The arrival of Dungeness crab season in Fisherman's Wharf is one of those squeal-worthy seasonal turning points. Local fishermen bring in prized Dungeness crab from the Pacific Ocean and with it, the delectable taste of sweet, buttery Dungeness crab dishes of all kinds. It’s a haven for the seafood maven!
That tender crustacean delicacy we love so much is now scuttling onto classic dishes like the crab-forward Cioppino, saffron crab risotto, crispy crab cakes, baked crab dip, and fresh, locally caught Dungeness crab, whether it’s whole steamed, roasted in a garlic buttery sauce or chilled.
Either way, arm yourself with a bib because we're going in.
Here are nine Fisherman’s Wharf restaurants serving the West Coast’s favorite crustacean.
Pier Market Chef Cecilio Rojas is excited about the opening of Dungeness crab season and can’t wait to serve up garlic-roasted whole Dungeness crab.
“Dungeness crab is sweet and tender,” said Rojas who has been with Pier Market for 38 years. “Deliciously roasted to perfection with herbs, garlic buttery sauce, and one secret ingredient that combines the flavors together with an amazing kick.”
Come on out to Pier Market and try the delicious Dungeness crab (half or whole) steamed and served with drawn butter, or oven roasted with garlic. The crab cakes with Cajun rémoulade are to die for. Or you can warm up with a rich and smoky clam chowder in a sourdough bowl and top it off with extra crab meat. Yum!
Pier Market on Pier 39 is celebrating its 40th anniversary THIS year!
Cioppino is a seafood stew that originated in San Francisco in the late 19th century and is a popular dish at many seafood restaurants such as Cioppino’s in Fisherman’s Wharf. The dish is said to have been created by Italian immigrants who worked as fishermen in the City's bustling port. They would often prepare a stew using the catch of the day, which typically included a variety of fish, shrimp, clams, and crab, all simmered in a tomato-based broth with white wine, garlic, and herbs. The dish was popular among the Italian-American community in San Francisco and eventually gained wider popularity in the United States. Today, it is considered a classic dish of Californian cuisine.
Cioppino’s in Fisherman’s Wharf is serving a bountiful seafood extravaganza of Dungeness crab legs, clams, mussels, snapper, shrimp and calamari stewed in a savory tomato broth, and served with garlic sourdough toast. Cioppino’s is also serving freshly caught in- or out-of-shell Dungeness crab, steamed or garlic roasted with cocktail sauce and melted butter. Indulge in their local Dungeness crab cakes and Fisherman’s Wharf Louie Salad with Dungeness crab meat.
Fog Harbor Fish House
To celebrate Chinese New Year, the chefs at Fog Harbor Fish House and the Grand Marshall of the 2023 Chinese New Year parade, Martin Yan from the hit TV show “Yan Can Cook!” have collaborated to release a special dish for the two weeks of Lunar New Year (Sunday, January 22 and ends on Sunday, February 5). Fog Harbor’s Spicy Red Envelope Crab is a whole Dungeness crab feast centered around a sweet, tangy tomato sauce, thickened with egg and served with steamed rice.
It’s perfect when paired with a glass of chardonnay!
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Sitting on the dock of the bay, Scoma’s is a family-owned restaurant and San Francisco institution on Pier 47 that’s been cracking Dungeness crabs from pier to plate for nearly six decades.
When they opened in 1965, the owners (brothers Al and Joe Scoma) used their mother’s recipe collection to create the menu. This roasted local crab with garlic and olive oil is a classic offered chilled or steamed.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to make a mess on date night, Scoma’s Lazy Man’s Cioppino is served with lump crab meat (shells are pre-cracked or removed), Manila clams, mussels, scallops, calamari, and fish, all marinating in a spicy tomato stew, and served in a large bowl with fresh sourdough bread. Buon appetito!
Crab House does not disappoint when it comes to bay views and crab specials. Their world-famous “Killer Crab®”, a 2-pound Dungeness is trademarked for a reason!
Enjoy the Killer Crab Combo while overlooking breath-taking views of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, and Fisherman’s Wharf. This dish features a whole Dungeness crab roasted in a secret garlic sauce and is served with mussels and shrimp on a sizzling iron skillet. Don’t forget other menu favorites like garlic crab fries, garlic crab noodles, crab fried rice, crab cakes and more.
Sabella & La Torre
A seafood Italian staple in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf, Sabella & La Torre Restaurant and Crab Stand has been serving up Dungeness crab since 1927.
The buttery sauce that coats the crab meat and the shells is part of the pleasure of this classic dish served whole steamed, chilled, or roasted to perfection with garlic, melted butter, lemon wedges, and other seasonings.
The Dungeness crab cocktails are filled with generous chunks of crab meat, while the crab sandwiches are stuffed to the gills with Dungeness meat tucked in a sourdough bread, brioche bun, or Panini and served with French fries.
Sabella & La Torre also has a historic crab stand at the entrance of the restaurant where you can purchase locally caught whole Dungeness crab and have the fishmonger do the cleaning and cracking for you.
You'll find Pescatore Trattoria ideally located inside the Hotel Zoe between the lively waterfront of Fisherman's Wharf and San Francisco's historic social hub of North Beach. And with fresh locally-sourced seafood and Italian heritage, Pescatore gets to celebrate the best of both worlds.
With options ranging from crispy Dungeness crab cakes served with a caper-lemon butter sauce to creamy saffron rice topped with Dungeness crab meat, Pescatore does not disappoint.
You can also take comfort in a steamy bowl of Cioppino with Dungeness crab, white shrimp, Manila clams, diced fish, and squid in a delicious tomato sauce with fresh herbs, served with grilled Focaccia bread.
The Argonaut Hotel features the stylish, street-side Blue Mermaid restaurant, a popular seafood eatery known for its chowders that boasts a relaxing seaside atmosphere and a large helping of old Gold Rush-era San Francisco ambiance.
Anchoring the menu is an array of fresh seafood classics. From a variety of award-winning sourdough bread bowl chowders like Blue Mermaid's Dungeness Crab and Roasted Corn Chowder featuring a rich, creamy crab stock with potatoes and bacon to the Dungeness crab dip, Dungeness Crab Louis salad, and cracking Cioppino, it’s a "seafoodie's" dream.
Want to recreate these dishes yourself?
In addition to feasting on Dungeness crab in restaurants, you can now make your own dishes with the freshest crab available on the West Coast.
Prior to 2022, off-the-boat sales in Fisherman's Wharf were not allowed, but thanks to a pilot program launched by the Port Commission, these local fishers can now sell live, whole Dungeness crabs straight to the public from the docks behind Scoma's at Pier 47 and Pier 45. Fridays and Saturdays — and occasionally on Sundays — fishermen are selling fresh crab at 7 AM until they sell out. We promise it's worth missing your weekend snooze to line up at the docks early.