I finally tried one of San Francisco’s most iconic restaurants, Swan Oyster Depot, a casual no frills kind of joint serving up fresh seafood.
Swan Oyster Depot has been open for over 100 years and it’s without a doubt one of the most popular places in the city for delicious simple seafood. It was even featured on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. The tiny restaurant seats a handful of people at a time at the bar so it’s guaranteed that there’s always a line outside. We arrived right when they opened at 10:30am and barely got a seat! By the time we sat down, there was already a line forming outside the door! The menu at Swan Oyster Depot is pretty straight forward. They offer raw oysters and clams on the half shell, various seafood salads and seafood cocktails, various kinds of smoked fish, steamed lobster and crab, and clam chowder.
We started off with raw oysters and clams on the half shell. We tried three types of oysters: two different miyagi types and blue point oysters. We also had cherry stone clams on the half shell which was my first time trying raw clams. These clams were so sweet and delicious, highly recommend trying them!
Next, we had various slices of raw fish such as yellowtail, scallop, salmon, and tuna drizzled with aromatic fruity olive oil and topped with salty briny capers and pieces of sharp red onion. The raw scallops was without a doubt my favorite; extremely sweet and tender.
Since the weather has been rainy and gloomy, we had to try their Boston clam chowder. Their version was slightly thinner than what I’m used to but the flavor was on point.
Lastly, we ordered various kinds of smoked fish which was scrumptious. Other items that people around us ordered were seafood salads (various cooked seafood items on top of lettuce) and seafood cocktails (various seafood items with spicy red sauce). Sometimes they even have fresh sea urchin where they crack it right in front of you!
Since all the seafood is great quality and fresh, you can easily spend a good amount of money here. However, for any tourist or Bay Area native, Swan Oyster Depot is an iconic place worth trying at least once. My overall rating is a 8.5/10.