San Francisco

The 13 Best Seafood Restaurants in San Francisco

From lobsters, oysters, and Dungeness crab to SF's signature cioppino.

Photo courtesy of Waterbar
Photo courtesy of Waterbar
Photo courtesy of Waterbar

Considering our city’s location between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay, it’s no surprise that we have some of the best seafood in the country. This is especially true for the SF trifecta of Dungeness crab, oysters, and our signature cioppino-an Italian-American fish stew that originated in our fine City by the Bay. But with great seafood comes a great number of standout seafood restaurants. That’s why we’ve fished around to find the very best spots to enjoy the best traditional and creative preparations of crustaceans, mollusks, and other bounties from the ocean. These include a few pricey upscale restaurants, some worthwhile tourist destinations, and a couple of raw bars and crab shacks where you won’t have to, ahem, shell out a ton of clams for an unforgettable seafood feast. Here are our 13 favorite seafood restaurants in San Francisco: 

Photo courtesy of Scoma's Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Scoma’s Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Scoma’s Restaurant

Scoma’s Restaurant

Fisherman’s Wharf
Scoma’s is one of SF’s most classic seafood restaurants, serving “pier-to-plate” fare from local fishermen who bring their daily catch directly to the restaurant’s pier. Obviously, that means that the best thing to order is whatever was just reeled in, including the cioppino with Dungeness crab, scallops, shrimp, clams, mussels, and the market fish. But, no judgment at all, sometimes you just want a really good fish fillet sandwich, and when that happens, Scoma’s-prepared with fresh flounder and served with fennel slaw, salad, and fries-always hits the spot. Whatever you order, you’ll be enjoying it with water views indoors and out (especially as long as they keep the pandemic-era outdoor dining in the waterfront parking lot). And you can even enjoy it during weekend brunch where you’ll find a very over-the-top Bloody Mary that is almost a meal unto itself.
How to book: Reservations are available on Yelp.

Hog Island Oyster Co.

Embarcadero
The best way to enjoy Hog Island Oyster Co.’s oysters is at The Boat Oyster Bar on the oyster farm in Marshall, where you’ll get to eat them fresh out of the water while drinking great wine and sitting at a waterside picnic table. But, if you’re not in the mood to make the drive (or can’t snag a very hard-to-get reservation), the Ferry Building restaurant is an exceptional second choice. There, you’ll find seating (indoors and out) overlooking the Bay, seafood fresh off the boats, produce from local farmers markets, and excellent cocktails. You’ll also find one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in SF, which we understand has nothing to do with seafood but is still very much worth an order.
How to book: Walk-ins only.

Sotto Mare

North Beach
This homey family-run seafood spot in North Beach, complete with nautical decor covering every inch of every wall, is the ideal union of authentic Italian food and fresh seafood. The restaurant is famous for its “Best Damn Crab Cioppino” for very good reason, but the oysters, cold-cracked Dungeness crab, prawns, and shrimp cocktail, all of the Louis salads a girl or guy could want, and sauteed or grilled fish are all shining stars. That being said, it’s almost impossible not to order one of the pasta seafood dishes because who can resist linguine with a mountain of seafood? 
How to book: Call 415-398-3181 for reservations for three or more people.

Photo courtesy of La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Photo courtesy of La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Photo courtesy of La Mar Cebicheria Peruana

La Mar Cebicheria Peruana

Embarcadero
This massive Peruvian seafood restaurant on the water has some of the best cebiche you’ll find in San Francisco. The tiradito made with sushi-grade ahi tuna is also beyond flavorful. And you have to order the limeña causa made with whipped purple potatoes and topped with a Dungeness crab salad, avocado, and tomato. Also, they’re not seafood, but the empanadas are outstanding. Want to try it all? The way to go is to order the Bandeja Cebichera (includes the cebiche, causa, and tiradito, plus nigiri) or the “Experience La Mar” (basically everything mentioned, plus a grilled catch of the day). La Mar also has excellent cocktails, so be sure to start with one of those and always ask for seating on the outdoor (heated and enclosed) patio if you want to maximize the water views.
How to book: Reservations are available on OpenTable

