Related Articles: Restaurants, All

Dungeness Delight

The Best Crab in SF

For the Bay Area, Dungeness crab season goes hand in hand with the holidays, and this year there is much to celebrate. This season is projected to be the heartiest catch since 2006, so get your crab forks ready for heaps of crab meat doused in butter, garlic, and cocktails sauce.

All along Fisherman's Wharf, you can hear the brisk sounds of crackling crab as you take in the mouth-watering aroma. The restaurants near the wharf certainly attract more locals this time of year, but the local crustaceans find their way onto menus throughout the city.

Whether you've been craving cioppino or just want to get down and dirty with a whole roast, SF's got crabs, and we're here to help. Check out our picks for the best crab feasts in the City:

Woodhouse Fish Company
With two locations in San Francisco and a menu full of rich, savory seafood delights, Woodhouse Fish Company should definitely be on your Crab Season checklist.

For a full, crab-centric meal, start with the Stuffed Artichokes ($18), grilled and stuffed with Dungeness crab and bay shrimp. The semi-healthy app will get you all sorts of ready for the WFC Dungeness Crab (half $15/whole $27). The crab is served chilled or hot, cracked with lemon, or cracked and steamed in white wine, lemon, and garlic butter. We say butter is better. It'll be messy, but that's part of the fun.

For less mess, try the Dungeness crab melt ($12), which is essentially a fluffier, better-than-tuna melt, on a buttery East Coast style split-top bun, for easy eating. Cheddar is melted right on top, sealing the crab in and adding the perfect sharpness to balance the crab filling.

Tucked away off the main strip on Pier 47, Scoma's celebrates forty-five years this year — meaning forty-five crab seasons in San Francisco.

Executive Chef/Owner Steven Scarabos is a SF native who started as a line cook at Scoma's in 1984. Saying Chef Scarabos knows his seafood would be an understatement.

Scoma's is the only restaurant in SF to have its own licensed fishing boat that goes out every day to catch a portion of the restaurant's seafood. It also owns a fish-receiving station, maybe 30 feet from the restaurant, where the public can view fish and local Dungeness crab as it's prepared for the kitchen.

During crab season we recommend simply opting for the Dungeness crab ($19), or trying the Scoma's three-course prix-fixe dinner ($39.95), featuring Dungeness crab cakes on watercress salad with lemon vinaigrette and remoulade sauce; Dungeness crab ravioli with fried leeks, and your choice of dessert.

And just in time for the holidays, Scoma's Dungeness crab cakes are now available at select grocers, including Costco, Mollie Stones and Whole Foods.

Unlike its Italian sister restaurants, Beretta and Delarosa, Starbelly offers seasonal Californian fare, and we all know every good Californian restaurant gets a bit crabby this time of year. Starbelly is no exception.

On Tuesday December 7th from 5pm to 9pm, Starbelly will host a roaring Dungeness crab boil and chardonnay feast ($56) on its canopied outdoor patio. Join Chef Adam Timney (formerly of Bacar) and winemaker Jim Malone of Terra Savia Vineyards for this special family-style dinner that is limited to 60 people.

The event's menu boasts fresh Dungeness crab with drawn butter and remoulade sauce, soft homemade milk rolls, Caesar salad with avocado and garlic croutons, boiled potatoes, house-made smoked sausage, and spiced apple cobbler with brown sugar oat crumble.

Bistro Boudin
You might know this restaurant for it famous sourdough bread, but you'll soon love it for its creative crab dishes.

Chef Misael Reyes, formerly the private chef of Francis Ford Coppola, has all of the crab classics like Dungeness Crab Louis ($26.95) and Dungeness crab macaroni and cheese ($19.95), but he also puts an interesting twist on the seasonal crustacean by incorporating Boudin's famous sourdough bread into his dishes.

The Dungeness crab spinach and artichoke dip ($12.95) is served in a sourdough bread bowl, with slices of crispy garlic butter crostini. Don't be afraid to eat the bowl after you've devoured the dip. The Dungeness crab sourdough tortilla tacos ($14.95) have a clever Boudin sourdough tortilla that Chef Reyes created for this dish. The flatbread-like tortilla doesn't overpower the fresh Dungeness crab. Another fun creation is the Dungeness crab and shrimp pizza ($15.95) with fresh pesto, mozzarella and tomato confit.

Presidio Social Club
The Presidio Social Club celebrates crab season with tits “West Coast Crab Roast”, available Mondays at 5pm. The dinner features fire-roasted half Dungeness crab with garlic pasta and hot crab broth on the side for $20.

Chef Ray Tang created this Monday-night special to bridge San Francisco comfort food with a little Asian heat. The crab is steamed, then bathed in a compound of butter, anchovy, garlic, chile and herbs, before roasting. The pasta is tossed with crab butter and parsley, while the crab broth is seasoned with lemongrass, ginger, chiles, lime, and other aromatic spices. The whole meal has a nice amount of heat to it, but it doesn't subtract from the heartiness of the crab.

The Crab House
During Crab Season it's fun to get down with your SF tourist self and get your crab on at Fisherman's Wharf. Located Upstairs in the heart of Pier 39's tourist town, The Crab House is the place to get crabs.

The menu includes all of the favorites, but also features a lot of nice combinations so you can have your crab and eat your shrimp, too. The Iron Skillet-Roasted Mussels, Shrimp and Crab combo ($39.95) is a nice one to share before digging into The Crab Angel Hair Lasagna ($17.95), a baked pasta dish with a rich, crab and cream sauce.

Another nice combo is the surf-n-turf, perfect for the meat lover bending a bit for Crab Season. You get a Filet Mignon, served in its natural pan juices, and Dungeness Killer Crab roasted in the Crab House's secret garlic sauce, for $44.95.

The Crab House also offers tableside mini courses on how to properly crack and eat Dungeness crab. The waiters and waitresses are pros and are happy to teach you their tricks — you'll never let a little crab intimidate you again.