As one of the world’s finest culinary destinations, San Francisco continually prides itself in its diverse and ever-changing collection of specialty dishes and world-class restaurants. Those dishes includes high quality seafood selections, where a sizable portion are acquired directly off local fishing boats returning to Fisherman’s Wharf. And while many of the famous and long-standing wharf restaurants can lay claim for serving the freshest seafood, there are several other culinary establishments all over the City that are surging in worldwide recognition. Here is a just a small sampling of the very best restaurants for the freshest and most delicious seafood dishes in San Francisco.
Fog Harbor Fish House
San Francisco, CA 94133
With tremendous views of the San Francisco Bay from Pier 39, Fog Harbor Fish House is described as the quintessential San Francisco waterfront experience, offering 100 percent sustainable seafood. Founded by Pier 39 developer Warren Simmons, Fog Harbor Fish House is now led by his son Scooter and over the years, has won multiple awards from TripAdvisor, Diner’s Choice and Opentable, among others. Continuing the proud tradition to deliver the finest quality menu items, Fog Harbor Fish House was the first restaurant in the Fisherman’s Wharf area to offer 100 percent sustainable seafood based upon recommendations from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program and Pier 39’s Aquarium by the Bay. Current and seasonal menus are regularly offered at Fog Harbor, with popular dishes like Ahi Tuna, Pacific Sole and Seared Pacific Cod, as well an outstanding collection of other sea-sourced specialties like baked oysters, whole Dungeness crab, seafood penne and its award-winning clam chowder. The Simmons family operates two other outstanding restaurants at Pier 39 – Pier Market and Wipeout Bar and Grill, a surf-themed restaurant.
Hog Island Oyster Bar
One Ferry Building, 11A
San Francisco, CA 94111
Recently named one of the world’s best restaurants by Travel+Leisure, Hog Island Oyster Co. offers some of the freshest oysters in the entire San Francisco Bay Area. With four locations, including its lively oyster bar inside the historic Ferry Building, Hog Island Oyster Co. hand raises its own sustainable shellfish at its 106-acre farm along Tomales Bay in Marin County. This means its “Bay to Bar” philosophy offers supremely fresh shellfish primarily from its farm but from other sources like Humboldt Bay, Washington State and New England. Other fresh seafood items are offered at the San Francisco location, such as Beer Battered Rock Cod Sliders, San Francisco Fried Softshell Crab, SF Halibut Crudo and White Seabass. While the San Francisco location is likely the most accessible, oyster lovers can also opt to visit its Napa spot inside the popular Oxbow Public Market and Tony’s Seafood Restaurant in Marshall, as well as the Boat Oyster Bar at the Marshall oyster farm, along Highway 1 and Tomales Bay.
888 Howard St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
One of just a few Michelin-starred San Francisco restaurants inside a hotel, Luce has long been acclaimed for its fabulously inventive dishes. Located within the luxurious and completely renovated InterContinental San Francisco, Luce has received the coveted Michelin star for 10 consecutive years and also the recipient of Wine Spectator’s prestigious Best of Award of Excellence since 2015. Led by Chef Daniel Corey, an extraordinarily talented protégée of famed local Michelin 3-star Chef Dominique Crenn, Luce specializes in stylish modern American cuisine utilizing locally sourced produce, the freshest seafood and high quality meats. Recent seafood offerings from the dinner menu include Shigoku oysters with Siberian caviar, Pacific halibut poached in olive oil and an incredibly delicious yellow fin tuna, with pluot, coriander blossoms and sesame. The dinner menu offers both à la carte items and the recommended Chef’s Tasting Menu ($125) with optional wine pairings ($95). The impressive wine menu offers more than 500 premium selections, with a particular emphasis on California varietals from wine regions as diverse as the Napa and Russian River Valleys, Amador County and Santa Barbara but also selections from Oregon, Italy and the legendary Bordeaux wine region. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Luce Restaurant is also available for private dining and special events