Courtesy of Waterbar
Courtesy of Waterbar
Courtesy of Waterbar

Waterbar

Embarcadero
At Waterbar, you’re not just paying for the great seafood, you’re paying for great seafood that is fresh-caught and sustainably sourced with respect to the season and the sea-definitely worth it. You’re also paying for the panoramic views of the Bay that you’ll get no matter where you sit-also definitely worth it. All of the tables are great, but if the weather permits and you can snag one on the patio, that’s the way to go-usually more feasible for a seafood lunch or a happy hour-2 pm to 5 pm, daily. And about that happy hour: It’s actually many happy hours, at least in terms of oysters; one featured oyster is just $1.05 every day between 11:30 am and 5 pm, which makes the $28 lobster roll feel much more reasonable.
How to book: Reservations are available on OpenTable.

Hook Fish Co.

Outer Sunset
This bustling fish market and seafood shack is the brainchild of a couple of guys who grew up surfing and fishing in California, with a passion for taking care of the ocean. That passion inspired them to create a place where people could buy thoughtfully sourced seafood and better support local fisherpeople by cutting out the middleman. Sure, that’s something a lot of high-end SF restaurants already do, but at Hook Fish Co, not only is the fish something you can feel good about eating, it’s also super tasty and very reasonably priced. (Hence why there’s always a line during peak hours). The menu is pretty simple: poke, ceviche, burritos, and tacos with grilled fish, a blackened fish sandwich, fish and chips, and a couple of salads. The coolest part? You can look at the wall above the kitchen to find out the vessel the fish were caught on, the method used to catch them, and the port they came into.
How to book: Walk-ins only.

Woodhouse Fish Company

Duboce Triangle and the Fillmore
Woodhouse is an excellent choice when you’re in the mood to enjoy a Dungeness crab or lobster sandwich with chips and slaw in a very nautical-kitsch setting. The seafood is all very fresh, the Dungeness crab cakes are way more crab than filler, and there’s strawberry shortcake for dessert. Think of it as the kind of place you go for an early dinner when you want quality seafood without any pomp and circumstance.
How to book: Walk-ins only.

Courtesy of Bar Crudo
Courtesy of Bar Crudo
Courtesy of Bar Crudo

Bar Crudo

Divisadero Corridor
This modern raw bar has supported local producers and served sustainable seafood, including a very popular chowder, since it opened its doors in 2005. It pivoted recently to add some Mexican flavor to the concept, which, even though change sometimes freaks us out, turned out to be a smart move. You can still get the favorites, specifically the crudo, oysters, and that chowder, but now you can also get tacos with crispy cod, grilled prawns, and seared scallops, and chips and guacamole to start. It’s pretty much the perfect marriage. We’re certain Ariel would agree.
How to book: Reserve a table on Resy.

Anchor Oyster Bar

Castro
This seafood restaurant and fish market has been delighting Castro diners with fresh, sustainably caught seafood since 1977. Always check the specials board-that’s where you’ll find the best dishes, like an open-faced crab and shrimp melt, crab-stuffed mushrooms, and, when available, the cracked Dungeness crab. The crab cake entree with housemade tartar sauce and roasted potatoes that’s served with a cup of chowder (or a green salad, but just ignore that option) never ceases to be exactly what you want: delicious, comforting, and satisfying.
How to book: Walk-ins only.

Courtesy of La Ciccia
Courtesy of La Ciccia
Courtesy of La Ciccia

La Ciccia

Noe Valley
La Ciccia is one of our favorite romantic restaurants in the city, but even if you’re single, it will only take one bite of the fusilli with sea urchin, tomato, and grated tuna heart for you to fall head-over-heels in love. Truly, everything on the Sardinia-inspired and seafood-forward menu of this cozy, husband-and-wife-owned spot feels incredibly thoughtful and is all utterly delizioso.
How to book: For reservations, call the restaurant directly at 415-550-8114 or reserve on their website or OpenTable.

