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Swan Oyster Depot

Seafood Restaurant$$$$
Polk Gulch, San Francisco
204 Tips and reviews
  • oysters
  • crab
  • lively
  • sashimi
  • smoked salmon
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  • Recent
  • 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
    Upvoted Aug 11
  • 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!
  • 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
  • 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!
  • 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.
    Upvoted Aug 11
  • 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:
  • 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.
  • Vedran L.
    Monster line and monster meal! World Class and worth the hype!
  • 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 😱
  • 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.
  • Ivan R.
    Ivan RečevićAugust 29, 2015
    Super Fresh fish and seafood produced localy. Eaten alive without problem. If you prefer something cooked - there is too (but not too much).
  • 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
  • Vana K.
    Vana KhanjianJanuary 30, 2014
    If you like seafood, this is a must. The staff was super friendly and the fish was super fresh. Enjoy!
  • Steph H.
    Steph HuAugust 27, 2013
    Clam chowder and combination salad! If you don't want to wait, take out! They also sell fresh sea urchin in its shell
  • James T.
    James TinkerJanuary 3, 2014
    Here's the deal, if you are a tourist its worth coming here once for the dive bar charm, after that there are way better seafood places in much nicer settings for the same price
  • James T.
    James TFebruary 15
    Nice guys. I swooped in for two dozen whole oysters (unshucked) to go. Got a nice selection from B.C., WA and CA.
  • The Tastes that Make the City
    The oysters on the half shell are the best oysters in SF, making our list of "The Tastes That Make the City: SF Edition." Read more
  • Dan F.
    Dan FoyFebruary 20, 2015
    Just an incomparable experience. The food, the service, the one beer on tap. Worth every minute of the 2 hours we spent on line.
  • Brodie O.
    Brodie OlmsteadJuly 24, 2015
    Don't let be line out front intimidate you. It's worth it. Everything's great here, but the oysters are my fav.
  • Ana Clare S.
    Ana Clare SmithSeptember 20, 2016
    I love the crab louie salad and the oysters are always great!
  • Kim F.
    Kim FujiwaraMarch 23, 2013
    Try the 2 Dozen Mixed Oysters - Miyagi, Kumamoto and Blue Point oysters! Yum!!! I was in oyster heaven!
  • Melon L.
    Melon LSeptember 28, 2015
    Come during the weekday to avoid a crazy wait. You must sit inside and hang out, just once!
  • ashley t.
    ashley tevatiaDecember 18, 2012
    Chowder. Miyagi and Kumamoto oysters (skip the blue point). Seafood combination salad platter. Bottle of wine.
  • Kiko W.
    Kiko WangOctober 1, 2013
    Love it love it ! Everything is amazing ! Must try !
  • Amanda F.
    Amanda FaganApril 6, 2015
    For other vegetarians who like myself came here with friends, just chow down on the amazing bread.
  • Carrie C.
    Carrie CollinsAugust 24, 2012
    Everything is good. Especially the oysters. Also highly recommend half cracked crab and clam chowder.
  • Will K.
    Will KivinskiMarch 29, 2013
    Get the ultra fresh sea urchin. They serve it to you still moving! It's like the Foie of The Sea.
  • Bravo
    BravoDecember 2, 2010
    My favorite stop before or after a flight to load up on Dungeness crab & oysters. A classic west coast oyster bar. -Ana Sortun, Top Chef
  • Robbie W.
    Robbie WhiteOctober 13, 2011
    Best crab, chowder, oysters, sourdough bread and ice cold Anchor Steam off the beaten city path. A gem!
  • Patrick S.
    Patrick SMarch 19, 2015
    This is the crab back. It's delicious but served cold which was a slight surprise.
  • Andres A.
    Andres AcostaMarch 13, 2010
    You can order drinks while waiting on line. Order Italian Sashimi (it's not on the menu). They have yummy aged Tequila in the oak barrel above the counter top. Cheers!
  • Ian T.
    Ian ThongJanuary 25, 2012
    Oysters are really good, coming from a Sydney sider, Australia. Clam chowder is also great...!
  • James H.
    James HDecember 6, 2015
    Carpaccio. And that smoked salmon. No curb balls here, just 90mph freshness.
  • Mario L.
    Mario LosassoAugust 20, 2012
    Try the Smoked salmon - Suzi loved it. So fresh. Could have eaten the whole fish.
