Go Eat This Now: Bar Crudo

The $1.50 oysters and marinated mussels are wonderful, but don’t overlook the $5 crab back.

(Ryan Basso)

If I’m in the mood for something close to home and even closer to my heart — seafood — I need something fresh, something elevated, and something local. I need Bar Crudo.

Bar Crudo, which opened in 2005 at the corner of Grove and Divisadero streets, has grown into one of the most beloved and — yeah, I’m going to say it — underrated treasures of San Francisco over the last decade-and-a-half.  But Bar Crudo is so much more than a great date spot with quality seafood. It’s a sanctuary, whose happy hour puts the place in a league of its own. There is no other restaurant in the city where I can eat better food for under $20, every day of the week.

On weekdays, people line up from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. for one of the most sought-after seats in the neighborhood. If you’re lucky, you’re in for a treat. For $1.50, oysters and marinated mussels can be ordered by the dozens. Oyster deals are everywhere in San Francisco, but it’s the mussels that will keep you coming back. Marinated with herbs and japlapeño, their glowing yellow meat bursts with a tangy heat. Each bite has a little crunch from the pieces of pungent peppers in the marinade. They’re addicting.

Next is the $8 seafood chowder, the best in San Francisco. It’s as if a classic New England-style moved to the Bay Area and fell in love with a free spirit. Built on a foundation of manufacturing cream, smoky bacon, and potatoes, this chowder cranks it up a notch with an abundance of seafood. In every spoonful, you’ll find plump shrimp, springy squid, mussels, and bits of tuna, salmon, or buttery whitefish. The broth has an orange hue and a spicy flare that makes this chowder unique.

Order the $5 crab back if you see it on the raw bar, because it’s an exoskeleton full of crab fat and meat that does wonders to a piece of toast. It tastes like ready-made ocean pâté, and it’s a delicate finish to a lovely meal.

Bar Crudo is everything. It’s elegant, approachable, and guaranteed to be downright delicious. We all deserve to be able to enjoy the finer things in life, and every once in a while we need a reminder that we can.

Bar Crudo, 655 Divisadero St., 415-409-0679 or barcrudo.com

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