San Francisco has a ton of choices for food lovers and those choices span all different types of cuisines and culinary genres. However, no matter what seems to be the popular trend of the times; delicious, local, and sustainable seafood is always a popular choice for both locals and visitors in this buzzing city by the bay. The undisputed king of the San Francisco culinary world is undoubtedly, the best crab in San Francisco, the Dungeness crab. Here at Fog Harbor Fish House we pride ourselves on being the best crab restaurant in San Francisco. We love serving this delicacy in the traditional ways but also serve it up in some new and interesting ways as well. We hope you’re as excited to learn all about Dungeness crab and why we love and cherish this dish in San Francisco.
THE HISTORY OF DUNGENESS CRAB IN SF
Seafood has always been a mainstay in the San Francisco bay and more specifically throughout Fisherman’s Wharf (if you couldn’t tell by the name!). Dungeness crab from San Francisco has become the star of the show and is now world famous. Eating Dungeness Crab in San Francisco is a rite of passage and easily tops lists of must-do activities in SF. The reason for this isn’t just because it’s delicious, (although that is a huge reason), it is because it was integral to the Italian culture in SF in the late 1800’s and helped shape an entire neighborhood.
What is now a delicacy used to be known as a pest in the fishing community. The dungeness crabs would snag and break fishing nets and fishermen would get frustrated with these crustaceans. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that Italian fishermen discovered how delicious these crabs tasted. These Italian immigrants took note of the commercial potential in what had been previously considered to be a pest. They eventually turned this ugly duckling into a regal swan. The fisherman first started by cooking and selling dungeness crab on the street. Word traveled fast around San Francisco and this dish soon became a must have by everyone. The unique taste set this seafood apart, and its limited season made it something that people would look forward to every year. From then on, restaurants around the city would seek out the crab for their menus whenever the season came about.
North Beach was the hub for all of these restaurants, and it is still known today as “little Italy” because of the Italian immigrants who lived in the area and popularized dungeness crab. The rest, they say, is history. Dungeness crab season continues to be highly celebrated whenever it comes around and word is still traveling that dungeness crab is not to be missed while you visit SF.
WHAT MAKES DUNGENESS CRAB DIFFERENT
There are so many different types of crab, over 6500 throughout the world. So what makes dungeness crab unique? Below you’ll get a look into the defining factors of this unique species, from where they are from, to what they taste like.
The best time to get dungeness crab in SF is when they are in season from November to June. While the season varies year to year, these are the typical months when commercial crabbing takes place.
Where are Dungeness Crabs From?
Fun fact: Dungeness crabs actually get their name from a town where they were first discovered, “Dungeness” which was located in the Olympic peninsula in Washington. The cold waters of the north west are where these delicious crustaceans call home. Most dungeness crabs live in Alaska. These crabs also tend to like shallower water. While they aren’t exclusively found in the northwest, this is where the majority of them reside. Some have been found as far south as Mexico.
What do they taste like?
Dungeness crabs are known for their delicate flavor and the meat is known for being slightly sweet. It is a milder meat than a lot of other seafoods and is even described as nutty at times. The texture of the body meat is tender, while leg meat can be slightly firmer. When you compare dungeness crab meat to that of say King crab, you’d be able to tell the difference immediately. King crab is often s to lobster. If you are interested in learning more about the difference between King Crab and Dungeness Crab, make sure to check out our blog post on just that. It goes into a deep dive on the differences between the two species.If you’re interested in cooking your own dungeness crab Pier Market has the best round up of Crab Recipes.
FOG HARBOR FISH HOUSE
Many top chefs have worked their creative magic to produce magnificent, succulent dishes where the protagonist is the Dungeness crab. There is nothing as heartwarming as sitting down to a delicious meal of Fog Harbor’s Dungeness crab Louie or our garlic roasted whole Dungeness crab. For the best Dungeness crab, San Francisco has to offer, you won’t get better than this.
Fresh & Sustainable
Dungeness crab is easily the best crab in San Francisco. With its rich history and delicate taste it is unbeatable when it comes to all the different crustaceans. At Fog Harbor Fish House, we have been serving this wonderful San Francisco crab for 30 years and use only the freshest crustaceans, hand-picked by our chefs, and sourced from our reliable purveyors. Quality and freshness are fundamental with strict regulations in place for this majestic creature of the sea. You should also note that our commitment to sustainability is full-fledged. We only serve 100% sustainable produce at our restaurant as well.
We pride ourselves in being the first restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf to source 100% sustainable food. This is part of the ethos of our restaurant and is also why we are part of the San Francisco “Green Business Certified” association. We know that the choices we make today will determine the fate of tomorrow’s ocean wildlife. By committing to serve only 100% sustainable seafood we are making a difference – and so are you. Sustainable seafood is fished or farmed in ways that do not negatively affect the fish populations or the environment.
Awards & Accolades
Being known as the best crab restaurant in San Francisco is also thanks to our many prestigious awards including the “Diners’ Choice Award”, “Best Seafood in San Francisco” KRON 4 award, being featured on Eater’s “Best Seafood Restaurants” list, and a “Certificate of Excellence” from Tripadvisor (to name just a few). We are so proud to be able to showcase our accomplishments. We love the recognition from the community for all the work that goes into creating the best crab restaurant in SF.