Courtesy of Fog Harbor Fish House
Courtesy of Fog Harbor Fish House
Courtesy of Fog Harbor Fish House

Fog Harbor Fish House

Fisherman’s Wharf
Are there two restaurants in Fisherman’s Wharf on this list? Shell yeah there are, and we refuse to apologize for reasons that are explicitly explained in the neighborhood’s name. It’s just a fact that if you want fresh catch, you should go to where the people who catch it are. Plus, Fog House takes major advantage of one of the best attributes of that neighborhood-truly stunning views of the water and the Golden Gate Bridge. Besides the views, Fog House also serves up 100% sustainable seafood, sourdough bread that is baked in-house every hour, and lick-your-fingers-good garlic, whole-roasted Dungeness crab. The menu is extensive, so if you’re not willing to put in the work for the crab, there are plenty of tasty dishes where the kitchen has done all of the heavy lifting for you, and all you have to do is get your fork to your mouth.
How to book: Reserve a table on Yelp.

Angler

Embarcadero
Chef Joshua Skenes (previously the chef at Saison) is the driving force behind this “sea-life focused” restaurant on the Embarcadero, much of which is cooked over the star of the restaurant, a 32-foot-long hearth and wood-fire grill. Absolutely order something from that section of the menu, but don’t skip the bivalves straight from the tank. (Or the parker house rolls with cultured seaweed butter.) The space is impressive-two dining rooms, both with sweeping views of the Bay Bridge and impeccable decor, so much so that you’ll figure out right when you walk in that you’re going to walk out substantially poorer (but also completely satisfied).
How to book: Make a reservation on Resy.

Courtesy of Swan's Oyster Depot
Courtesy of Swan’s Oyster Depot
Courtesy of Swan’s Oyster Depot

Swan Oyster Depot

Lower Nob Hill
A “Best Seafood in SF” list is incomplete unless it includes the city’s seafood mecca: Swan Oyster Depot. People start lining up at this fish market/raw bar before it even opens to get a coveted spot at the 16-seat counter (the only place to sit) and order as much seafood as they can handle. The most popular things to order are the Sicilian sashimi, uni (when it’s available), oysters, and for the more adventurous: crab backs-the liver, fat, and innards of a crab served in its shell with salty, buttery broth, perfect for dipping sourdough. Not convinced? Anthony Bourdain, who called Swan Oyster Depot his “happy place,” described crab backs as “unicorn juice.” But even if you stick to the basics, like a seafood cocktail or a Louis salad with a cup of chowder, you’ll leave happy and sated.
How to book: Walk-ins only; cash only. 

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat!

Daisy Barringer is a freelance writer who grew up in San Francisco and will never stop trying to convince people that Fisherman’s Wharf is actually kind of amazing. See where else she’s eating on Instagram @daisysf.

San Francisco

How to Celebrate Black History Month in San Francisco

Support and celebrate SF's Black community.

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Though it’s something we need to be doing every day of every month of every year, Black History Month encourages us to pay tribute to the struggles and oppression generations of Black Americans have faced, as well as their often-neglected triumphs and achievements that have helped shape this county and make it better. It’s a time to reflect on how we can do better to confront racism and oppression, which this year’s theme, “Black Resistance,” echoes. This is especially important in a town like San Francisco, where the Fillmore District was known as “the Harlem of the West” before the city displaced a vast portion of the neighbourhood’s Black community in the ’60s and ’70s. This displacement continues today, as the Black population is the only racial group that has declined in every census since 1970.

If you’re looking for ways to celebrate Black History Month, there are lots to do. Whether you want to educate yourself by attending films, performances, or conversations, share the joy at a parade or dance party, or do a little bit of it all at a drag show, here are just a few ways you can get involved and have a lot of fun while doing so:

Visit San Francisco Public Library branches for workshops, films, performances, and more

February (and throughout the year)
Library branches and online
SFPL’s “More Than a Month” celebration focuses on the theme of resistance this year. Family-friendly and adult events include film screenings, musical performances, book clubs, workshops, and more.
Cost: Free

Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora
Museum of African Diaspora

