Although close to home, we never ventured into The Old Clamhouse, which is San Francisco’s oldest restaurant, still in its original location on Bayshore Boulevard since 1861. From its earliest beginnings, the establishment has survived many city transformations, including the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906.
Over 155 years later, it is still in tact and continues to serve fresh seafood and cocktails. The Old Clam House was constructed on what was then the waterfront to the south of Islais Creek, just below Bernal Heights.
Old Clamhouse: A San Francisco Institution
It was first named The Oakdale Bar & Clam House, the restaurant at one time was connected to downtown San Francisco by an estimated two miles of plank road. It quickly became a gathering place for the waterfront workers and neighbors settling in the area, during an era when the Bay Area contained a thriving fishing industry.
From salads to fried crab cakes, they’ve got you covered and the portions are reasonably large, so a great place to go as a group.
If you want to go on the lighter side, there’s plenty of salads (including a classic Caesar) and fresh veggie options to choose from — we went for a combination of both.
One of the classic dishes worth mentioning because it’s one of the things the Old Clamhouse is most known for, is their seafood stew – oh so yum! Imagine a mish mash of seafood and shellfish (the mussels are to die for), simmering on the oven for hours in a scrumptious tomato sauce.
We’ve been to the restaurant several times but on this occasion, we were there as a party of six, so this dish is a popular one to share when you’re heading to the Old Clamhouse as a group.
Inside, the ambiance is cut out from an old western movie. And truth be told, it’s old enough to feel spirits from old wandering about, but it’s also one of the things that make it so interesting.
The decor is fun and authentic, with blue checked tablecloths throughout. If you’re a party of two or four, I’d suggest sitting on the front porch if the weather is reasonable, next to a window for people and car watching. They also have these lovely booths in the back room which are perfect for two couples dining together.
The Old Clamhouse is really considered an institution by many locals who say they have been going for years. If you’re passing through San Francisco and want an authentic seafood experience, head south and get ready for some clam, oyster and mussel magic. Head on over to their website for the menu and latest. Be sure to check out our San Francisco section as well as our Food/Wine section and our Restaurant Reviews section.
The Old Clamhouse