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tall order from my Japanese client: "typical" san francisco seafood restaurant, not terribly inconvenient from SFO, maybe Pacifica?

HELP! I'm local and consider myself pretty knowledgeable about our food scene, but he's got me stumped. Arrives at 6:30 on Friday and he wants me to take him to a non-stuffy, casual place that serves good local seafood, BUT (here's the kicker...) not too much of a haul from the airport. Willing to go into the city, but trying to avoid N. Beach/downtown/Fisherman's wharf which wipes out most places I can think of and/or recommended by others on this board. Is there anything in Pacifica?! Thanks in advance for your wisdom!

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  1. Barbara's Fish Shack is about as casual as it gets - but good fresh seafood, maybe a bit of a wait (I don't think they take reservations).

    1 Reply
    1. re: estnet

      thanks, estnet. If possible, hoping for something closer than the 30 min. drive to Half Moon Bay...

    2. Here's an early report on Moonraker in Pacifica.

      The local commercial salmon season just opened yesterday.

      You might be better off eating at Yankee Pier in the airport.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Yankee Pier is past security, so it could work for the visitor but not for the local.

        My choice would be Anchor and Hope (http://anchorandhopesf.com/). It's in SOMA so it's more convenient to the airport than the neighborhoods you mention. It's definitely non-stuffy and casual, and they serve a mix of local and east coast fish and seafood.


        1. re: Melanie Wong

          I haven't been back to Moonraker since my previous post. The reviews on the other website are not looking very good, lots of complaints about the food. They still don't offer a good variety on their menu and nothing that screams local or seasonal.

          They have added an early bird pre fixe menu and Sunday brunch.

          Wouldn't recommend it to the OP. Too risky and more expensive than it should be.

          The OP didn't say where his guest is going after dinner. The Fish Market in Foster City would be a good choice, but it's the opposite direction from the City. Old Clam House is an easy on/off of 101, but your guest would have to be a bit adventurous or they might be put off by that neighborhood.

        2. The best seafood around SFO is Chinese, but that's probably not what he wants.

          Kincaid's, chain place, not great but very American, just down the road from SFO. Sodini's Bertolucci's in South SF. Maybe the Old Clam House.

          Since you have to drive around the hills, Pacifica's a longer drive from the airport than many parts of SF.

          1. I think it really depends on how much energy you want to put into this.

            I would recommend Fish Market in Foster City. It's fairly casual but slightly upscale, it's on the lagoon / water, and they do have good local fish. better than Kincaid's or anything like that.

            If you want to go whole hog, I think you'd have to do Half Moon Bay - but that's a haul. 40 minutes minimum.

            But - I think you should rethink the city idea. Remember that getting _to_ the city isn't bad, it's getting _across_ the city that kills you. In particular, consider Skool. It's hip, it's SF, and it's 20 minutes from the airport by Google Maps.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bbulkow

              6:30 on Friday, SFO to SF might be more than 20 minutes, especially with a Giants game starting at 7:15.

              1. re: bbulkow

                I second the rec on the Fish Market (properly in San Mateo, not Foster City) but I don't think it's upscale, unless you go upstairs to Top of the Market. Downstairs is very casual, and you can sit at the small counter area in the waiting area to make it even more casual (you can watch the counter guy cook your steamers right there). Patio dining is nice in good weather.

              2. I was intially going to say Tadich Grill, but that's probably not casual enough. But what about the Old Port Lobster Shack in Redwood City? More New England than California, but good fresh seafood, near the airport, and very casual.

                2 Replies
                1. re: The Librarian

                  In a similar vein with more of a West Coast focus there's Woodhouse in SF.

                  1. re: The Librarian

                    Good idea but not locally sourced seafood....mostly lobster and clam...and further south than Fish Market in San Mateo.

                  2. Casual and local fish in SF is a tough one.

                    I'd try Pacific Cafe on Geary and 33rd. It's been around forever, casual, definite California vibe. It looks the part. I'd get the Petrale Sole (local), local salmon or dungeness crab (even if it's not local given season). I have not been there for more than 15 years.

                    Another place is Pacific Catch (two locations in SF). I've never been but have walked by the one on 9th/Lincoln a bunch of times. Seems casual and un-stuffy but don't know the food. If I'm there, I go to Park Chow.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ML8000

                      I LOVE Pacific Catch. I bring visitors there often.

                      The one near Golden Gate Park has a (small) parking lot, and I've always been able to find parking nearby if not in the lot.