See art, poetry, films, talks, and more at MoAD

February (and throughout the year)
SoMa
Right now, at the Museum of African Diaspora, you can see the first and only West Coast exhibition of “The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion,” which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion designers “whose images present radically new perspectives on the medium of photography and art, race and beauty, and gender and power.” The museum, which has a robust year-round program and event calendar, has a slew of events to attend, including youth poetry readings, film screenings, open mic nights, book clubs, artist talks, and more.
Cost: Event prices vary; GA to visit the museum is $12 but free every second Saturday of the month

Check out films, art, reading, talks, and more at BAMPFA

February (and throughout the year)
Berkeley
There is always something interesting to discover at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). During Black History Month, you can see films by Pratibha Parmar, “Felwine Sarr: Music, Freedom, Africa,” a conversation through music with the Senegalese writer, scholar, composer, musician, and more.
Cost: Varies

Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe
Old Skool Cafe

Enjoy menu specials honoring Black community members at Old Skool Cafe

February (and throughout the year)
Bayview
For Black History Month, Old Skool Cafe is adding the favourite meals of notable Black community members to the menu each weekend. The nonprofit, youth-run supper club helps at-risk, formerly incarcerated, and foster care youth ages 16-22 gain the skills and experience they need to succeed in various front and back-of-house restaurant roles. Bayview hero/community advocate Mrs. Dorris Vincent is first up, followed by Judge Trina Thompson, Delroy Lindo, and Mayor London Breed.

Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens
Yerba Buena Gardens

Walk beneath the Marting Luther King, Jr. Memorial waterfall

February (and ongoing)
Yerba Buena Gardens
Did you know that Yerba Buena Gardens is home to the country’s second-largest memorial to Dr. King? Visit the sculptural waterfall featuring glass panels inscribed with his inspiring words at 750 Howard Street.
Cost: Free

Attend the Commonwealth’s “Dreaming Forward: A Celebration of Black Joy, Power, and Excellence” conference

Thursday, February 9
Embarcadero
On behalf of Dr. Sheryl Evans Davis and the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, the Commonwealth Club is hosting its second annual Dream Keeper Initiative, a day-long conference/celebration/call-to-action featuring special guests, including April Ryan of TheGrio and CNN.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays
Courtesy of Oakland First Fridays

Celebrate Black Love at Oakland First Fridays

Friday, February 10
Telegraph Avenue from West Grand to 27th Street
Telegraph Avenue transforms into a dining, shopping, and art-appreciating party on Friday, February 10, from 5 pm to 9 pm. There will be food, artist, and retail vendors and a host of Black artists, authors, and entertainment. Please note: This event was rescheduled from February 3 because of potential rain.
Cost: Free

Have a ball at an all-Black drag show at Oasis

Friday, February 10
SoMa
“Reparations with Latrice Royale” is an all-Black drag show hosted by Latrice Royale, the beloved Drag Race star who also happens to be celebrating her birthday.
Cost: $15 to $60

Dance all night and shop all day at the Afro Soca Love carnival and marketplace

Friday, February 10 ‚Äď Saturday, February 11
341 13th Street, Oakland
Afro Soca Love creates experiences that act as a “gateway to building bonds and strengthen relationships-between communities, individuals, and Africa and its diaspora.” See for yourself at the all-ages marketplace (Saturday), where you’ll find food and drink, fashion, beauty and wellness, home decor, and more. But before the shopping comes the dancing at the 21+ Friday Night Carnival, a culturally immersive music experience with music from all over the world.
Cost: The marketplace is free; tickets to the Friday Night Carnival start at $20

See a live performance of “Words That Made the Difference: Brown vs. the Board of Education”

Saturday, February 11
Unity Palo Alto
See a live theatrical performance based on the true events that occurred in the fight to end school segregation. The script draws from trial transcripts of the five cases brought together in front of the Supreme Court and Chief Justice Earl Warren’s memoirs, and the play is set in the courtrooms where it all happened. There will be a Q&A with the playwright before the performance and the cast afterward.
Cost: Free

Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company
Courtesy of San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company

