San Francisco is a major port city, surrounded by ocean and bay, and the seafood tradition runs deep. SF has salty old-school restaurants that go back one or two centuries all the way to the Gold Rush, from oyster counters to woodfire grills, and more recently, the city by the bay has also continued to attract bold and modern fish restaurants, several from star chefs. Many prominently feature the local holy trinity: oysters, king salmon, and Dungeness crab, a seasonal treat which truly deserves its own map when in season. But year round and across town, here are the freshest seafood restaurants in San Francisco.Read More
16 Fresh Seafood Restaurants in San Francisco
Where to feast on sweet oysters, the king of salmon, and prized Dungeness crab
1. Fog Harbor Fish House
Situated in a prime-time spot on Pier 39 in Fisherman’s Wharf, Fog Harbor attracts throngs of tourists, but it’s still a really fun seafood feast. Tie on a bib for sourdough bread bowls brimming with clam chowder and piled with lump Dungeness crab meat. The restaurant boasts a big outdoor space with views of the bay and bridge, not to mention the background music of seagulls and sea lions.
2. Scoma's Restaurant
Scoma’s is a seafood institution, literally sitting on the dock of the bay since 1965. Longtime regulars love the warm leather and wood interiors, where they slide into a favorite booth, and chat with servers who have been there for decades. Scoma’s is known for old-school cioppino, strong Manhattans, mixed grill platters, and more.
3. Sotto Mare
The Italian-American classic in North Beach talks big fish game with “the best damn cioppino in San Francisco,” as well as a big hearty menu filled with pasta, risotto, and sand dabs. Its tiled dining room crammed full of memorabilia is the ideal place to strap on a bib and dig into San Francisco’s favorite stew.
4. La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
Just north of the Ferry Building, this modern Peruvian restaurant boasts tall ceilings and big views of the bay. They specialize in several different types of cebiche, lightly cooked in “leche de tigre,” with choices between the catch of the day, ahi tuna, or yellowtail. Make it a full meal with grilled octopus and lomo saltado.
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5. Hog Island Oyster Co.
The big oyster farm that supplies many star restaurants around town is worth the drive up to the picnic tables in Marshall, but it also has a seafood restaurant in the Ferry Building. The classic order is a dozen of their famed sweetwater oysters, but they also have a creamy clam chowder and thick grilled cheese.
6. R & G Lounge
R & G Lounge has been a Chinatown classic since 1985. It’s not exclusively a seafood restaurant, but it’s known for the live crab with salt and pepper, a deep-fried golden icon of Chinese-American food in San Francisco. And there are plenty of other fish on the menu, including prawns with honey walnuts, steamed sea bass, and whole lobster.
7. Tadich Grill
Down where the trolley cars bottom out on California Street, Tadich Grill still stands as the oldest continuously run restaurant in San Francisco, founded in 1849 by Croatian immigrants, so they say. It can be a scene, with white linens on tables, white-jacketed waiters, and it’s bustling at lunch. The seafood is still grilled over mesquite charcoal, and they’re known for cioppino, chowder, and sand dabs.
Angler opened on the Embarcadero in 2018, as a spinoff from Michelin-starred Saison, and it’s focused on seafood, with some luxurious options and add-ons. Fish picks up big flavor in the woodfire oven and smokers, and there are Parker House rolls with cultured seaweed butter, grilled whole lobster and abalone, not to mention urchin, uni, more.
9. Swan Oyster Depot
San Francisco, CA 94109
The legendary fish market accepts no reservations, and usually draws long lines, although as a concession to the pandemic, they now do delivery. Swan’s has a hundred year history dating back to before the 1906 earthquake, and it’s now in the hands of the Sancimino brothers, who have shucked oysters for everyone from Bing Crosby to Anthony Bourdain. Belly up to the bar for oysters of course, and also clam chowder, crab salad, and “Sicilian sashimi.”
10. Waterbar Restaurant
Sister spots Waterbar and Epic Steak are big restaurants at the foot of the Bay Bridge, and while Epic focuses on steak, Waterbar is all things fish. Waterbar has lots of space indoors and outdoors on a couple of different levels, and the brunch power move is a lobster roll and glass of sparkling wine.
11. The Anchovy Bar
The newest restaurant from the State Bird team was actually able to open during the pandemic. It’s an ode to Chef Stuart Brioza’s obsession with anchovies, and when in season, the local little fish are laboriously preserved in house. Year round, there’s also tinned fish from Spain and Italy; oysters, mussels, and clams; and a duo of whipped butters with roe and nori.
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12. Brenda's French Soul Food
Chef Brenda Buenviaje is a Louisiana native, and she brought New Orleans style to her popular restaurant in San Francisco, which now has several different spinoffs and locations. Brenda’s is definitely not strictly seafood — there’s good fried chicken — but there’s lots of fish on the menu, for those craving broiled oysters, barbecue shrimp, crawfish beignets, shrimp and grits, and fried catfish po’boys.
13. PPQ Dungeness Island - San Francisco
The legendary Vietnamese restaurant of the Richmond is known for big family-style Dungeness crab feasts, featuring roasted crab and garlic noodles. It’s a fun time for families and larger groups, but there are also a la carte options.
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14. Woodhouse Fish Company
The MacNiven brothers grew up in the Bay, but their two seafood restaurants in San Francisco are New England inspired. Both offer a fresh and casual menu filled with Dungeness crab rolls, lobster rolls, fish and chips, and fish tacos, and the parklet on Fillmore resembles a boat.
15. Anchor Oyster Bar
Anchor Oyster is a neighborhood classic, holding it down in the Castro since 1977. The cioppino is jammed with mussels and crab claws, and don’t be shy about accepting the bib, it’s a full garlic steam facial. They also sling oysters on the half shell, creamy clam chowder, and chewy sourdough.
16. La Ciccia
La Ciccia is a cozy neighborhood restaurant at the quiet end of Noe Valley, at top of Church and 30th. It’s a Sardinian menu filled with lots of seafood, pasta, and minerally wine. Regulars keep going back for the fresh spaghetti with cured fish roe grated over the top, fresh fettuccine tinted with squid ink, and tender baby octopus.