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Swan Oyster Depot

Seafood Restaurant$$$$
Polk Gulch, San Francisco
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9.2/10
506
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202 Tips and reviews
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  • smoked salmon
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  • Eater
    EaterJuly 28, 2016
    Any seafood at Swan is guaranteed to be fresh and fantastic. But you can't come to a place with "Oyster Depot" right there in the name and not eat oysters, especially the amazing local ones. Read more
  • Kashif R.
    Kashif RayaniSeptember 18
    Oysters are a must. Go off-menu and try the Sicilian sashimi & "a dozen eggs" (thin-sliced raw scallops in ponzu). Be prepared to stand in line: it moves slowly but is totally worth the wait.
    Upvoted Sep 18
  • Asher S.
    Asher SimondsJune 1, 2015
    Not big on oysters? The smoked salmon is so fresh and so well balanced with capers and chopped onions that you'll forget you're not in a Jewish deli in the Lower East side.
  • BuzzFeed
    BuzzFeedAugust 23, 2016
    Named one of the best oyster bars in America and beloved by Anthony Bourdain, Swan’s oysters and Crab Louie are impossibly delicious and fresh, but we especially thumbs-up the ice-cold sashimi. Read more
  • Bon Appetit Magazine
    Have an Anchor Steam while you wait (it’s okay), then order Dungeness crab, Drake’s Bay oysters, house-smoked salmon, raw scallops, and, if you’re with (patient) friends, the shrimp or crab Louie. Read more
  • Mike W.
    Mike WinstonOctober 9, 2014
    Been here 5+ times
    All of the seafood is extraordinarily fresh, but I'd suggest going with the off-menu Scallop or Salmon Sicilian Sashimi or ridiculously good Live West Coast Uni. Read about it on WinstonWanders below! Read more
  • Eater
    EaterApril 12, 2016
    Open only for lunch, Polk Street’s 100-year-old gem still churns out the best crab, oysters and sourdough in town. Read more
  • Mike W.
    Mike WinstonDecember 22, 2014
    Been here 5+ times
    Everything at Swan is amazing, but you've just got to try the Bourdain approved dish simply called Crab Fat. It's ridiculously decadent. Read more about this insane dish on WinstonWanders below!! Read more
  • Epicurious
    EpicuriousOctober 2, 2014
    You'll definitely wait in line, but coming to this old school, no-frills seafood institution as a solo diner has its advantages -- you'll likely get a seat faster than the larger parties. Read more
  • Frank W.
    Frank WangAugust 15, 2014
    Opens at 10:30 and accepts cash only. Some the freshest oysters ive ever had. Crab cocktail is big fat generous chunks of crab meat. And of course clam chowder is amazing.
  • Bon Appetit Magazine
    Seafood is healthyish as long as it isn’t fried. Eat enough cracked Dungeness crab, raw scallops, or hand-sliced smoked salmon, and it almost feels like you’ve earned that cold pint of Anchor Steam. Read more
  • SFist
    SFistAugust 3, 2014
    Simple and clean, the century-old spot is also a staple of Polk Street and a huge hit with locals and tourists alike. Expect kitsch, charm, hospitality, and a full belly when you leave. Read more
  • Steffen B.
    No reservations so naturally the queue is long but it's the best fresh seafood you can get. Try the clam chowder, Sicilian Sashimi and a selection of Oysters!
  • Tony H.
    Tony HamJune 13, 2013
    Don't forget, cash only! This place is a treasure. The guys behind the counter will take care of you. Great service and awesome product! Oysters are amazing. The clam chowder has real clam flavor!
  • SFGate
    SFGateAugust 2, 2014
    Few places have the longevity - or the popularity - of this tiny oyster bar. Even after more than 100 years, people still wait in line to get a seat at one of the 18 stools at the counter. Read more
  • Jimmy H.
    Jimmy HookerAugust 7, 2014
    Feels like you're going back in time. Everything is amazing. Try the thin sliced salmon and eat a ton of oysters. The line is serious though, and they often run out of food. Get there early.
  • Camila F.
    Camila FFebruary 10
    100% worth the wait in line. Tried the CRABsanthemum and Sicilian sashimi off the 'secret' menu. Both were the best and make sure to ask for some of the house vinaigrette made with crab back. Wow!
  • Shirley L.
    Shirley LiuDecember 7, 2013
    Start with a cup of chowder and bread and butter. Then move into a dozen mixed oysters. Get a half plate of the sashimi and a half cracked cab. If it's not too early, grab a beer!
  • Travel Channel
    Travel ChannelDecember 9, 2011
    This casual spot is a great place to enjoy fresh seafood. Its first come, first serve - so breakfast is often to best time to drop by. As seen on Travel Channel’s The Layover with Anthony Bourdain.
  • Tom M.
    Tom McGhanAugust 13, 2014
    Don't want to deal with the crazy lines, but still want the goods? Call in a togo order! Everyone's faces in line as you walk past them, leaving in minutes? Almost as delicious as their food!
  • AFAR Media
    AFAR MediaAugust 12, 2014
    Don’t forget to bring cash because that’s all they take. No matter what you decide to try, don’t miss the clam chowder. I think it’s one of the best I’ve ever eaten. Read more
  • SFist
    SFistAugust 4, 2016
    Go for some shrimp, or crab, or better yet a plate of oysters followed by any of the seafood cocktails or crudos, and you will walk out happy. Read more
  • Kate Y.