                    2. Considering the requirements I would consider the Old Clam House. It's very casual (at least by the Japanese client standard), the interior has been completely remodeled recently (so it's neat and clean), but in a very "San Francsisco" style, focus is on seafood and it's 10 miles up 101 from the airport. I've eaten there once, and while I would prefer to go to Sotto Mare, every thing we had was good. Full bar, wine mark-ups were kind of high for what was on the list.

                      1. You guys are awesome!! Appreciated the insight on Moonraker bc I'd considered it. Robert, totally agree with you about Chinese! Took him to Koi palace last time and he loved it. Pacific cafe is good, but location is super inconvenient. And THANK YOU for the giants game reminder!! Intrigued by old clam house but the recent reviews and news about change in ownership have me worried. Didn't know about Fish Market but will look into it. At this point leaning toward skool, ease of access and able to make reservations. Never been, which makes me nervous but as long as they have fresh seafood he'll be happy.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: dosankosan

                          The Old Clam House's change in ownership could only be an improvement.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            Exactly. Would have never recomended Old Clam House before. Now it's good, albiet a little corporate.

                          2. re: dosankosan

                            Note that Skool serves up Japanese-style dishes, maybe not as interesting for your client. I do like the place though.

                            And everything I've heard about the new management at Old Clam House is that it's a big improvement.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              Old Clam House is one of the oldest restaurants in the city - or was before the remodel - and is freeway convenient. It's just a little closer to the airport - but near giants gametime, that'll matter a lot. Japanese will love it - it's like a little yakitori place under the railroad tracks.

                              Skool is close to the giants ballpark. Uni Flan.

                              Check out Fish Market. It is all about local sourcing - and salmon is now.

                              1. re: bbulkow

                                Fish Market rec is growing on me because it is south and in the opposite direction of game traffic and especially because it's right on the lagoon for a taste of the outdoors. Offers a choice of casual (downstairs) or more formal (upstairs). I used to work near there and often had biz lunches there. Trying to remember what I used to get, I think it was a crab Caesar salad. Used to rent a dinghy to sail in the lagoons during lunch to relieve mid-day stress. My most enduring memory is of sailing by Fish Market's patio past diners waving at me . . . and then dropping my sail in the water and almost capsizing. My one consolation in that embarassing moment was that I figured that if I went into the drink, the onlookers at Fish Market would summon help.


                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  I used to work near there too. I had no idea you could rent a boat. How cool!

                                  The other nice thing about Fish Market is that when you first walk in you pass their retail counter, so you get to see all the fish they have fresh that day.

                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                    I worked a couple office buildings away as well. Few business lunches there, though.

                            2. How about the Hayes Street Grill? http://www.hayesstreetgrill.com/dinne...

                              Oh, too late. So where did you go?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: rccola

                                Hayes Street Grill is north of market and hard to park near - doesn't match the OP's spec....

                              2. Thanks for all the input and help! Ended up going to Skool since it was a) easy to get to from SFO and b) had open reservation and c) good reviews. Little iffy at first because we actually arrived early and the bar scene was a bit too hip post-work happy hour crowd for my (relatively...) older client and we couldn't actually get anyone to serve us a drink to save our life.

                                HOWEVER, hostess was attentive and sorted us out before things went too south, and it was smooth sailing from there. The food was non-Japanese enough to be interesting, and the quality of the seafood met his standards. (tall order, among other things, dude is certified sushi chef...) It was my first visit, but won't be the last. I'm eager to hit their brunch/happy hour with dollar oysters! I really appreciated the light touch on the seasonings, so many places really ramp up the salt/soy elements when it comes to fusion-ey foods. If I had to quibble, the pasta in the squid ink pasta was so-so, not the best i've had, but the broth was so rich I can't hold it against them. Did try the uni flan (scallops and uni being two things I can never pass up on a menu...) and found it fun, a nice play on the concept.

                                Appreciated the Fish Market and Old Clam House input...am intrigued enough to try them out sans work obligation one of these days, but (as little stock as I put in yelp...) the recent reviews especially about service going downhill, kind of made me wary. And doing the research made me keen to try a whole bunch of other places, too, so thanks again to all!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: dosankosan

                                  Thanks for reporting back! I'm including a link for those like me to whom Skool is a new place: http://skoolsf.com.


                                  1. re: dosankosan

                                    I'm glad it worked out. Japanese clients are demanding. I hadn't really thought about the Friday bar scene aspect, but I would imagine a Japanese gentleman understanding.