Oysters are sustainable easy-to-farm mollusks native to the cold waters of the San Francisco Bay. Although they are supposed to only be enjoyed in the months that contain a letter ‘R,’ locals disregard this old wives’ tale and consume the briny bivalve year-round. Wondering where to order the freshly shucked delicacy on the half shell or baked to plump perfection? See below for our favorite places.
Although Boxing Room is a restaurant that specializes in the Cajun and Creole cuisine unique to New Orleans, the oysters here are a must-order. The selection varies, depending on the daily catch; but every weekday from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., there is a half-price option. The freshly shucked oysters come with tangy vinegar and juicy wedges of lemon; and on each table sits a small bottle of spicy and addictive hot sauce made in-house from a mixture of fermented red jalapenos and garlic finished with vinegar and salt. If you prefer cooked oysters, Boxing Room’s charbroiled garlic-herb-butter variation does not disappoint. The smoky oysters are topped with crispy breadcrumbs and are so delicious we dare you to have just one.
Hog Island Oyster Co.
Quite possibly my most favorite oyster spot in the universe, Hog Island Oyster Co. is located at the heart of San Francisco’s Ferry Building. It doesn’t get much better than slurping down a dozen raw, fresh oysters (pulled from the Tomales Bay farm every morning) while basking in the warm sunshine underneath the picturesque Bay Bridge. However, since January 15, locals have had to endure a grueling wait as the bar closed for an extensive remodel and expansion. Set to reopen in late April, with a larger menu, dedicated cocktail program, bigger kitchen and a massive 12-foot-long oyster bar, the revamped Hog Island 2.0 won’t disappoint. The number of seats has more than doubled, and the space itself is at least 2.5 times larger with plenty of room to experiment.
With its dark walls and small space, Bar Crudo is moody but inviting. The seafood spot serves a selection of enticing crudos alongside succulent oysters from both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. On a bed of bracingly cold ice, the oysters taste insanely fresh, as if they were just pulled from the ocean. Try to grab a seat at the tiny bar from 5 to 6:30 p.m. — the oysters are just $1. There’s other fish goodness to note: The herb- and jalapeño-marinated mussels, and manila clams with pink peppercorns, tarragon and white wine are both memorable, flavorful options. And the seafood chowder? Arguably one of the best in San Francisco.
Hog & Rocks
On the corner of 19th and Mission streets, you’ll find Hog & Rocks, a gem of a gastropub that offers an excellently curated assortment of ham (the hog) and oysters (the rocks). Local oysters from Tomales Bay mingle with bivalves from Washington (Kumamoto), British Columbia (Kusshi) and New Brunswick (Beausoleil). Barbecued oysters come with cocktail sauce and herb butter so you can load up on fragrant toppings. The best thing about Hog & Rocks — besides the oysters — are the cocktails. We recommend a strawberry balsamic margarita with a mezcal float or a jazzed up Old Fashioned (found in the Pimp My Old Fashioned section of the cocktails menu) made with barrel-aged Four Roses bourbon, gum syrup and orange bitters.
Photos Courtesy of Boxer Room and Hog Island Oyster Co.