Best Classic San Francisco Lunch - 2005
Swan Oyster Depot
Decades before some overpaid restaurant consultant coined the term "raw bar," this unpretentious landmark was serving up fresh seafood to a clientele of working-class regulars. Located in the same Polk Street storefront since 1912, Swan now attracts devotees from every niche of the social strata (although the Pacific Heights elitists prefer delivery service to eating elbow to elbow with the hoi polloi). The lunch line winds out the door year-round as folks patiently wait for one of the 15 counter spots to open up; if you disdain crowds, drop by after 1 on a weekday. Start with half a dozen oysters ($7.50) and an Anchor Steam, paired with a hunk of no-nonsense sourdough. Then share a combination salad of delectable crabmeat, prawns, and bay shrimp on a lawn of shredded iceberg lettuce, topped with Louis dressing ($14.95). A satisfying taste of old San Francisco, Swan doesn't take plastic -- and doesn't have a Web site.