    Kate YanMay 12, 2015
    Get here early or else the lines can take a long time. The restaurant only has 20 counter seats. The crudo is amazing! Cash only.
  • SFGate
    SFGateAugust 2, 2014
    Specialties: Anything with crab; oysters on the half shell; Boston clam chowder; smoked salmon or trout; fresh seafood to take home. Read more
  • Laura C.
    Laura CNovember 17, 2011
    Kelly and Christy love the Dungeness Crab Louie and the incredibly fresh oysters that they order with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. There is only bar seating and it’s hard to get a seat, so expect a line.
  • Kim F.
    Kim FujiwaraMarch 23, 2013
    Try the Crab Fat - Excellent with white wine, lemon & pepper. Goes well with bread! Delish! My first time trying this dish.
  • Reno
    RenoMay 16, 2013
    Been here 5+ times
    Better and cheaper option: go to Waterbar in Embarcadero for happy hour oyster $1 each and views of bay. Good date first date plus added bonus Panty dropper views of bridge
  • Matt K.
    Matt KiserSeptember 17, 2012
    Get here early & pony up to the counter. Order an Anchor Steam, get a mixed dozen oysters, some chowder, & the half crab if in season. The smoked salmon is incredible.
  • Aaron K.
    Aaron KOctober 20, 2011
    Been here 10+ times
    Avoid going here on the weekend or at prime lunch time to avoid the crowds of tourists. Best seafood in the city. They also hand slice their smoked salmon which makes it extra delicious.
  • Kyle P.
    Kyle PaiceDecember 29, 2015
    The wait will be long, but worth it. Go an hour before they open and you should be among he first seated.
  • heathr g.
    heathr goldOctober 5, 2016
    The key option to know about: call in an order to go. Best lox I've had in my life. Good enough that you can eat it without a bagel.
  • Condé Nast Traveler
    Condé Nast TravelerOctober 19, 2016
    “My happiest place in America to eat crab backs filled with fat, juicy oysters and enjoy a cold draft beer.” - Anthony Bourdain, chef, writer, and TV personality Read more
  • Paulo S.
    Paulo SantosSeptember 4, 2013
    The scallops in the sashimi was next level. Sad that as good as the uni looked, it was a day old as admitted by one of the guys there.
  • Timothy C.
    Timothy CavanaughMarch 2, 2011
    The smoked salmon--one of my very favorite foods--on very thinly sliced sourdough, was outstanding. So incredibly buttery, melt-in-your-mouth fantastic The best I've ever had--by a mile.
  • ISC C.
    Go early and be prepared to wait, but it's worth it. Very fresh seafood, limited menu, ask for what's not on the menu; very friendly staff
  • NorthBet
    NorthBetAugust 19, 2014
    A trip to SF isn't complete without a stop at Swan Oyster Depot. Everything is fresh and you can't go wrong with anything on the menu. Don't forget to bring cash. No plastic.
  • Travel + Leisure
    Travel + LeisureMarch 19, 2013
    The Sancimino brothers (six of them!) are always joking around behind the counter. Order cracked crab and a pint of Anchor Steam. More places to eat like a local: tandl.me/12ufz7c
  • Epicurious
    EpicuriousAugust 25, 2010
    This San Fran landmark serves all its dishes cold (except for the rainy-day staple, clam chowder). Knock back oysters on your lunch break and chat up the cooks for secrets of the century-old spot.
  • Tony L.
    Tony LochOctober 8, 2011
    The food and service is amazing. Everything is raw but the natural taste of all the seafood is to die for!!! Local family restaurant, and quick service!!
  • Soo Wai E.
    Soo Wai EngApril 29, 2012
    Half shell oyster,clam chowder, sashimi with lemon, olive oil, onion, and capers, especially the scallop... Very delicious ! Worth the wait
  • Katie E.
    Katie ExtonJune 24, 2016
    Loved this bustling oyster bar. The staff are just fantastic and the oysters are fab
  • Paul F.
    Paul FarrellAugust 17, 2016
    An institution. The food and atmosphere are special. Worth going out of your way for.
  • Elizabeth R.
    Elizabeth RiceJune 15, 2016
    The crab back really is as fantastic as Anthony Bourdain says it is! Also their horseradish is amazingly spicy and delish.
  • Brad G.
    Brad GrahamMay 10, 2014
    First come first serve (20 stools), best to go at breakfast. Crab fat/butter w/ sourdough bread. Oysters. Sea urchins
  • Jessica R.
    Jessica RoquéDecember 18, 2015
    Got the variety of oysters and the chowder to go just before closing. It was delicious. Can't wait to go again.
  • Teresa G.
    Teresa GreenleesMarch 28, 2014
    One of the best lines in San Fran. Orderly, polite and very good looking.
  • Nana
    NanaJune 30, 2016
    Ok if this is one of the items to check off the list then by all means stand in line. Food is good but not omg good. It's comparable to other places. 6 oysters 6 clams bread with smoked salmon $57 😱
  • Vedran L.
    Monster line and monster meal! World Class and worth the hype!
  • Cait I.
    Cait IrwinSeptember 18, 2013
    Very small and most likely a long wait but the Bostom clam chowder and oysters are worth it! Super friendly staff too.
  • Tasting Table
    Tasting TableAugust 5, 2014
    There's no beating the classic seafood salads topped with Louie dressing ($15.25 to $25), and yes, you do want to try the fresh sea urchin, still moving when the shell hits your table. Read more
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