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“5 is Folly!”
Review of Swan Oyster Depot

Swan Oyster Depot
Ranked #99 of 5,737 Restaurants in San Francisco
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $21 - $30
Cuisines: Seafood
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Dinner, Breakfast, Lunch, Delivery
Neighborhood: Nob Hill
rapid city
Level 5 Contributor
29 reviews
13 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“5 is Folly!”
Reviewed October 18, 2007

I often question the reliability of the rating of a restaurant or hotel on Tripadvisor & the rating of #4 for the Swan Oyster Depot is a perfect example of that. I would definitely give a 5 to the staff ...very friendly, efficient & attentive. My husband would possibly give a decent rating to the raw oysters as well. That is where the 5s stop. Other than soup, there is no other cooked food. Salads are composed of iceberg lettuce with crab, shrimp or both on top, nothing else. Thousand Island is the only salad dressing offered. The long, narrow establishment is reminiscent of an old time barbershop...clutter piled high on shelves, cloth rags used to tie cabinet doors shut, in general a slovenly establishment. With so many restaurants with fresh seafood, don't be fooled into thinking this restaurant is 4th in S.F. Folly!

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4 Thank Ajudes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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613 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
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English first
Lake Arrowhead, CA
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 66 helpful votes
“Where the locals eat seafood in San Francisco”
Reviewed October 8, 2007

Being a San Francisco native, now living in southern California, I look forward to visiting my hometown. Swan Oyster Depot is always the most consistent place to eat on every visit. This was true again just last week. While old San Francisco is almost gone as we knew it, Swan Oyster Depot has remained the same for decades. Without any hesitation I can say they have the freshest and best crab anywhere. Their oysters are from many, varied locations. As with the crab they are extremely fresh and you can order a mixed sampler plate of oysters on the half shell. Their lox is out of this world and a closely guarded secret as to its source. They pour nice wines and beer and the staff is extremely friendly. Go there more than once on a visit and they will greet you by name on your return. Yes, it is plain. Yes, it is a long row of stools. Remember, it is an oyster BAR!. There is a reason the line to eat there starts at 10:30 in the morning and goes until 4:00 in the afternoon. Skip Fisherman's Wharf and go where the locals eat their seafood.

Helpful?
4 Thank TomPatrick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, OR
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Oyster Heaven”
Reviewed March 31, 2007

Swan Oyster Depot preserves the best of what I know of Old San Francisco: great food, a colorful staff and good prices. Oyster lovers will find it a mecca of unadorned purity. It's all about the seafood. Do not be surprised to find every seat taken a little after 8am when they open.

All long time ago in Baltimore, I remember going to Fadley's in Lexington Market at mid-morning and meeting up with trhe crowd from Washington DC who wanted to miss the noon rush. The only time in my life that I have had this happy experience replicated is at Swan Depot.

Discover the other delicacies- the crab, the New England clams, the cold smoked salmon from British Columbia- as you go.

Helpful?
4 Thank cselubks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland OR
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“The happiest place on Earth!”
Reviewed October 21, 2006

And no, it's not the place with the mouse. It's Swan Oyster Depot and their impeccable food and great wait staff. They have fresh oysters from the west coast and great raw clams from the east coast. They have teriific smoked salmon and their combo seafood salad is the best. But, for me they also make the finest Boston Clam Chowder in America. It's a light fish broth based miky soup with a generous amount of clams.
The counter guys are the best!. The first time I walked into Swan and saw all the guys lined up behind the bar I thought that the service here is going to be brusque. It was the absolute opposite--friendly and helpful and generous. It is obvious that these guys love their jobs, their customers and the food that the so adeptly serve. I was just in SF last week and waited 75 minutes to get in and it was worth every minute. I hadn't been back for 10 years. but I'll never stay away that long again.

Helpful?
8 Thank mvp1961
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stilwell, Kansas
Level 6 Contributor
143 reviews
90 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 295 helpful votes
“A True Classic!”
Reviewed July 28, 2006

If you want the freshest seafood at good prices and don't need expensive surroundings then this is your place. SF has lot's of great seafood joints and this is at the top. So popular with locals, plan on going early or late for lunch (they close around 6pm). You sit at an old fashion diner counter and watch the staff make you meal. The preparations aren't gourmet but are really good. This is what most seafood houses shoud be. Great Food at Good Prices. Nice wine list many by the glass. We can't travel to SF without at least one stop at Swan's.

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7 Thank amfpvks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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