When to get Dungeness Crab
When the season begins for Dungeness crab, San Francisco becomes more vibrant than ever. There is a general buzz of excitement from restaurant owners, chefs, and consumers alike. The Dungeness crab season in San Francisco begins in Fall, usually just before Thanksgiving. It will usually run right through to June or July. The opening dates for crab season have been shifting in recent years. Make sure to set up alerts on google or check the local SF news outlets constantly. Make sure to mark your calendar, this is an event you don’t want to miss!
OUR SIGNATURE DUNGENESS CRAB DISHES
One of Fog Harbor Fish House’s signature dishes is most definitely our Garlic Roasted Whole Dungeness crab. Succulent, meaty, delicious. This seasonal delight is full of flavor, yet delicate, sweet and filling. The season’s opening has us buzzing with excitement as our chefs await the date to create their magic. Our restaurant visitors are never disappointed! This truly is the best place to eat crab in San Francisco. We source the freshest crab daily (only the best crab in San Francisco will do). This local favorite is a must-eat if you are in the mood to have a memorable Bay Area experience.
If you want to eat crab San Francisco is the right place. Fog Harbor Fish House has the best dungeness crab San Francisco has to offer. Our Dungeness crab cakes are a simple culinary treat and one of our house specialties. Served with a Cajun rémoulade, this tasty, rich dish will tickle your taste buds and have you screaming out for more. These little starters will set the theme for a full meal or will serve as a lighter meal if you are not feeling too hungry.
Our shellfish tower is another great option if you are looking for a variety of different types of seafood. This is the perfect dish to order as a starter for two people. Served with 6 freshly shucked oysters, 6 shrimp, ½ a lobster, and half a dungeness crab. This will be sure to take care of all your seafood cravings in one spot with the freshest seafood available.
Another great option, that is perfect for parties of 2 or 4 is our shellfish platter. Similarly to our shellfish tower, this dish is what you should order if you are looking for a large variety of different types of seafood. You don’t have to choose a favorite or if there’s a type of seafood that you don’t like, someone in your group can eat that while you get your favorite. The shellfish platter comes with crab, mussels, clams, shrimp and fingerling potatoes.
Scallop and Crab Risotto
This creamy rice dish is extremely rich and melts in your mouth. We sear the jumbo scallops and the crab is mixed within the risotto. The creamy texture is to die for. It’s also served with parmesan, basil pesto and buerre blanc. This is a filling main course, but it can also be a dish that you order to share with your party.
Clam Chowder topped with Crab
Another classic SF dish is clam chowder. We serve ours in a sourdough bread bowl that we bake fresh daily. Sourdough has its own unique history in SF and the bread bowl and clam chowder go hand in hand. If you want the most iconic SF experience, order up clam chowder in a bread bowl and ask for a topping of fresh dungeness crab. Not only does the crab add delicious flavor to the chowder, you’re also getting a taste of SF history. 3 in 1 if you will!
While we’re on the subject of SF history, you can’t miss our Cioppino. Cioppino is tomato based seafood stew that also gained popularity and was invented by the Italian fisherman and immigrants that called San Francisco home in the late 1800’s. When it was first introduced it was a mish-mash of whatever seafood was left from the day’s catch. Oftentimes that would include crab, shrimp, clams, and seasonal fish. We also add mussels to our version here at Fog Harbor Fish House. It’s a local favorite and we pride ourselves on the most delicious version you can find in Fisherman’s Wharf.
Steamed or roasted, cakes or rolls, whatever way you like your Dungeness Crab Fog Harbor Fish House is the best place for crab in San Francisco. We will often have specials when dungeness crab season is in ful force. Make sure to check back periodically to keep up to date with new dishes that we put on the menu.
OUR OPEN KITCHEN
At Fog Harbor Fish House, you get the feeling of a warm embrace the minute you walk into the lobby area where, in the colder months, a real fire will warm your heart. Eating al fresco is the perfect option when the weather permits. Whether you eat indoors or outdoors with our waterfront view, you can always enjoy the majestic view from the most perfectly located crab restaurant San Francisco has to offer. Fog Harbor is one of the best San Francisco restaurants on the water.
Our chefs enjoy working in our busy kitchen and their creativity is always gives them the challenge to produce more mouth-watering dishes every week. They enjoy the buzz from the electric kitchen environment but also enjoy those who observe them while busy at work. You can watch them go through the motions to create the amazing, award-winning food that arrives on your table. Our kitchen is open so you can have a glimpse at why so many people consider us to have the best seafood in San Francisco.
Our professional and courteous staff will look after your every need to make this a memorable evening. Gaze in wonder at the stunning Golden Gate Bridge while you set your taste buds on fire with our award-winning, tantalizing seafood delights. Our top chefs, who all have many years of experience and have particular skills with seafood, are artists who create the most divine delicacies for you to enjoy. All of this with an unforgettable backdrop of the spectacular San Francisco Bay. Treat yourself, and your friends and family to this experience. You know you deserve it! Make your reservation today.