165 O’Farrell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Located just one block from Union Square, ONE65 is an extraordinary new multiple concept French restaurant led by renowned Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning Chef Claude Le Tohic. Housed within a six story Beaux-Arts building at 165 O’Farrell Street, ONE65 features multiple culinary options, with a fabulous patisserie on the ground level, the equally remarkable ONE65 Bistro on the third level, Elements Lounge & Bar on the fourth level and truly exceptional fine dining at Restaurant O’ on the fifth and six levels. Opened recently to widespread acclaim in May, ONE65 is the culmination of an ambitious, three-year project masterminded by famed Chef Le Tohic, who previously served as the Executive Chef of the Michelin 3-star Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas as well as the esteemed Chef de Cuisine at the Michelin 3-star Jamin in Paris, once named the Best Restaurant in the World. Every level of this historic building presents a uniquely remarkable experience, but ONE65 Bistro, led by Chef Le Tohic and rising star Chef de Cuisine Jennifer Dewasha and Restaurant O’ are particularly noted for its exquisite, French-inspired cuisine. Several superb seafood options are available à la carte or on the Chef’s Tasting Menu, with the latter restaurant offered at $250 with a standard wine pairing at $150 or Grand Pairing at $350 for the ultimate culinary experience. Current seafood dishes on the menu at O’ Restaurant include a Seafood Royale with scallop, uni and wild fennel emulsion, Roasted Lobster with Chambertin sauce, juniper and red cabbage and Half-Smoked Salmon, with wasabi nage and shitake.
1965 Al Scoma Way
San Francisco, CA 94133
Of the several outstanding seafood restaurants in Fisherman’s Wharf, not many can claim it owns its own private fishing boat and fish receiving station. However, Scoma’s can make that claim and in doing so, can guarantee its catches of the day are absolutely fresh. Located near Anchorage Square shopping center at Pier 47, where commercial fishermen sell fresh fish right off their boats, Scoma’s has been family owned and operated since 1965, and its exterior seems weathered even with regular coats of new paint. However, its old school look that has drawn numerous celebrities completely belies the quality of its vast selection of fresh seafood dishes all served on white tablecloth tables. Among the favorites from the expansive menu are Fennel Crusted Local Albacore, “Line-Caught” Wild Cod, “Line-Caught” Wild Salmon and Swordfish con Fagioli. Of course, Scoma’s offers other popular seafood dishes, like Dungeness crab cocktail, lobster bisque, mixed grilled seafood and its very famous Lazy Man’s Cioppino, along with other dishes like a superb Wagyu Bistro Filet. Fresh seafood orders can also be picked up at Scoma’s Pier-to-Plate Market.
399 The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94105
With an incredible bay view unmatched by any other restaurant other than its sister restaurant next door, Waterbar is often considered the finest sustainable seafood restaurant in San Francisco. Led by acclaimed Chef Park Ulrich, Waterbar features an exceptional variety of sustainably-sourced seafood items from local and international waters. Chef Ulrich, who also serves as executive chef next door at his EPIC Steak, offers a menu that changes daily in order to provide the freshest produce and seafood, with recent dishes like Hamachi Tataki, Oak Roasted White Bass, Walnut Crusted Yellowtail Jack and Poached Petrale Sole. Always appearing on Best Of San Francisco lists, Waterbar is also well-known for having one of the largest oyster menus in the Bay Area and is a very popular spot to visit after San Francisco Giants games or other events at Oracle Park, as well as events at the new Chase Center further down the road. Visitors who arrive in the evening for dinner, for private seating or the bar upstairs will also be treated to a fabulous view of the dazzling Bay Lights art installation along the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.
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About The Author:
Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who has covered national/international travel for CBS Local and all things San Francisco for CBS San Francisco. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University and a member of the Freelance Council of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).
He is a lifelong resident of Santa Cruz County, in California.