It's oyster season in San Francisco! And, along with the Dungeness crab season that comes later in November, it is one of my favorite times of the year in the Bay Area! San Francisco is lucky to have oysters all year round, but at this time of year, there are far more varieties to choose from. I wanted to share my favorites so here are 5 places to eat oysters in San Francisco.
And maybe, just maybe, if you hit all these places, maybe you'll end up with enough pearls to make a necklace as my friend and illustrator Carrie Campbell depicts below (thanks Carrie!).
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Hog Island Oyster
A beloved spot for tourists and locals alike, Hog Island Oyster is popular for a reason. They offer local (and regional) sustainable oysters with delicious wines and beer to wash them down. The vast majority of their oyster comes from their oyster farm in Marshall, on Tomales Bay, and they even have farm tours. Check them out in the Ferry Building (go early to avoid lines) or in Napa at the Oxbo Market if you are out in wine country.
P.S. If you've got a non-oyster-loving friend in your dining group, they make a killer grilled cheese sandwich.
I confess, I go to the Waterbar for their lobster roll, fried pickles, and fabulous martinis, but they also have a fantastic oyster bar. You can not find a better view of the Bay Bridge (they're located right on the Embarcadero), they've got a great terrace for outdoor dining as well, but I love to sit at the zinc bar and fill up on delicious oysters, especially during happy hour (more on those later).
Swan Oyster Depot
People either love or hate the Swan Oyster Depot. The most common description of the counter in the 100+-year-old fish market is “no-frills.” Personally, with the quality of oysters they serve, I don't care about the frills! I will say, given the size of the counter, it is extremely tough to get into, but so worth it. Go early to the Nob Hill location (1517 Polk St) and make friends, the service is great (all family), and please note it is CASH only!
Anchor and Hope
I am not sure if I love Anchor and Hope for its oysters or their housemade potato chips! Paired with a beer, sometimes I never want to leave. Besides the fresh oysters which are always amazing, they have a dish called ‘Angels on Horseback' which are smoked bacon-wrapped oysters served with a remoulade sauce, worth every bite! I know you are here for oysters, but they have one of the best fish and chips in town as well!
Anchor Oyster Bar
Serving out of its Castro Street location since 1977, the Anchor Oyster Bar has a loyal following and was just added to the Michelin Guide's Bib Gourmand list this year. They focus on sustainably harvested seafood, including succulently fresh oysters. The staff is very knowledgeable and they know the perfect oysters for beginners to try should you find yourself with newbies.
Oyster Happy Hours
San Francisco has dozens of spots for oyster happy hours! You can get fresh, inexpensive oysters after work in nearly any part of town. 7×7 has a guide that gives you 36 oyster happy hour spots and Eater's has their favorite oyster deals heat-mapped.
Not your Mama's Oyster
I had to share two oyster dishes that are a little unique.
Tadich Grill's Hangtown Fry with eggs, bacon, and fresh oysters and a classic hangover meal for many San Francisco natives. You can get fresh oysters as well from the city's oldest restaurant along with their famous cioppino.
How about you? Are you a fan of oysters? Do you have a favorite spot you go to get them? A favorite way of serving or cooking them? Do tell!
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