In between trips I met up with a friend in the City and I had really wanted to go to Swan Oyster Depot. Swan is a century old institution on Polk Street. A seafood market and a lunch counter. Yes the line is long, and yes the seafood can probably be had for much cheaper at any number of places. It’ll probably be just as fresh and just as good. But there’s something so undeniably old-school San Francisco about this place; the guys that run the counter are so conversational and the atmosphere is much like a local grocer (which in fact it is a local fish monger) that I feel its worth the extra 15% in price to come and sit and eat some of the best and freshest seafood this side of Tsukiji
We started with some bread and clam chowder – as you do in San Francisco, you need sourdough. If I was picking nits, I’d note that the clam chowder is actually more watery than I like it to be, but I understand this is how its served traditionally.
Here’s the view from the counter.
Oysters! A half dozen selection – kummamotos, bay points and I forget the third variety. Excellent.
I also went with a crab salad. Old school cocktail sauce over succulent sweet dungeness crab.
Here’s the fresh fish window.
All in all, while it was expensive (I think I spent about $30 and still wasn’t exactly full) the seafood was screamingly fresh and delicious and the entire neighborhood feel of the place which is disappearing from both San Francisco and well, most places, was extremely charming.
1517 Polk St San Francisco, CA 94109
Price: Pretty damn expensive. And slightly touristy. But also, lots of locals.