Part of what makes San Francisco such a world-class culinary destination is its diverse selection of seafood. While crab and oysters remain crowd favorites amongst shellfish dishes, there’s also a passionate group of food lovers who favor fresh or saltwater mussels. Served a variety of ways including smoked, steamed and lathered in butter, mussels may surprise those who have never sampled it. Here is a look at five of the best places to find mussels in San Francisco.
1453 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
This small neighborhood French bistro in Potrero Hill has a menu with a special section all of its own for les moules-frites. The Provencale ($15) leads the four variations of mussels (recommended with fries) with a generous amount of tomato concasse, along with flavors associated with cuisine from Southern France – basil, garlic and bell peppers and olives and cream. The remaining three equally priced dishes are Thai-style mussels, the classic Mariniere with garlic and white wine and another traditional French dish with a delicious sauce – Poulette. Other dishes on the menu include a nice selection of appetizers, crepes, panini and entrees such as striped bass, flat iron steak and salmon. Chez Maman has a second location in the Hayes Valley just a few blocks from City Hall.
Related: Best Bistros On The Peninsula
Hog Island Oyster Co.
The Ferry Building Marketplace
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
More acclaimed as one of the best spots in San Francisco for oysters, this lively spot also offers other outstanding seafood dishes such as mussels and fresh fish. Although the menu changes periodically, the only dish currently available with mussels can be found in the Bowl + Plates section ($14) with optional fries ($3). However, past guests have raved about this traditional dish complete with shallots, celery leaves, leeks, mustard, white wine and butter. Additionally, the flavorful Rustic Seafood Stew ($20) will typically feature fresh local fish and shellfish such as mussels and clams. Located in the historic Ferry Building near Market Street, Hog Island Oyster Bar offers a gorgeous view of the San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge.
La Trappe Cafe
800 Greenwich St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
Like other great San Francisco restaurants offering delicious mussel dishes, this outstanding Belgian Bistro in North Beach has a special section on its menu reserved for this shellfish delicacy. Guests can order either a small ($14) or large ($21 served with Belgian fries) serving of mussels, along with four choices of sauces. The classic Mariniere heads the list of sauces, featuring finely chopped onions and shallots, a taste of white wine and witbier, and herbs. Another highly praised dish is Moules a la Biere, prepared with a dark Belgian beer sauce, onions and shallots. The remaining two sauces are Konkan, an Eastern Indian-inspired sauce with red onions, tomatoes, curry leaf and coconut milk, and Spicy Tomato, with mussels slow cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. La Trappe Café and its Trappist beer lounge on the main level have arguably the best selection of Belgian beers in the city.
40 Belden Place
San Francisco, CA 94104
Past guests overwhelmingly insist Plouf has the most delicious mussels in San Francisco. Located in the Financial District section commonly referred to as the city’s French Quarter, this French seafood bistro specializes in mussels ($18.50), oysters and other seafood dishes. Guests may choose from six different varieties using local organic produce for lunch or dinner – Plouf, Mariniere, Provencale, Coconut Broth, Curry and Poulette. Additionally, the restaurant offers a very affordable prix fixe menu for lunch ($24) and dinner ($32) that features a choice of mussels for the entrée. Although Belden Place is only one block long and a single lane, it hosts more than 10 restaurants, primarily classic sidewalk cafes featuring French-Californian cuisine.
552 Green St.
San Francisco, CA 94133
For delicious authentic Italian seafood, Sotto Mare (under the sea) is the best choice for dining in North Beach and likely the entire city. Among the popular favorite dishes served are mussel steamers in broth, clam steamers and a mussel-clam steamers combo all priced at $21. Ranked fifth among nearly 5,000 San Francisco restaurants by Trip Advisor, the restaurant’s signature dish ($41) is described as the “Best Damn Crab Cioppino” and more than enough for two satisfied guests. Other popular dishes include grilled sand dabs, grilled rex sole, pasta with seafood, crab cocktail and some of the best clam chowder in San Francisco.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.