There's a quintessential hashery to every city. Los Angeles has its Langer's, The Oinkster, and for the hip and trendy; Father's Office. As for San Francisco, nothing comes closer to archetypal SF than Swan Oyster Depot. Established in the early 1900's, it started as a horse drawn carriage serving fresh seafood to the masses. It has since grown into a crowded bar of 19 wobbly wooden stools, rust stained walls littered with paraphernalia of all decades. The vintage cash register and cash only policy adds to its rustic charm.
I've lost count of my visits to Swan, but this time it's a bit different. No longer a tourist, but a local, I revel in the exchange between Erik and I -- curious about the different species of mollusks like a toddler in a candy shop. Erik, having been in the family business of shucking oysters for a while, knows his mollusks. But after much probing he divulges, "they look like boogers" and wrinkles his nose as he shucks them at the speed of clipping toe nails. Bivalves aren't the only flying fragments - tunas the size of my thighs are projected through the air like footballs.
Bluepoints are still my favorite, less briny than Miyagis and milder than Kumamotos. I said it once and I'll say it again - these alien-ish creatures are God's answer to unadulterated, primordial, sexy food.
After encountering a near death experience with clams, I adhere strictly to Swan Oyster Depot clams only. Their cherrystones are crisp, sweet and tastes of an unravaged pristine ocean, which we seem to lack nowadays.
Finishing off with their renowned Louie Salad, I think to myself, "Life is good."
Swan Oyster Depot
1517 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109