Despite what the rest of the world thinks, the US doesn’t solely survive on hamburgers and bad pizza. The country is a rich blend of cultures and customs, with its own unique culinary traditions. Of course, there are specialties unique to states or regions, but most Americans can relate to a few comforting home-style standards. Ask any American, and they will most likely have fond memories, and a healthy appetite, for CLAM CHOWDER!
Though there are several variations of clam chowder, the most well known is New England clam chowder. It originated in the North Eastern states but has spread all the way to the West Coast. The soup has a cream base, with potatoes, onions, and clams. Typically, it is flavored simply with clam juice and salt and pepper. The soup is almost always served with oyster crackers: a flour-based, salty crisp. In SF and other parts of the country, it is popular to order clam chowder in a bread round with the middle hollowed out, known as a bread bowl. While fresh clams are preferable when available, canned clams are also commonly used. The soup is simple to make and relatively inexpensive, making it an easy crowd pleaser.
In a place that is known for both its seafood and its sourdough bread, it shouldn’t be a surprise that San Francisco has some of the best clam chowder in the world. These 10 restaurants are sure to satisfy your chowder craving.
Boudin Bakery and Café
San Francisco’s most famous sourdough bread is a perfect pairing with their most excellent clam chowder. Try their crab and corn bisque or their traditional clam chowder in a warm and flakey bread bowl.
Located on Pier 39 is a fun and fast place to get your chowder fix. Their white or red clam chowders are served in a classic sourdough bread bowl.
Blue Mermaid Chowder House & Bar
The Blue Mermaid Chowder House is decorated to perfection with vintage posters and beautiful mermaid statues that will transport you back to the Barbary Coast of old San Francisco. They offer a whopping six different kinds of homemade chowders so bring a friend and order the sampler trio to try them all.
Sabella & La Torre
As one of the oldest restaurants in San Francisco, Sabella & La Torre has their chowder recipe down to a science. Try a cup of their clam chowder with a delicious crab or shrimp sandwich or go all in with a bowl of their Boston style, Manhattan style, or traditional clam chowder.
Fog Harbor Fish House
With 100% sustainable seafood and fresh sourdough bread baked in-house every hour, the Fog Harbor Fish House is a must-visit for a delicious cup of chowder. Try their award-winning clam chowder in a cup, bowl, or sourdough bread bowl.
Swan Oyster Depot
Arguably the best clam chowder on the Wharf, Nick’s Lighthouse offers delicious chowder and a wine and beer list full of local brews. Stop by for their clam chowder and stay for their fun and friendly atmosphere.
Another oldie but goodie, Fishermen’s Grotto opened its doors in 1935 on Fisherman’s Wharf. If the weather is nice, make sure to get a table outside so you can take in the views of the city while you enjoy your pick of Boston or Coney Island clam chowder.
For the ultimate San Francisco experience, head to Scoma’s for their famous clam chowder and hideaway feel. In 1965, Scoma’s began as a coffee shop for weary fishermen looking for a good breakfast after early mornings out on the Bay. Today, it has become one of the most successful independent restaurants in America, as well as a San Francisco hotspot.