Three sides of San Francisco have a coastline, and these run along both the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. Due to its coastal location, it is hardly surprising that this city has some of the best seafood restaurants in the country. Most of these serve fresh and locally sourced fish and seafood that are served in a variety of creative ways. No two seafood restaurants in this city are the same, with the restaurants varying in terms of style, price, and the type of cuisine served. While some of the restaurants serve traditional local seafood dishes, others have menus that take inspiration from global cuisine. With such a diverse choice of seafood restaurants to choose between, seafood enthusiasts may have trouble deciding which are the best seafood restaurants to enjoy a meal in San Francisco. To give you some ideas of where to dine if you are a seafood lover, here are the 20 best seafood restaurants in San Francisco.
A stylish restaurant, Rintaro uses local ingredients to create sashimi, raw seafood dishes, and grilled seafood with a Japanese twist says Bloomberg. The menu often changes depending on the availability of the ingredients. The restaurant is run by Japanese born chef Sylvian Mishima Brackett, who was formerly the creative director at Chez Panisse.
19. Monsieur Benjamin
Located in Hayes Valley, Monsieur Benjamin is a Parisian bistro with chef Corey Lee at the helm. Specializing in seafood dishes, this restaurant serves food cooked in a French style. This restaurant has even been recommended by other chefs, including Thomas Keller who has said that his favorite dish on the menu is the seafood sausage that is served with a red wine sauce.
18. State Bird Provisions
Owned by married couple Stuart Brozia and Nicole Krasinski, both of whom are chefs, this restaurant serves American-Asian fusion cuisine. They use unusual combinations to create exquisite and unforgettable dishes unlike anything served elsewhere in San Francisco. The concept is to take an American restaurant and add a dim sum model to the service using small plates. State Bird Provisions has an urban-rustic vibe. As this is such a popular restaurant, it is advisable to book a table in advance.
Chef Adam Tortosa has made a name for himself since he opened this restaurant. ‘Robin’ is one of the top spots in San Francisco for those who love sushi. While the menu is full of Japanese dishes, the focus is on showcasing the best California produce. Meals are served in the form of tasting menus, of which there are several options that range in price. It is the ideal opportunity to sample seafood you have never tried before with flavor combinations you would not find anywhere else.
16. Koi Palace
Koi Palace is one of the most expensive seafood restaurants in San Francisco, so it is potentially one to reserve for a special occasion. It is a restaurant that serves American seafood classics with an Asian twist as it is run by a dim sum specialist. One of the most notable dishes on the menu is the deep-fried crab. While there are many places that serve this dish, the crab at Koi Palace stands out against the competition. You will find Koi Palace in Daly City on the outskirts of San Francisco.
15. Waterbar Restaurant
Warebar Restaurant is owned by Pat Kuleto, who also owns several other top restaurants in the area, including Farallon and Boulevard. Along with Mark Franz, Kuleto has aimed to create a restaurant and menu that are creative and visually appealing. Split over two levels, this restaurant is located on the Embarcadero with views of the Bay Bridge. Inside, the design is traditional but with some modern touches, such as vertical fish tanks. The chef at the helm of this restaurant is Chef Parke Ulrich, who uses sustainable ingredients, most of which are sourced locally from San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The menu is constantly changing, but all the dishes are made using innovative combinations to create dishes that are packed with flavor.
14. Pacific Cafe
Pacific Café is a popular seafood restaurant in the Outer Richmond area, so there is often a wait before you are seated at a table. However, diners at this establishment do not mind the wait as complimentary wine is served until you are seated. That is not the only welcoming feature at this restaurant as the décor is warm and inviting with cozy wooden booths. The fish dishes are organized into categories according to how they are cooked, such as grilled, fried, sautéed, or baked. Each day, there are at least half a dozen fish varieties featured on the menu.
13. Sotto Mare
Sotto Mare is an Italian restaurant that specializes in fish and seafood, says Conde Nast Traveler. The restaurant has a warm and homely feel that is perfect for dining out with groups of friends. Seafood and fish dishes are the only options on the menu, so it is not somewhere to bring a mixed party that includes people who prefer meat options or vegetarian dishes. Everything on the menu is either Italian or has an Italian twist. Therefore, pasta dishes feature highly on this menu in North Beach. There is a bar that seats up to 37 people, or diners can sit at one of the indoor or outdoor tables, depending on the weather. The restaurant has a charming old-school ambiance.
12. La Ciccia
Sardinian cuisine is the focus of this menu as Sardinia is the birthplace of the restaurant’s chef, Massimiliano Conti. All the dishes are created using organic produce and sustainable fish. Diners love the squid ink pasta at this restaurant as it is freshly prepared and loaded with seafood. Another popular option is a dish called Prupisceddu in Umidu cun Tomatina. This is an octopus stew made from a spicy tomato base. La Ciccia has an intimate vibe that is perfect for romantic meals.
