SF is surrounded by water, which explains the abundance of seafood restaurants in this town. They mostly fall into two categories: old-school spots where Ariel and her animal friends might bust through a porthole on the wall, and buttoned-up places catering to the upper crust who regularly swipe their corporate card. Popi’s Oysterette is the happy medium, and you’ll always have a pleasant time here.
We welcome this Marina spot to the seafood scene because they excel in the art of the Effortlessly Fun Meal. There’s no planning needed or build-up to a trip here. You can saunter in unannounced for a low-effort afternoon catch-up with a friend visiting from a landlocked state, or Happy Hour with $7 glasses of rosé. The breezy space and tastefully nautical decor put you at ease while working to get you hyped about the bunch of shellfish you’re going to suck back. The dining room looks plucked out of a San Diego-inspired mood board, with ocean-blue tiles, ropes hanging overhead, and photos of surfers on the walls. Staff drop off checks in empty cans of Campbell’s clam chowder, which, ironically, you’ll swear off forever after eating one spoonful of Popi’s version.
The menu itself isn’t anything over-the-top. Just a bunch of colorful seafood salads, sandwiches, and raw bar dishes that feel light and refreshing. You can slurp up raw and grilled oysters at the bar, fill your entire table with well-stuffed crab rolls, smoky trout dip, and incredible green cioppino, or just linger over a glass, or four, of something from their short and sweet wine list. This place is a temple of seafood for pretty much any occasion. Even if you’re someone who avoids the Equinox-powered yuppie playground that is the Marina like it’s your full-time job, just get here.
Popi’s Oysterette uses tomatillos in their spicy-ish version versus the typical tomato—and it pays off. The green stew has a respectable kick, and is loaded with clams, mussels, silky squid, and fall-apart crab. Roll up your sleeves, grab a cracker, and dig in.
For a clam chowder to be the most talked-about dish on the table at a restaurant starring more sea creatures than the Cal Academy of Sciences, it has to be really good. Like, really really good. And this one is. Get a bowl for yourself and revel in the meaty bacon chunks. Then finish it in two minutes flat.
Popi’s Oysterette oysters stand out thanks to the yuzu tobiko that comes on the side. It’s a subtle yet bright addition we’re super into.
The crust arrives a little soggy, since it’s served in a brown paper sleeve, but the golden bass is cooked so well you won’t mind.
Dungeness Crab Roll
You like crab? You’ll love this. It's heavy on the mayo (in a good way), and all tucked into a soft Firebrand brioche roll. Though, watch out for the occasional shell.