10 Of The Bay's Best Clam Chowders

Forget what you know about New England's stake on clam chowder — San Francisco's chowder-and-sourdough combo is in a league of its own. And, this time of year, there's nothing that lifts our spirits quite like an indulgent, pipin'-hot bowl of soup.
Of course, we’d never have you waste time and calories on subpar food, so we’ve taste-tested the city's best contenders to bring forth the freshest and most unique chowders around. Whatever you’re in the mood for, from thick and creamy to buttery and briny, these mouthwatering concoctions will satisfy your cravings — and then some. Soup's on!

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Photographed by Alejandra Sabillon
Clam Chowder at Dante’s Weird Fish, $4.25 to $6.50
This quirky Mission spot serves up a spicy spin on a classic chowder (that's chili oil drizzled on top!), and it’s also one of the more well-priced options we’ve seen, at just $4.25 for a cup or $6.50 for a bowl. The mega-hearty soup is filled with big chunks of clam and potato, so it could easily be a meal in itself. Plus, there’s generally not much of a wait at this neighborhood spot, so it’s a quick, easy option when you need your chowder fix, stat.
Dante's Weird Fish, 2193 Mission Street (at 18th Street); 415-863-4744.
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Photographed by Alejandra Sabillon
Clam Chowder at Hog Island Oyster Bar, $14
Covered with fresh Tomales Bay clams in the shell, Hog Island’s chowder is a total feast for the eyes — and the stomach. Trust us, you’ll want to use that accompanying soft sourdough roll to slurp up every last bit of the buttery broth. The indoor-outdoor seating along the water means you can soak up the gorgeous views of the Pier while you’re at it. Hard to get more San Francisco than that.
Hog Island Oyster Bar, 1 Ferry Building, #11 (on the Embarcadero); 415-391-7117.
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Photographed by Alejandra Sabillon
Clam Chowder at Bar Crudo, $6 to $15
Okay, so this one is actually clam chowder, per se, it’s seafood chowder — filled with fish, mussels, squid, and more — but this rich, peppery bowl of goodness is just too good to leave off the list. While it will normally cost you $15 bucks, get here during happy hour from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and you can snag yourself a helping for just $6. We’re major fans of this NoPa resto’s romantic, industrial ambiance, too — perfect for your next date night.
Bar Crudo, 655 Divisadero Street (between Grove and Hayes streets); 415-409-0679.
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Photographed by Alejandra Sabillon
Clam Chowder at Woodhouse Fish Co., $6 to $9
We love Woodhouse Fish Co. for its comfort seafood, reasonable prices, and unpretentious nautical vibe (think specials scribbled on chalkboards and mounted faux-fish on the walls). Of course, we especially appreciate the hearty, steaming cups of clam chowder. A splash of white wine gives the soup a unique (and nom-y)! flavor. Get here on a Tuesday where alongside your chowder, you can help yourself to $1 oysters, too.
Woodhouse Fish Co., 2073 Market Street (at 14th Street); 415-437-2722 and 1914 Fillmore Street (at Wilmot Street); 415-437-2722.
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Photographed by Alejandra Sabillon
Clam Chowder at Scoma’s, $7 to $11
Up an alley and overlooking some seriously stunning Fisherman’s Wharf views is iconic Scoma’s. Sure, the neighborhood is tourist-ville, but the thick chowder, featuring an impressive four types of clams, will make the trip worth your while. In true San Francisco form, it’s served with a bread basket.
Scoma's, 47 Al Scoma Way (on Pier 47); 415-771-4383.
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Photographed by Alejandra Sabillon
Clam Chowder at Mission Street Oyster Bar, $3.95 to $5.50
An oyster bar on Mission Street? It may seem unlikely, but it’s there and it’s tasty! The decor may be no-frills, but the food definitely does not disappoint. The street’s namesake oyster bar serves up a satisfying clam chowder that fills the no man’s land between the thick, creamy soups and the thinner, broth-like varieties. Note: There’s even a happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m., every day of the week, where you can wash down your chowder with $2.50 draft beer and $1 oysters.
Mission Street Oyster Bar, 2282 Mission Street (between 18th and 19th streets); 415-621-6987.
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Photographed by Alejandra Sabillon
Clam Chowder at Pacific Cafe, $5 to $7
Craving some chowder after a hike or a trip to the ocean? This family-friendly Outer Richmond restaurant is exactly what the doctor ordered. Pacific Cafe’s chowder is super flavorful, packed with potato and clam, and has that Goldilocks-approved, not-too-thick-and-not-too-thin consistency. Bonus: If the line’s long, the staff will serve up complimentary glasses of wine while you wait.
Pacific Cafe, 7000 Geary Boulevard (between 34th and 35th avenues); 415-387-7091.
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Photographed by Alejandra Sabillon
Clam Chowder at Sotto Mare, $5 to $7.50
Located smack in the heart of North Beach (with the requisite, adorable indoor-outdoor seating), Sotto Mare whips up a mean New England-style clam chowder. It has all the classic accoutrements: Big chunks of clam and potato in the actual soup, plus an entire loaf of bread on the side, for your dipping pleasure. And, what a pleasure it is — scrumptious and filling, but not too heavy. We say, dunk away!
Sotto Mare, 552 Green Street (at Jasper Street); 415-398-3181.
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Photographed by Alejandra Sabillon
Clam Chowder at Anchor Oyster Bar, $4.95 to $6.50
This Castro mainstay is a local favorite — and for good reason! The seafood dishes are fresh and simple and the clam chowder is no exception. It’s super creamy and loaded with clams, potatoes, and celery. Yum! We’re also fans of the cozy-casual ambiance and the underwater theme it's got going on, complete with ropes and anchors along the walls.
Anchor Oyster Bar, 579 Castro Street (between 18th and 19th streets); 415- 771-4383.
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Photographed by Alejandra Sabillon
Clam Chowder at Swan Oyster Depot, $5.35
Since Swan Oyster Depot doesn’t take reservations and has a maximum capacity of about 15 patrons, you’ll probably have to stand in line awhile to snag a seat. And, yes, the clam chowder is totally worth the wait. Expect a briny, clam-infused broth yummy enough to wipe out any memory of said wait time. Once you’ve secured a spot at this famed locale, we suggest helping yourself to its other seafood offerings, too. You really can’t go wrong.
Swan Oyster Depot, 1517 Polk Street (between California and Sacramento streets); 415-673-1101.