If you are looking for a special seafood restaurant to enjoy a celebratory meal, then one of the best options in San Francisco. This fine-dining restaurant has a prixe fixe menu with a high price tag, but diners say that it is worth the splurge. The menu changes nightly according to the availability of seasonal ingredients. However, all the dishes showcase innovative flavor combinations presented artistically. The refined surroundings boast moody lighting and dark wood walls.
10. The Sea by Alexander’s Steakhouse
The popularity of Alexander’s Steakhouse led to them opening another restaurant with a high-end seafood concept, says Gayot. Although the focus is on the seafood dishes in this establishment, they also serve the classic cuts of steak for which they were originally famous. Therefore, this is an excellent option if you are dining in a group with some seafood enthusiasts and some meat lovers. A Japanese influence runs throughout the menu, although ingredients are sourced from all four corners of the globe. This restaurant has also earned a reputation for its stunning desserts and the ever-changing cocktail list. This is a modern restaurant with a spacious dining area and a fun vibe.
9. Hog Island Oyster Co.
At Hog Island, there are more than 3.5 million mussels, oysters, and Manilla clams harvested each year. The Hog Island Oyster Co. restaurant is located in the Ferry Building in Downtown San Francisco. One of the highlights of dining in this restaurant is the impressive views of the bay and Bay Lights from the floor-to-ceiling windows. The oysters are the main feature of the menu, and these are taken straight from the bay and then served raw or grilled in the restaurant.
8. La Mar Cebicheria Peruana Restaurant
Gayot lists La Mar Cebicheria Peruana Restaurant as one of the best seafood restaurants in San Francisco. It is the first stateside restaurant opened by celebrity chef Gaston Acurio, and it is located on the waterfront with a patio area for diners to eat outside. The Peruvian-inspired menu delivers classics such as empanadas. Skewered meat and seafood are another highlight of the menu. There are whole fish options, and these vary depending on the catch of the day.
7. Woodhouse Fish Co.
Opened in 2006, This nautically-themed restaurant serves up American classics. Expect to find food such as chowder, crab cakes, and Maine lobster rolls on this menu. Although the food may seem basic, they only use the best ingredients and every single item is homemade. For example, the buns used ate custom-made and buttered before they are grilled to get the slightly charred flavor that works so well with seafood. The flavors are also spectacular as they add sauces such as sea urchin butter or garnishes like applewood-smoked bacon. This is a casual venue that is suited to lunch out with friends or family dining.
6. Swan Oyster Depot
This is a well-established raw bar that has been in business for over a century and has become a landmark in San Francisco. Throughout this time, it has remained as popular as ever. There are just 18 seats along the counter of the bar, so there is often a queue for seating. The specialty of the restaurant is Dungeness crab served with housemade Louie sauce. The crab, lobster, shrimp, and squid are also plentiful in this restaurant.
The seafood theme has been taken to another level at Farallon as the interior is inspired by the ocean, marine life, and seafood. Some of the features include a staircase adorned with marbles to reflect caviar, chandeliers with a jellyfish design, and octopus stools, says Time Out. While many themed restaurants can look classy, the dimmed lighting and dark woods mean this restaurant manages to look classy. Oysters are the highlight of the raw bar, although there are half a dozen kinds of caviar. The menu consists of both raw and cooked seafood and fish dishes that range from halibut tartare to charred Spanish octopus.
4. Bar Crudo
The daily happy hour at this establishment attracts the crowds, and there are often long queues all the way down the road. This NoPa restaurant promises its diners that it serves high-end sustainable fish and seafood at a third of the price of its competitors. The decadently rich seafood chowder is a favorite, as is the rock cod tacos that are topped with cotija cheese, pickled onions, salsa, and guacamole.
There is a mixed bag in terms of the food on offer at Curio. You can enjoy everything from bar snacks to large entrees, and both meat and fish dishes are available. The dishes are influenced by both Californian and Southern cuisines, so there are plenty of options to suit all tastes. A popular choice at Curio is the daily fish and chips. This is a fresh fish offering that can change daily served with herbed fries. Another crowd-pleasing dish at this restaurant is the shellfish tower, which includes an abundance of tuna tartar, prawns, clams, and oysters.
2. Anchor Oyster Bar
A long-standing favorite among the locals, this oyster bar has been run by the same couple for more than 40 years. Although it is best known for its delicious oysters, which are served in numerous ways, they also offer a variety of dishes made using sustainable ingredients, including crab and locally caught fish. A specialty of this restaurant is the cracked Dungeness crab, which is served seasonally.
1. Leo’s Oyster Bar
According to Time Out, Leo’s Oyster bar is the best seafood restaurant in San Francisco. Design guru Ken Fulk is responsible for the tropical interior of this restaurant which was designed to reflect the style of 1950s cocktail lounges. The best appetizer is Leo’s platter, which consists of two layers of snow crab claws, shrimp cocktail, and oysters. The entrée menu consists of rich and decadent dishes, many of which reflect classic French cooking.