I was always afraid of Swan Oyster Depot. I was afraid of the lines. I was afraid because the place is so popular it would be like the Soup Nazi, “No soup for you!” If you were thinking the same, well…..throw it ALL out the window.
This place has character. This place has heart. This place has families, couples, 10+ year veteran customers, bromance, girlfriends, tourists, locals and babies nibbling on seafood. This place has it all.
I waited for about 30 mins on a weekday late afternoon; chatting it up with folks in line and watching the workers regularly refill the lovely rainbow of seafood in the window display.
Once the bar was cleared of two seats and it was my turn I happily hopped onto a metal bar stool and examined the action behind the counter. Our (with endearment and no other words) cool ass server said, “Let me get you some bread and butter and we’ll take care of you.” He was right.
I spotted some regular customers slurping heavenly roe right out of a crab’s head and asked, “How can I get one of those?” We were served 2 COMPLIMENTARY crab head filled with natural goodness mopped clean with our sourdough bread.
There is blue point, kumamoto, miyagi oysters, clams, shrimp, smoked salmon or trout, whole crab, lobsters and clam chowder. Take your pick. We started out with a bowl of Boston Clam Chowder highly recommended by our new friend in line. The soup was light and creamy with lots of fresh clam juice, bits of clams and potatoes. I could eat bowls and bowls…and again mop it up with the sourdough bread.
Next up with the #15 Kumamoto Oysters from the Big 100 Eats List and $9.25 for 6 Cherry Stone Clams. The Kumamotos were really fat, fattier than I’ve had at other places and sweet. The raw seafood is served with house made cocktail, horseradish and scallion mignonette. Be careful of the horseradish because it is fresh it is lethal!
Our cool ass server told us they get shipment in around 2am, the seafood is cooked and picked by 9am. The trays of freshly picked crab meat is incredible. I had to get the $19.50 crab salad made with shreds of iceberg lettuce and topped with house made Louie dressing. Can I say WOW!?! The salad is such a deal with the generous amount of crab body and leg meat. The freshness is incomparable to anything I’ve had.
People hate or love lists but there is one reason why I love lists because it gets me to try places I've had on my to-go list forever or places I was intimidated to step my foot through the door.
Swan Oyster Depot is family run and sells all of the goodies in the window to take home and make your own magic. I’m making Vietnamese crab imperial rolls soon and I know where to go.
Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109