is undergoing a renaissance. Tony's in North Beach is very good: tables, booths and bar seating. I like it a lot. Plenty of others.

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                      Zuni Cafe
                      1658 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                      Bar Crudo
                      655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                      1. re: steve h.

                        Second the Bar Crudo reccomendation. And their happy hour bargains will be very easy on your budget. The seafood chowder is sublime, oysters fresh and briny and very tasty fish tacos. Check their website for hours and daily menus. You will be very happy with this choice.

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                        Bar Crudo
                        655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                        1. re: annabana

                          I'm a big fan of the crudo sampler (for two!). The arctic char with roe is remarkable. The restrained use of wasabi really elevates the dish.

                          1. re: steve h.

                            You kids are killing me! We're going to be in SF in about ten days but only one dinner. I'm thinking it's gonna be Bar Crudo.

                            If OP wants Dungeness crab, they can still be had at the wharf. They're not local but they're still fresh. OP can take it/them back to hotel/motel, spread some newspaper on the floor, open some wine, butter and sourdough and will have one helluva fine meal.

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                            Bar Crudo
                            655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Travel broadens, c.
                              Bar Crudo is fun, not fancy. I'm looking forward to your feedback.
                              Keep me posted on the SA stuff.

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                              Bar Crudo
                              655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

                              1. re: steve h.

                                SF daughter is a size zero foodie and wine lover (besides being a fashionista) so I just usually leave it up to her but I know she likes it also.
                                A CH has recommended a fish market near our apt. in Rio. I intend to cook from it for sure. Arrive 9/10.

                                1. re: c oliver

                                  very cool.
                                  Save some time in San Francisco so you can slurp a drink or two at Tunnel Top. Sloppy, low rent and fun. Take the California cable car back to the FiDi and figure out next steps.

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                                  Tunnel Top
                                  601 Bush St, San Francisco, CA

                                  1. re: steve h.

                                    My plan is a post-dim sum for breakfast stop at Tunnel Top. Or would that be a pre-lunch cocktail? Amanda and SIL live at 16th & Valencia so we have many transpo options. She works near Calif. & Grant. It's probably been 20 or more years since I've been on a cable car but the CA one is definitely not as crowded. The 30 Stockton is usually our north/south bus if we don't hoof it. It's so easy to windowshop and people watch ones way from Market to North Beach that I hardly notice the walk. Same in Manhattan. Oh yeah, and in Rio :)

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                                    Tunnel Top
                                    601 Bush St, San Francisco, CA

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      Tunnel Top is a bar. Not quite a dive bar but it has aspirations. Bars work best late at night. Bring cash, prepare to stand. Enjoy the vibe. Have an exit strategy. The California cable car always takes me safely back to the FiDi.

                                      -----
                                      Tunnel Top
                                      601 Bush St, San Francisco, CA

                                      1. re: steve h.

                                        Ah, yes, I know it's a bar. But when beginning one's vacation I think it's appropriate to consume adult beverages before lunch. The divier the better :)

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          "Nothing stronger than beer before breakfast."
                                          --WC Fields.

                                2. re: steve h.

                                  We have res for 7pm Weds. the 8th. Then fly out to Rio the next morning. Yippee!!!

                                3. re: c oliver

                                  This assumes you have the willpower or interest to take it back to your hotel. You can also simply find a bench and eat it right there. Like I keep saying, make sure you watch them boil/steam your crab - don't take a precooked.

                            2. re: steve h.

                              Great list. Ferry to angel island is a great afternoon.