Hog Island Oyster Company on the Embarcadero
Oysters are hit or miss, love em or hate em. Personally, I love them like a fat kid loves cake. Thankfully we have no shortage of fresh oysters available in San Francisco, and Hog Island Oyster Company ensures that we will always have a steady supply by harvesting them locally in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner.
Though always available during regular business hours, Hog Island’s oyster bar in the Ferry Building is packed every Monday and Thursday during happy hour from 5:00-7:00pm, when oysters are only $1 each and pints are $3.50. A quick word of advice, if you’re coming with a group larger than a pair, get there before 5:00pm or else you can expect to wait a very long time for a table. If you’re flying solo or with one other, you can usually snag a space at the standing tables, but it’s always best to arrive as early as possible. The wait may suck, but the oysters are always worth it. To kill time, just watch the shuckmasters shuck like a million oysters per minute, those guys have some serious skills!
Hog Island offers a variety of oysters on their menu including locally harvested oysters from their farm in Tomales Bay, and other varieties from both coasts of the US. During happy hour, however, they usually only offer one or two varieties of their harvested oysters. These include Pacific Sweetwater, Atlantic, and Kumamoto oysters.
- Pacific Sweetwater oysters are about 3-3.5″ in size, and have oval-shaped shells with deep flutes. They are rich and salty, with a slightly sweet flavor.
- Atlantic oysters are about 2-3″ in size, and have slightly green smooth, oblong shells. Also known as Blue Point oysters, these have a more briny and mineral taste.
- Kumamoto oysters are a bit smaller at 1.5-2″ in size, and have small shells with deep flutes. They are more sweet and have a buttery texture, and have a slight mineral finish.
All are very good, and very very fresh. The oysters are delivered live from their Tomales Bay farm every morning, so you know you are getting the absolute freshest oysters daily. They also offer other fresh seafood dishes utlizing local organic ingredients, though I have only been here for the oysters and beer. Why stray from an already perfect gameplan?
Though you can get $1 fresh oysters from many places during happy hour (like Waterbar and B Bar), especially on or around the Embarcadero, I enjoy eating them at Hog Island because of their sauce, which they call “Hog Wash.” It’s made with vinegar, shallots, cilantro, jalepeno, and lime. It goes perfectly with the oysters when you use just a tad, otherwise it will overpower the natural flavors of the oyster. Pair this with an ice cold pint of beer and you have yourself a perfect afternoon enjoying the view of the water.
Outside of happy hour, the prices can be fairly steep, ranging from $27-30 for a dozen. Suffice to say, I only come here during happy hour, and it seems like that’s when most people come here too. As I mentioned earlier, the wait can be intense if you don’t arrive before 5:00pm. But if you manage to snag a spot at the bar, you owe it to yourself to enjoy a couple dozen of these little gems of the sea.
Hog Island Oyster Company
1 Ferry Building Shop #111
San Francisco, CA 94111
Filed under: Embarcadero, Restaurants | 6 Comments
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