Where to Find the Best Chowder in San Francisco

  • Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

If you're going to be exploring the historic and quirky Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, an experience you cannot miss out on is sitting by the harbourside munching on some fresh chowder. One of our favourite San Fran memories is smacking our lips on chowder, hearing the wails of the wharf seals in the background and soaking in the sunshine.

Walking along the piers you might just feel a bit at loss about where to eat - they all look so damn good! - so here are our top five chowder hotspots.

Fog Harbour Fish House

This great spot on Pier 39, just opposite the Aquarium of the Bay, is ideal for seafood that won't break the bank. The clam chowder in the sourdough bread bowl is a particular highlight of the menu, while locals will rave about the dessert menu, especially the apple crisp. Many will also come here for the fantastic views of the bay, and $6 for a cup of clam chowder ensures that you aren't paying over the odds for the ultimate San Fran experience.

 Fog Harbor Fish House

Scoma's

For something a bit more upmarket, Scoma's on Pier 47 often gets great reviews. Boasting an extensive menufeaturing clam chowder and all the local specials, this place often gets crowded around lunch and dinner time - it may be worth booking a table in advance if you can.

Over the years, this eatery has become an institution in its own right, with its large sign being seen from all over the city, and its waiting staff in tuxedos serving out tender scallops and juicy crab chunks. And before you leave, be sure to check out the cocktails - they are simply to die for. Head to the upper bar if you want an amazing view of the water.

 Scomas, San Francisco

Bubba Gump Shrimp Market

Alright, this one may be a bit touristy, but we think that's part of its charm. It's on Pier 34, so as you can imagine a lot of people come here, but with its friendly staff, laid-back atmosphere and tasty chowder, you can't really go wrong. Look out for all the movie memorabilia that is dotted around, and you can even take home a souvenir of your own by taking away with you their cocktail glasses. Why? Well the whole place is inspired by the 1994 Tom Hanks film!

If you can, grab a window seat and enjoy watching the boats come in and out, all in front of eerie Alcatraz.

Want to discover more cool things to do in San Francisco? Check out our city guide! 

 Bubba Gump Shrimp Co

Ciopinno's

This restaurant may involve a bit of a detour to Jefferson Street, but it's certainly worth it. The chowder here comes with added bacon, to make it extra salty, while the popcorn shrimp will keep you coming back for more. Everything here has a bit of an Italian twist, and the menu is quite extensive; perfect for even the fussiest of eaters. Whatever you choose off the menu, make sure you get the local sourdough.

Combine your meal with some tasty sangria or the house chardonnay, and you're sorted. Just try and not giggle when they give you your plastic crab bibs.

 Ciopinno's

Tarantino's

No, it's not owned by the famous movie director, but it serves up some pretty scrumptious chowder. This place is also on Jefferson Street, offers a good wine list, brilliant seafood and amazing views of the piers and Alcatraz - what more could you really ask for in a San Franciscan lunch?

Tarantino's, San Francisco

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