While thoughts of eating crab may spawn memories of beach parties, fireworks, watermelon, and sunshine, don’t be fooled. For Bay Area dwellers, Dungeness crab season opens its doors in the colder months. So let’s refocus our attention from summertime blowouts to Thanksgiving dinner, holiday parties, and Christmas feasts, and welcome crab into the mix. Nobody knows seafood quite like San Franciscans, so pick up those crackers, grab a beer, a sweater, and a hot toddy, and enjoy the first taste of crab season at these establishments:
Sotto Mare’s cioppino is dubbed “The Best Damn Crab Cioppino.” And few argue. Saveur featured this hearty dish in its magazine in 2011 and hungry diners travel from miles away for a taste of the famous soup. Crab is accompanied by calamari, clams, mussels, scallops, and shrimp in a rich red broth spiced with chili flakes, garlic, and basil. You’ll want to soak up every last morsel of this luscious stew with crusty chunks of fresh sourdough bread. 552 Green St.
There’s something about crab, garlic, and Asian flavors that just work magically together. Thanh Long has long earned bragging rights for their impeccable combination of the three. Order the whole roasted Dungeness crab, along with their potent garlic noodles, and be sure to sop up all the juices. 4101 Judah St.
Although some may fear for the sanctity of fresh crab by chopping it, mixing it with spices, and frying it, no list of crab dishes would be complete without a quality crab cake. The Dungeness crab cakes at Georges are light, full of that delicious crab flavor, and served with simple watermelon radish and tangy remoulade. Fishermen and beachcombers alike would be thrilled to eat a few. 415 Sansome St.
photo by Ryan Robles
Sabrosa (pictured above)
Sabrosa opened it’s doors this past Wednesday in the former City Tavern space on the corner of Greenwich Street. The newest concept from the owners of The Brixton and Redford is already getting raves for its menu from former Nopalito chef, Jose Ramos. The Marina's new home-style Mexican kitchen and cocktail bar celebrates the launch of its space and the beginning of crab season with Jose's Salpicon de Jaiba – a melange of Dungeness crab meat, chayote squash, carrots, watermelon radish, and guacamole, served with a crispy tortilla. 3200 Fillmore St.
Alioto’s Restaurant (pictured above)
This San Francisco landmark, located in the heart of Fisherman’s Wharf since 1925, has been perfecting the art of the crab since before the Golden Gate bridge was constructed. Alioto’s famous crab cioppino has been delighting patrons since their opening, and is a true taste of San Francisco history. 8 Fisherman’s Wharf
photo by Ryan Robles
Local’s Corner (pictured above)
This intimate Mission eatery is known for beautiful seafood dishes, ocean-fresh oysters, and lovely wine selections. Chef Tim Malloy serves up delicate and vibrant fare inspired by the bounty of the ocean from the small open kitchen. In honor of crab season, enjoy their Dungeness crab salad with fennel, spring onion, and citrus. Also, on Fridays only, try the warm Dungeness crab roll on a fresh Knead Patisserie roll. 2500 Bryant St.
Whether you’re craving great Chinese food or tender, fresh crab, R&G Lounge is the ticket. Their infamous salt and pepper crab is so good it keeps this three-story restaurant busy every night. Start off with a Lychee Martini and accompany your finger-lickin’ meal with a quenching Tsingtao beer. Their signature crab is sprinkled with salt and pepper, deep fried, and served back in the shell. 631 Kearny St.
For those times when all you really want is a whole or half Dungeness, maybe with a squeeze of lemon or a dunk of melted butter, choose one of these restaurants for a pure, simple preparation: Swan’s Oyster Depot, Foreign Cinema, Bar Crudo, or Woodhouse Oyster Co.