Swan Oyster Depot --- do they locals actually like it or is it merely a sucks for bucks type of tourist trap ???? [San Francisco]
re: Melanie Wong
It's not a tourist trap in the Pier 39 sense. However, you could question the sanity of the tourists who stand in line for an hour on Polk when you can get good oysters more conveniently elsewhere. Sometimes, restaurants get a little more popular with tourists than they might deserve even if they weren't originally designed to be tourist traps in the wikipedia sense of the word. The Slanted Door and Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach come to mind.
Well. I also thought the prices where high too.
For instance, about 5 years back, I had a crab Louise, a few oysters (no more than 3), a small clam chowder, and an anchor steam on tap and it was 50 dollars before tip.
Also, on my way to the John in there I saw huge gallon size cans of Cambell's clam chowder, unless that was only there for decor and homeyness.
One time I waited on line for over an hour. While another time I got there around 10am on a weekday and surprise surprise surprise there was no line.
i love it.
i have waited in line and loved it.
i like going at 10:45 or 11:00 when the line is minimal.
the chowder is well-known to be Campbells. i don't go there for the chowder (though i've had it and i like it - maybe they doctor it up?).
i go there for the steamed crab with crab butter, the shrimp cocktail, their homemade thousand island dressing, the Boudin bread, the white fish, the oysters, the smoked salmon, the sashimi (not on the regular menu, i think) in olive oil and capers, the muscadet, and most of all, the ambiance, the experience, and to have those rough and ready men serve me. it's a casual and cozy place, especially nice on a rainy day. i'm making myself want to go back right now.
i'm not really sure how you could have spent that much with what you ordered, looking at the menu.... it's definitely not cheap, a bit of a splurge, but for me, it's a comforting one.
It's one of many, many places which are beloved by locals but which now caters mainly to tourists. Locals typically go elsewhere, without lines, looking for lower prices. It's the kind of place that's nice to revisit, but for most of us, that visit is a once in a blue moon event.
I'm more likely to go to Tadich or Anchor Oyster Bar.