Saturday, August 8, 2009

Swan Oyster Depot

San Francisco is a seafood town and as a native San Franciscan Swans Oyster Depot is my kind of place. Swan's is almost 100 years old and was a classic from the day it opened. It first began as a fish market and soon after a few seats were added along the counter where they began serving customers very simple fare. Freshly shucked Oysters, Dungeness cracked crab or any combination seafood cocktails. They don’t serve any hot food except for clam chowder. There are no gimmicks, just the freshest seafood available.

There is always a line out the door and it's no wonder with just 19 or so stools. The early morning hours at the store are spent getting wholesale and private orders packed up and I'd have to say my favorite time to go is in the morning around 11:00 am. There usually isn’t a line but once all the stools are filled the lines begin and continues all day long. Swan's is only open until 5:30, they don't serve dinner. I love watching local great timers enjoying a cup of chowder, seafood salads or as I spotted for the first time, a woman who was having Dungeness cracked crab served with melted butter in a very small copper pot.

Swan's in my opinion is not only the best place in the city to enjoy the bounty of San Francisco seafood but also the best place to buy local seafood. Whatever is in season is on display, sand dabs, bay shrimps, freshly caught salmon, Cracked Dungeness crab or shucked crabmeat.

I usually start with a cup of chowder and then follow with a simple salad topped with crab, prawns and bay shrimp, which they serve along with a bowl of Thousand Island dressing. Sometimes if I’m in the mood, I order a selection of oysters. They serve a locally smoked salmon that melts in your mouth. You can of course order any of the prepared seafood which is served with some homemade cocktail sauce. I either sip a glass of Honig Sauvignon Blanc, simple and crisp, perfect for seafood or the local Anchor Steam Beer.

It’s very comforting to me that a shop like Swan Oyster Depot hasn't fall to the wayside and that one of the city's greatest culinary traditions is still vibrant and very much alive.

Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk Street
San Francisco, California
Open daily 8:00 - 5:30
Closed Mondays


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