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11 Best Seafood Spots in the Bay Area

Oyster happy hours, lobster rolls, trout tostadas and sustainably caught fish 'n' chips
August 8, 2017
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by Trevor Felch

Surrounded by water on three sides, it's no surprise San Francisco is chock-full of high-quality seafood restaurants. For this list, we're skipping sushi bars and old standbys like Tadich Grill and Sam's Grill (where you'll find hangtown fry with oysters, or sautéed sand dabs), and instead focusing on exciting seafood-centric restaurants. They're serving everything from Peruvian ceviche to Dungeness crab​ Louie to an outstanding rendition of cioppino — and some are even using local fish like sardines and rock cod with great success. Grab a glass of chablis or an Anchor Steam to wash down SF's 11 best spots for seafood.

Cala
Acclaimed Mexico City chef Gabriela Camara makes her U.S. debut on the Mid-Market/Hayes Valley border, serving unique takes on coastal Mexican cuisine in an airy, white-walled space.

Must-order: Trout tostadas; grilled oysters; rockfish a la talla for two; mezcal or mezcal cocktails
Insider tip: Having no luck with a prime-time reservation? You're not alone. Follow our advice and make a reservation at the communal table up to 72 hours ahead of time.

149 Fell St.; 415-660-7701
 

Hog Island Oyster Co.
Sonoma Coast oyster farm's contemporary seafood eatery parked along the water in the Ferry Building, serving local oysters and clams, plus craft cocktails.

Must-order: Oysters; grilled oysters "Rockefeller-style" with spinach, Pernod and cream; clam chowder; oyster po' boy
Insider tip: This one's popular with tourists and locals alike, so avoid prime times. Those in the know come for an early late lunch or early dinner of oysters, cocktails and a Cowgirl Creamery grilled cheese sandwich.

1 Ferry Building 11 A; 415-391-7117

Petit Marlowe
Intimate French bistro in SoMa from the Big Night Group (Marlowe, Park Tavern) serving oysters and wine in elegant digs with music and Parisian accents.

Must-order: Spanish anchovy deviled eggs with "Caesar filling"; wild King salmon tartare; escargots with garlic and butter; housemade rosé ice cream
Insider tip: What's the perfect accompaniment for all of the oysters and raw fish? The restaurant group's own "Big Night Bubbles," a Crémant de Bourgogne brut rosé by Vitteaut-Alberti. 

234 Townsend St.; 415-923-8577

Bar Crudo
Hip, casual NoPa seafood restaurant known for its raw-bar menu and $1 oysters happy hour, also serving chowder and a long beer and wine list.

Must-order: Oysters; herb and jalapeño-marinated mussels; uni and avocado toast; any crudo; seafood chowder
Insider tip: Happy hour can get crazy at Bar Crudo at 5 PM. Come at 6 PM, grab a seat after the first wave of diners leave, and then stick around for a more civilized dinner once the deals end at 6:30 PM.

655 Divisadero St.; 415-409-0679
 

Swan Oyster Depot
This legendary Polk Gulch no-frills counter-serve eatery and fish market is a revered Bay Area landmark for raw-bar fare and casual seafood.

Must-order: Dungeness crab salad with Louie dressing; oysters; smoked salmon; shrimp cocktail; off-menu Sicilian sashimi
Insider tip: An experience at Swan Oyster Depot is very much improvisational, given the unknown wait times, limited menus and daily secret items. Chat up the Sancimino family and you'll be rewarded with jokes along with your stellar seafood.

1517 Polk St.; 415-673-1101

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Celebrity chef Gastón Acurio's only West Coast outpost offers Peruvian seafood and land classics in a large, partially outdoor space on an Embarcadero pier.

Must-order: Ceviche tasting; classic white tuna tiradito in aji amaraillo leche de tigre; lomo saltado beef stir-fry; pisco sour
Insider tip: Yes, causas (whipped potatoes topped with seafood) are a classic Peruvian dish, but they lack the excitement of the other dishes here. Stick with the ceviches, anticucho skewers, empanadas and other sections.

Pier 1 1/2 The Embarcadero; 415-397-8880

Farallon
Upscale, multilevel Union Square seafood eatery with a raw bar, long wine list and playful undersea-themed decor including jellyfish lamps.

Must-order: Ember-charred abalone; pan-roasted Half Moon Bay ling cod with rustic ratatouille; grilled local squid with cuttlefish ink aïoli; white chocolate spumoni cake
Insider tip: Oysters at happy hour? Go join the crowds elsewhere for that. It's all about caviar here, half off during happy hour in the front Jellyfish Lounge.

450 Post St.; 415-956-6969
 

Hook Fish Co.
A mellow neighborhood fish market and counter-serve seafood shack with beers and wine just blocks off the coast, founded by surfer friends who are equally passionate about catching waves and responsibly caught fish.

Must-order: Ceviche with mango and chips; fish and chips; grilled fish tacos
Insider tip: It doesn't take long for this space to fill up. Head outside and enjoy sidewalk seating that feels like an unofficial parklet with a desert garden design (remember to bundle up).

4542 Irving St.; 949-375-2722

La Ciccia
Noe Valley's adorable, rustic Sardinian spot serves homemade spaghetti, octopus stew and other Mediterranean seafood, plus myriad wines.

Must-order: Baby octopus stew with spicy tomato stew; fresh spaghetti with bottarga; squid ink linguine with seafood sugo; nougat semifreddo for dessert
Insider tip: La Ciccia fills up quickly with reservations for tables, so insiders head straight to the tiny bar, where you can talk with the staff and learn everything you ever wanted to know about Sardinian wines. Also, please don't violate the no-photos rule, which is enforced (and it gets awkward). 

291 30th St.; 415-550-8114
 

Leo's Oyster Bar
Posh FiDi venue with an old-school vibe for oysters, seafood, small bites and a signature lobster roll with uni butter plus wine and classic cocktails.

Must-order: Lobster roll; rock shrimp and bacon toast; salmon roe with salmon tartare bite; hamachi crudo with charred avocado; seafood burger
Insider tip: Leo's is the ultimate under-the-radar weekday power lunch, with satisfying sandwiches and salads plus a martini with pickles that's on point. It's Mad Men for foodies.

568 Sacramento St.; 415-872-9982

Red Hill Station
Seasonal seafood and New American fare plus wine and craft beer in a compact, sailor-inspired Bernal Heights space that is equally kid- and date-friendly.

Must-order: Cioppino; bay shrimp stuffed avocado salad; flight of pot pies; housemade fettucelle with clams and garlic-wine broth
Insider tip: Oysters are $1.50 during happy hour, 3–6 PM. Red Hill Station also has a great kids' menu that is just adventurous enough for young gourmands (fish tacos, shrimp cocktail).

803 Cortland Ave.; 415-757-0480

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