  • ViatorStaff
    ViatorStaffAugust 16, 2010
    Our favorite SF seafood institution. Get here early to beat the crowds and have oysters and clam chowder with an Anchor Steam beer.
  • Amy Y.
    Amy YFebruary 28, 2015
    Very limited seating, cash only. Some of the freshest seafood in town. Not sure why people say it's a tourist trap -- it's very much a local's place
  • Krzysztof L.
    Krzysztof L.1 week ago
    very original place with #1 seafood in the world!
  • Matthew O.
    Matthew OliverSeptember 9, 2016
    Oysters are amazing!
    Upvoted 1 week ago
  • Max B.
    Max BulgerNovember 16, 2013
    Been here 5+ times
    When the line is particularly long, enjoy a cold Anchor Steam in Depot-provided Solo cups while you wait curbside.
  • Kris V.
    Kris Vera-PhillipsApril 24, 2012
    Try the Crab Backs - #kvpinmybelly : Succulent crab offal, spread over butter and bread. Amazing!
  • James T.
    James TeiserOctober 18, 2011
    I recommend the prawns in drawn butter, New England clam chowder and awesome sourdough bread.
  • Allison K.
    Allison KaminskiSeptember 3, 2015
    Oysters, sashimi style fish, weird butter crab thing (sorry have no idea what it was called), clam chowder.
  • Kim F.
    Kim FujiwaraMarch 23, 2013
    Get here early! Opens at 10:30am on Saturday and 5 folks in line at 9:45am!
  • Melissa Nasse C.
    Casual, Wonderful Service and Extra Quality Ingredients
  • thedevyouknow
    thedevyouknowMay 16, 2013
    You'll know you've been a good customer if they give you a couple of souvenirs on the way out.
  • Michael G.
    Michael GargasOctober 2, 2010
    Make sure you try the spicy relish stuff and horse radish. Also, ask for the sashimi type thing it looks great.
  • Mario L.
    Mario LosassoAugust 20, 2012
    Try the Assorted Oysters - I easily could have eaten 50 of these. Fantastic!
  • TerraMoto T.
    TerraMoto TransporationJanuary 26, 2011
    Best Boston Clam Chowder with a side of Boudin Bakery sourdough bread made especially for restaurants.
  • Mykl W.
    Mykl WuDecember 3, 2012
    If you get the crab fat, make sure you put some habanero sauce in it!
  • Ricardo P.
    Ricardo Polisel AlvesApril 16, 2014
    Ask for the Boston Clam Chowder, set of oysters, and scallops.
  • AskMen
    AskMenNovember 17, 2011
    Get the clam chowder and then -- of course -- the oysters. Reconnect with the ocean. Read more
  • Kareem Z.
    Kareem ZarwiOctober 6, 2014
    Been here 5+ times
    Best breakfast in SF...paired with Anchor Steam on draft.
  • Jennifer H.
    Jennifer HsuOctober 24, 2013
    Been here 5+ times
    Get the sashimi platt Sicilian style for lunch!
  • Geo A.
    Geo AzziJune 8, 2010
    Best fresh seafood in a casual environment. Long lines for eat in are worth it. They also have takeout orders.
  • Brian
    BrianJanuary 24, 2012
    7x7's Big Eat 2012 says the cracked dungeness crab is delicious. Yum!
  • Susan T.
    Susan TSeptember 28, 2010
    Oysters are the best but be sure to try the seafood salads. The Louis dressing is amazing!
  • Mario L.
    Mario LosassoAugust 20, 2012
    Try the New England Clam Chowder - One of the best I have ever had.
  • Steve R.
    Steve RobertsFebruary 27, 2014
    Awesome food, great service with a sense of humor.
  • Reno
    RenoOctober 25, 2012
    Been here 5+ times
    Go to Waterbar on the Embarcadero instead for oysters happy hour $1 oysters with bridge views
  • Jenny L.
    Jenny LiSeptember 25, 2013
    Don't miss the fresh uni on ice!
  • Mikko N.
    Mikko NiemeläApril 17, 2014
    Tasty oysters and oh boy the crab cocktail. Sweeeet.
  • Rasputin V.
    Rasputin ViktorFebruary 14, 2016
    Заведение с душей и историей. Все свежее и крутое, столов нет, резерва тоже, все происходит за барной стойкой., Берите стакан анхора, жир краба, сашими и устрицы.
  • Alexander G.
    Alexander GalitskiAugust 4, 2015
    Суровые олдовые хипстеры накормят вкусными устрицами за барной стойкой. Клёвое место!
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