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Jan 2012- Dungeness Crab (at a restaurant)


I didn't see any recent threads after some preliminary searching, so I apologize if this is a re-tread.

Every January I come to SF, and it's crab season. I never manage to get any, and I always regret it- so this year, I'm making it a priority.

I'm looking for a simple preparation that showcases the crab- and while Swan Oyster Depot would be a definite possibilty, I need something for a Saturday dinner.

We are staying near Union Square, no car, but can cab it for crab.

So what are your favorite crab dishes in town? Thanks!

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  1. You can cab or trolly it up Market Street to Woodhouse. It is not a typical destination for visitors due to its New England slant, but they do straight-up west coast versions of seafood as well, including Dungeness Crab.

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

    3 Replies
    1. re: Civil Bear

      Thanks CB- that hadn't come up in my searches, and it's a very straightforward menu, which is nice- I want all those things. I see that there are 2, the other on Fillmore. Do you have a preference? Or were you kindly considering my location and ease of travel? Funny that the corkage for the Market St. location is $12, and the Fillmore location $13.

      1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

        the Market St location is better. from union square you can take the F-market street car straight down market. It's a smaller place and can get crowded but is worth it.

        1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

          Fillmore Street has a bigger menu. But I tend to go to Market Street too. The crab in white wine sauce is very good, as is the (out of season but delicious) strawberry shortcake.

      2. Absinthe's current online dinner menu shows to sizes of chilled Dungeness crab for $16 and $30--also on the lunch menu.

        2 Replies
        1. re: bobpantzer

          Absinthe looks beautiful, and lots of options for my dinner companions that might not share my crabby obsession! I'm probably going to hit up R&D for the salt and pepper crab as well, but that's going to be another day. Thank you, bobpantzer.

          1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

            I'm going there for lunch next week and plan to have their delicious French onion soup and the half crab. Yum!

        2. Caffe Sport in North Beach is a possibility.

          1. Two East Bay places not too far from BART come to mind. Southie makes a crab roll with a decent amount of crab served over a celery root slaw. Ippuku has a crab croquette which is unbelievably good--- creamy, crunchy, and crabby. They have it in the off season as well, but I was told that they're using fresh dungeness right now.

            1. Thanks everyone for the tips! I was thinking today that I've had lots of types of crabs- king, blue, peekytoe, snow, but never dungeness, so I'm looking forward to making it a possibility wherever I go.

              1. No question! Go to Yuet Lee (or some other reputable Cantonese seafood joint) at Stockton and Broadway for a salt and pepper crab. Chase it with some greens and noodles and maybe also some scrambled eggs and prawns. That's what I'd do. That's what I've done, as a matter of fact.

                1. Hi- sorry it's taken me so long to get back, and to thank you all for the recommendations.

                  We had crab at 2 places: R & G Lounge and Woodhouse Fish on Market.

                  R&G- Salt and Pepper Crab. Went for lunch on a Saturday noonish- no wait . Very tasty coating, great flavor, and good vibe- but was struck by how much bloody work for small reward. for $38, I probably wouldn't drop that much for this dish again, even as finger-licking good as it was. We also got a pork and veg dish that was delicious, my husband ordered it, and I don't recall the name, sorry.

                  Woodhouse the next day for dinner- that's what I'm talking about! More crab, more flavors (we got a whole crab, hot with the white wine, lemon, garlic butter), and that was messy and delicious, and seemed to have more crab in the crab, if that makes sense. For $28, it was a "just right" price point. Nice oysters, too. I'd definitely go here again.

                  Thanks all for the help and suggestions!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                    Glad it worked out. Thanks for reporting back.

                      1. re: caviar_and_chitlins

                        Good stuff. For future reference, another option is actually fisherman's wharf, and local safeway stores. Outside, at a couple of spots, they have mounds of live crab. Ask for live, have it steamed and cracked while you watch. Do not take the sad little plates of premade. You can even look at weights, and try to get a "heavy". They will wrap it up in a bit of paper there, or the safeway (safeway is usually pre-steamed thus not quite as good), and you can walk somewhere else - a park, a bit of water) and poke through your crab.

                        Benefit: lower price, less sauce.

                        Dungeness is a more delicate crab than Blue or similar. It takes poorly to crab cakes (don't even try), and is best eaten right out of the shell. Even after cracking, the flavor goes down quickly; I don't know why.

                        Nothing better than an acme sour batard, a fresh steamed and cracked, and a west coast beer.

                        Think about it for your next trip...

                      2. I was at Hayes St. Grill last week and they had half a crab and salad for $20 bucks. One of my friends ordered it and said it was excellent. The wait staff said it was local and the price sort of lines up with that.