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Swan Oyster Depot

Seafood Restaurant · Polk Gulch
1517 Polk St (btwn Sacramento & California St.), San Francisco, CA 94109, United States
Closed until 10:30 AM (Show more)
  • Mon–Sat
    • 10:30 AM–5:30 PM
Brunch, Lunch
Beer, Wine, Cocktails
Credit Cards:
Outdoor Seating:

Based on 373 votes

People like this place

  • On Eater's The 38 Essential SF Restaurants, Spring 2016
  • What you need to know
    The Tastes that Make the City
    "oysters on the half shell are the best oysters in SF"(7 Tips)
    Kim F.
    "Try the Crab Fat - Excellent with white wine, lemon & pepper."(5 Tips)
    Ricardo P.
    "Ask for the Boston Clam Chowder, set of oysters, and scallops."(4 Tips)
    M N.
    "Probably the best oysters I have ever had"(55 Tips)
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  • Popular
  • Recent

178 tips and reviews.

  • Filter by taste:
  • all tips and reviews
  • oysters
  • crab
  • half shell
  • lively
  • smoked salmon
  • casual
  • sashimi
  • authentic
  • sea urchin
  • scallops
  • fish
  • healthy food
  • breakfast food
  • off-menu items
  • wine
  • great value
  • cocktails
  • trout
  • beer
  • good service
  • Mike W.

    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

    Mike Winston · October 9, 2014
  • Mike W.

    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

    Mike Winston · December 22, 2014
  • Epicurious

    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

    Epicurious · October 2, 2014
  • SFGate

    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

    SFGate · August 2, 2014
  • Frank W.

    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.

    Frank Wang · August 15, 2014
  • Asher S.

    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.

    Asher Simonds · June 1, 2015
  • SFist

    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

    SFist · August 3, 2014
  • Laura C.

    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.

    Laura C · November 17, 2011
  • Jimmy H.

    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.

    Jimmy Hooker · August 7, 2014
  • AFAR Media

    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

    AFAR Media · August 12, 2014
  • Tony H.

    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!

    Tony Ham · June 13, 2013
  • Travel Channel

    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.

    Travel Channel · December 9, 2011
  • Epicurious

    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.

    Epicurious · August 25, 2010
  • Tom M.

    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!

    Tom McGhan · August 13, 2014
  • Shirley L.

    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!

    Shirley Liu · December 7, 2013
  • Timothy C.

    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.

    Timothy Cavanaugh · March 2, 2011
  • Aaron K.

    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.

    Aaron K · October 20, 2011
  • Reno M.

    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

    Reno M · May 16, 2013
  • Kate Y.

    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.

    Kate Yan · May 12, 2015
  • Travel + Leisure

    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:

    Travel + Leisure · March 19, 2013
  • Paulo S.

    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.

    Paulo Santos · September 4, 2013
  • SFGate

    Specialties: Anything with crab; oysters on the half shell; Boston clam chowder; smoked salmon or trout; fresh seafood to take home. Read more

    SFGate · August 2, 2014
  • Matt K.

    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.

    Matt Kiser · September 17, 2012
  • Andres A.

    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!

    Andres Acosta · March 13, 2010
  • James T.

    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 Tinker · January 3, 2014
  • Michelle L.

    Ask if they've got fresh scallops! If so, get them done up with olive oil, capers and onions. Squeeze a little lemon on there (from the bowl on the counter), and enjoy!

    Michelle Lee · June 10, 2009
  • Tony L.

    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!!

    Tony Loch · October 8, 2011
  • Kyle P.

    The wait will be long, but worth it. Go an hour before they open and you should be among he first seated.

    Kyle Paice · December 29, 2015
  • Amy Y.

    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

    Amy Y · February 28, 2015
  • NorthBet

    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.

    NorthBet · August 19, 2014
  • Eater

    Open only for lunch, Polk Street’s 100-year-old gem still churns out the best crab, oysters and sourdough in town. Read more

    Eater · 2 weeks ago
  • Soo Wai E.

    Half shell oyster,clam chowder, sashimi with lemon, olive oil, onion, and capers, especially the scallop... Very delicious ! Worth the wait

    Soo Wai Eng · April 29, 2012
  • Ivan R.

    Super Fresh fish and seafood produced localy. Eaten alive without problem. If you prefer something cooked - there is too (but not too much).

    Ivan Rečević · August 29, 2015
  • 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

    The Tastes that Make the City · January 28, 2015
  • ViatorStaff

    Our favorite SF seafood institution. Get here early to beat the crowds and have oysters and clam chowder with an Anchor Steam beer.

    ViatorStaff · August 16, 2010
  • Kim F.

    Try the Crab Fat - Excellent with white wine, lemon & pepper. Goes well with bread! Delish! My first time trying this dish.

    Kim Fujiwara · March 23, 2013
  • Brad G.

    First come first serve (20 stools), best to go at breakfast. Crab fat/butter w/ sourdough bread. Oysters. Sea urchins

    Brad Graham · May 10, 2014
  • Lauren H.

    You can order takeout raw stuff, salads or chowder here and skip the long lines! Of course nothing beats the authentic counter experience.

    Lauren H · April 12, 2010
  • Cait I.

    Very small and most likely a long wait but the Bostom clam chowder and oysters are worth it! Super friendly staff too.

    Cait Irwin · September 18, 2013
  • Tasting Table

    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

    Tasting Table · August 5, 2014
  • Jessica R.

    Got the variety of oysters and the chowder to go just before closing. It was delicious. Can't wait to go again.

    Jessica Roqué · December 18, 2015
  • Steph H.

    Clam chowder and combination salad! If you don't want to wait, take out! They also sell fresh sea urchin in its shell

    Steph Hu · August 27, 2013
  • ashley t.

    Chowder. Miyagi and Kumamoto oysters (skip the blue point). Seafood combination salad platter. Bottle of wine.

    ashley tevatia · December 18, 2012
  • Geo A.

    Best fresh seafood in a casual environment. Long lines for eat in are worth it. They also have takeout orders.

    Geo Azzi · June 8, 2010
  • Kim F.

    Try the 2 Dozen Mixed Oysters - Miyagi, Kumamoto and Blue Point oysters! Yum!!! I was in oyster heaven!

    Kim Fujiwara · March 23, 2013
  • Dan F.

    Just an incomparable experience. The food, the service, the one beer on tap. Worth every minute of the 2 hours we spent on line.

    Dan Foy · February 20, 2015
  • Brodie O.

    Don't let be line out front intimidate you. It's worth it. Everything's great here, but the oysters are my fav.

    Brodie Olmstead · July 24, 2015
  • Michael G.

    Make sure you try the spicy relish stuff and horse radish. Also, ask for the sashimi type thing it looks great.

    Michael Gargas · October 2, 2010
  • Vana K.

    If you like seafood, this is a must. The staff was super friendly and the fish was super fresh. Enjoy!

    Vana Khanjian · January 30, 2014
  • Robbie W.

    Best crab, chowder, oysters, sourdough bread and ice cold Anchor Steam off the beaten city path. A gem!

    Robbie White · October 13, 2011

Foursquare tips about Swan Oyster Depot are short and actionable, unlike Yelp reviews that take a while to read through.

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