This is actually my second time eating at the Crab House, and it wasn’t any better the second time around, not that it was bad. It is just a so-so type of place, but it always seems like a good choice for when people are visiting the city and want to eat seafood in an ambiance that is so characteristically San Francisco in the eyes of tourists around the world, Fisherman’s Wharf. Unfortunately, the food, like in most tourist traps, never seems to live up to the hype. CN was visiting San Francisco with her family and they wanted to have some seafood. I wonder if they were satisfied with the food.
Crab House is known, supposedly, for its world-famous Dungeness killer crab which is roasted in some sort of garlic seasoning. Each time we’ve come, we’ve ordered the crab which is pretty well-flavored, but I think my biggest complaint is that the crab is a little dry. I don’t know if it’s overcooked or maybe that’s just how the preparation is supposed to be. Either way, considering how much work it takes to crack the crab, I couldn’t help but be disappointed by how insignificant and chintzy the crab meat was after my efforts. What little meat I was able to dig out did taste reasonably good, but I think the crab that comes from Seafood Cove or Newport Seafood in the OC were so much better. Those crabs tend to have a saucier preparation like with ginger and scallions, but even the dry preparations manage to retain a little more juice in the crab meat.
The other dishes were similarly mediocre. I was expecting the garlic noodles to be something along the lines of Asian-style where they use the long spaghetti like egg noodles. Instead, the garlic noodles turned out to be more Italian-style but lacked any other flavor besides garlic. It was rather bland, and despite adding what felt like a hypertension-inducing amount of salt and pepper, I still didn’t think it was very good.
The garlic fries and caesar salad managed to be the high point of the meal, but I would argue that it is hard to get those two things wrong. When fries come out fresh from the fryer and served hot, crispy and well-tossed with lots of garlic, it’s hard to really say a bad thing. There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of garlic like what you get from the Gordon Birsch’s San Francisco-famous garlic fries.
The caesar salad was probably the most creative thing that we ordered, but it could also be considered laziness on the part of the kitchen, because it came as a large plate of romaine lettuce leaves and a large biscuit as a crouton, not chopped into edible pieces. I’m not picky though. I liked it and I think it was probably the best dish of the night.
Overall, the restaurant isn’t terrible, and it’s located right in the heart of Pier 39 so if anything, it gets points on a great location. However, the food really didn’t satisfy my craving for tasty crab. The price is okay, but the portions are definitely large so it’s great for big groups. Unfortunately, I doubt I would ever go again unless someone visiting really wanted to eat at Pier 39. I’m not sure its the best place food-wise. I think we might be better off just buying some crab off the stands along the wharf. It still might be a little pricey, but I think the food might taste better.
San Francisco, CA 94133
PAFO Ratings for Crab House:
Price 3 stars
Ambiance 3 stars
Food 2 ½ stars
Overall rating 2 ½ stars