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May 9, 2011 03:50 AM

Best west coast seafood

This will be my first time to the west coast. Looking for classical west coast seafood in a civilized atmosphere (no jeans, baseball caps or cell phones at the tables).

And where might one find the best cioppino?

Also, any suggestions for french bistro fare would be appreciated.

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  1. You may have to recalibrate your expectations for dress somewhat. There are very, very few restaurants in the Bay Area where jeans are officially a no-no, and only a slightly larger handful that don't specifically prohibit them, but where you'd be unlikely to see at least one other customer wearing them. For example, Tadich Grill features very good seafood and its service feels like something from a generation or two ago - and I've worn jeans there every time I've visited. And while you probably won't see someone being so gauche as to loudly talk on their phone at the table, checking email on one's smartphone is ubiquitous.

    Also - quality of seafood and a "civilized atmosphere" are not necessarily correlated here the way I might expect when I'm in, say, Boston. Places near the waterfront are a lot more upscale than Tadich, Sam's, or a true hole in the wall like Swan Oyster Depot - but do they serve a better petrale sole/sand dabs/cioppino/Dungeness? Most here would doubt it.

    Tadich Grill
    240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: bigwheel042

      What BigWheel said. We Californians are way too casual to concern ourselves with atmosphere when it comes to great food.

      That said, I would add Farallon might give you the experience you want with exceptional seafood and a slightly upscale ambience (although there are still likely to be cell phones at the tables...)

      450 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

    2. Rose Pistola made the best cioppino I've had in a restaurant. Haven't been there recently. Places with a strong focus on local ingredients won't have it on the menu right now.

      Some seafood places:

      Alamo Square
      Anchor & Hope
      Anchor Oyster Bar
      Bar Crudo
      Fish. (Sausalito)
      Hog Island Oyster Co. (Ferry Plaza)
      La Ciccia (not strictly seafood)
      La Mar (ditto)
      Plouf (for moules-frites; other stuff's not cheap)
      Sotto Mare
      Swan Oyster Depot (don't order the canned chowder)

      Plus any number of Vietnamese and Chinese places

      The seafood at Tadich and its less touristy twin Sam's tends to be overcooked. Tadich buys frozen shrimp. I like both for the whole package but the food's old-school to a fault.

      I think there's maybe one restaurant in SF with a dress code. People wear whatever wherever. I enjoy seeing a table of hipsters in jeans and T-shirts next to a table of people in black tie.

      1. The OP was looking for "classical west coast seafood," which isn't clearly defined but, in the context of the atmosphere request, I took to mean "ingredients that are specific to the west coast AND are associated with an earlier generation of American eating, in the same way steakhouses are."

        By that description Vietnamese and Chinese places don't really fit the bill - most of them fail on the atmosphere front alone. La Mar doesn't but it's a Peruvian cebicheria - not "classical", and not really West Coast-specific. Same with La Ciccia and Plouf, a Sardinian and French/Belgian mussel joint. Bar Crudo gets raves, but is any restaurant serving raw Hokkaido scallops with sunchoke puree "classical"? Woodhouse, maybe, but has a split identity with quite a few East Coast items like Ipswich clams on the menu.

        La Ciccia
        291 30th Street, San Francisco, CA 94131

        Bar Crudo
        655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117

        40 Belden Place, San Francisco, CA 94104

        1 Reply
        1. re: bigwheel042

          If by "classical" RichardinJP means old-school SF, then Tadich or Sam's Grill match the request.