Go to the I, Too, Sing America album release party

Saturday, February 11
Mission
Head to the Brava Theater Center to celebrate the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Company’s album release of the music created for I, Too, Sing America, a soulful and uplifting performance that moved audiences when it debuted last year. The night includes an album-listening and sing-along party, DJs, dancing, an open bar, and more.
Cost: $40

Go on the Black Liberation Walking Tour of West Oakland

Saturday, February 18
West Oakland
Take a walk with David Peters, founder of the West Oakland Cultural Action Network, and Gene Anderson, the author of Legendary Locals of Oakland, to learn about resident voices and document sites of cultural and historical significance in the neighbourhood. Peters is a local native, and Anderson is an Oakland historian whose family has historical roots in West Oakland.
Cost: $50 ($30 for West Oakland residents)

See a screening of The Black Kung Fu Experience followed by in-person demonstrations

Sunday, February 19
Great Star Theater, Chinatown
The Chinese Historical Society of America is celebrating Black History Month and social unity with a screening of this film about how a group of African American pioneers became respected in a subculture dominated by Chinese and white men. Afterward, there will be demonstrations and talks with Sifu Donald Hamby and Sifu Troy Dunwood, who “will speak about their success as internationally recognized martial arts masters, their Chinese Kung Fu teachers, and what this practice means in relation to diversity, race and inclusion issues.”
Cost: $15

Sip wine made by Black winemakers at a free tasting event at STEM Kitchen + Garden

Thursday, February 23
Dogpatch
STEM Kitchen + Garden is hosting an afternoon wine tasting celebrating Black-owned wineries in its gorgeous indoor/outdoor space, and best of all, and it’s free to the public!
Cost: Free

Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House
Bayview Opera House

Attend the San Francisco African American Arts & Cultural District Gala Fundraiser

Saturday, February 25
Bayview Opera House
Enjoy an evening of talent, fashion, and community inspiration at SFAAACD’s 1st Annual Gala Fundraiser. Carla Duke, Television News Director at CBS-KPIX Chanel 5, will host the event, which includes inspiring words from keynote speaker Aniyia Williams, an artist, tech creator, and system-preneur.
Cost: $100

Attend a Black History Month & Chinese New Year Poetry Reading on Angel Island

Saturday, February 25
Angel Island
There is so much history in poetry at the Angel Island Detention Barracks Museum, which makes it a fitting location for poets Chun Yu and Michael Warr. The co-founders of Two Languages/One Community will share their poems and stories in English and Chinese, accompanied by projected images of text and photographs.
Cost: $10 to $21

Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade
Courtesy of Black Joy Parade

Feel the joy at the Black Joy Parade

Sunday, February 26
Downtown Oakland
This parade and festival celebrate the “Black experience past, present, and future.” Be prepared to experience “more Black joy than you ever imagined,” starting with the parade (beginning at 14th and Franklin) at 12:30 pm. The family-friendly festival follows (main entrance is at 19th and Franklin) will include 200-plus Black-owned small businesses selling food, drinks, clothing, art, and more. There will also be two stages with Black performers, including The Black Joy Choir.
Cost: Free

Take a sound bath at Grace Cathedral in honor of Black History Month

Monday, February 27
Nob Hill
Take an immersive sound bath featuring Fractals of Sound, a collective of top Bay Area musicians Egemen Sanli, Phoenix Song, and Sam Jackson, with special guest Destiny Muhammad. Together, they will create a “soundscape deeply rooted in world music,” allowing you to take a meditative journey in one of the most beautiful places in San Francisco.
Cost: $25 to $75

See Tsitsi Dangarembga and Angela Davis at City Arts & Lectures

Tuesday, February 28
Civic Center
Co-presented with MoAd, City Arts & Lectures is hosting novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga and scholar and activist Angela Davis for what’s sure to be a riveting conversation.
Cost: $36

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Daisy Barringer¬†is an SF-based freelance writer who spent many childhood days wandering around the Exploratorium. Follow her on¬†Instagram¬†to see what she’s up to now.

Related

Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.