San Francisco is a major port city, surrounded by ocean and bay, and the seafood tradition runs deep. This city has salty old-school restaurants that go back one or two centuries, from oyster counters to woodfire grills, and more recently, the city by the bay has 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. 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 cioppino
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 known for old-school cioppino, strong Manhattans, mixed grill platters, and ice-cold shrimp cocktails.
There’s no shortage of great Italian restaurants in North Beach, but when it comes to seafood, Portofino earns special praise. The small casual restaurant crouches on Grant Street and cultivates an old-school vibe, in a good way. There’s no website and the best, freshest options are the ones scrawled on the hand-written menu board. Order from the chalkboard list and you’ll be treated to dishes like roasted sardines; whole steaming branzino laid atop a medley of tender vegetables; and squid ink pasta tangled up with chunks of swordfish, saffron, and veggies.
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Both of celebrity chef Dominique Crenn’s restaurants are famously free of meat (at least, the natural kind), and the full tasting menu at her three-Michelin-star stunner Atelier Crenn features plenty of seafood. The pescatarian dishes will change with the menu, but you’re guaranteed to experience all the trappings of a world-class dining experience here — flawlessly warm and professional service, surprising and delightful beverage pairings, and an elegant atmosphere worthy of any special or celebratory occasion.
La Mar Cocina Peruana
Just north of the Ferry Building, this modern Peruvian restaurant boasts tall ceilings, big views of the bay, and a refreshed bar. 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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Hog Island Oyster Co.
The big oyster farm that supplies many star restaurants around town is worth the drive up to Marshall, but it also has an outpost in the Ferry Building. The classic order is a dozen of their famed sweetwater oysters, but they also have creamy clam chowder and thick grilled cheese.
Estiatorio Ornos a Michael Mina Restaurant San Francisco
In mid-2021 San Francisco’s most prolific chef and restaurateur Michael Mina flipped his FiDi flagship restaurant into Estiatorio Ornos, an upscale Mediterranean restaurant that draws inspiration from his Greek heritage and Aqua, the seafood restaurant where he launched himself to stardom more than two decades ago. A fish sommelier will walk you through menu options that range from grilled sea bass to phyllo-crusted sole.
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 flavor in the woodfired oven and smokers, and there are Parker House rolls with cultured seaweed butter, grilled whole lobster and abalone, not to mention urchin, uni, and more.
Sister spots Waterbar and Epic Steak are hulking 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 Cajun fried rockfish sandwich and a glass of sparkling wine.
The Anchovy Bar
This latest restaurant from the State Bird team is 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, as well as a selection of oysters and caviar and hot dishes including Meyer lemon-miso clams and squid with kimchi served over bouncy rice cakes.
Chef Peter Hemsley’s moody new fine dining restaurant earned its first Michelin star this summer, plus a Green star for the restaurant’s efforts toward sustainability. The 10-course menu ($135) teems with seafood of all kinds including a wreath of creamy spot prawns and caviar, skate with green garlic, and even oyster ice cream with tart mignonette foam.
This Divisadero Street standard serves fresh seafood at all hours of the evening, but the happy hour draws big crowds thanks to deals such as $2 oysters or herb- and jalapeño-marinated mussels (all sold by the 1⁄2 dozen or dozen), fish tacos, and seafood chowder. For a fuller meal try one of the crudo, a whole branzino, or a platter of grilled octopus.
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.
Hook Fish Co
Join crowds of Outer Sunset residents and their four-legged friends at Hook Fish Co. for thoughtfully sourced seafood served in burritos, tacos, sandwiches, and atop salads. This is California beach food at its finest, and best enjoyed either on the wooden parklet out front or with your toes in the sand — the restaurant is just two blocks from Ocean Beach.
Thanh Long Restaurant
This understated Vietnamese restaurant out by the beach lays claim to having invented the garlic noodle and crab combination that’s since become a Bay Area staple. Obviously, then, a whole roasted crab seated over a pool of garlicky, peppery butter sauce is a must, along with a bowl of bouncy egg noodles absolutely smothered in more garlic.
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.
The Old Clam House
The Old Clam House, one of the oldest restaurants in the city, made its debut more than 150 years ago and, after an extended COVID-induced closure, finally reopened in 2022. The menu offers just about any seafood dish you could be craving: oysters, calamari, sizzling skillets of shrimp, cioppino, and, of course, clam chowder.