The Buzz About the Franciscan

Iron Skillet Crab, Mussels, and Shrimp

The Club -

The Colorado Rockies visit the Crab House at Pier 39.

The Colorado Rockies visit the Crab House at Pier 39. Click here to watch at Vimeo.

- "Dine Like It's '59: 12 California restaurants that savor dishing up the mid-century experience"

Tourist-filled locales like Fisherman's Wharf are not always known for good taste—and that goes for the food as well as the kitsch-filled shops. That may be why Franciscan Crab has succeeded so well since it pulled ashore in 1957, "like a docked yacht waiting to head out to sea," in the words of restaurant critic Michael Bauer of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The food, by most accounts, is fairly good, especially the crab (when you can get it). Also winning praise have been the Caesar salad and fish and chips. The views of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate, and the hills of Marin County are outstanding of course—but so is the architecture, in a deliberately over-the-top manner.

It's a tourist town version of architecture-as-advertisement, not unlike Googie coffee shop architecture.

"Why shouldn't a statuesque seafood restaurant look like a glassy ocean liner pulling into port? The gimmick is delivered with such a straight face that it's easy to miss the prow-like shape of the front, or the dancing fish that form a cornice line," the Chron's architecture writer, John King, has wondered.

The architect behind this glass-walled design, Hewitt C. Wells, may not have been prolific, but he was bold. For a Reno library he arrayed books and reading rooms on floating islands around an immense multi-level indoor garden.

INSIDE SCOOP SF - "Michael Bauer’s guide to the best places to dine on Christmas"

Inside Scoop Article

INSIDE SCOOP SF - "Picking the best Bay Area restaurants for Dungeness crab"

Crab with Buttery Garlic Sauce"One of the big surprises as I was dining at the Crab House at Pier 39, a part of the San Francisco Port restaurant series that’s been running since last year in the Food & Wine section, is how good the crab is. The place is all decked out in white tile and overlooks the bay; the crab comes on a sizzling skillet with a buttery garlic sauce ($24.95/$38.95 for 2+ pounds) — and a bib, which is needed.

If you want slightly more formal surroundings, and even better views, sister restaurant the Franciscan farther down Fisherman’s Wharf also serves the same style crab."

Click here for entire article


OpenTable - The Franciscan Crab Restaurant Named a Most Scenic Restaurant in the US, Wins 2011 OpenTable Diners' Choice Award. The Franciscan Crab Restaurant is pleased to announce that we've won a 2011 OpenTable Diners' Choice Award for most scenic view. Culled from more than seven million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners, the Franciscan Crab Restaurant bested more than 12,000 other restaurants in the U.S. to snag this award. Thanks to all our diners who have helped us make the Franciscan Crab Restaurant one of the best restaurants for scenic dining in the U.S. and in San Francisco! Be sure to book your tables in advance now that the word is out.

Sunset Magazine Review

customer email - "I wanted to take this time to let you know that I had another fantastic time at your restaurant. Your food, for being in the heart of chaos, is fantastic and your staff is amazing. I have been to the Franciscan more times than I can count and am sorry I have not sent this message before. So here is goes, Drew is AMAZING! He is made for Guest Service. I have prior experience in the food industry and have always been in the customer service field. He and the rest of your wait staff/bussers/kitchen have a fantastic opportunity to give people a really fun dinning experience and they do! Thank you so much and keep up the great job!"

customer email - "We are veteran visitors to San Francisco....going back 20 years. We live in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area of Florida. We are very leery about eating in restaurants in tourist areas. We were staying in a San Francisco Warf area and wanted Dungeness Crab for dinner. We searched Google for Seafood restaurants in San Francisco and the Franciscan Crab Restaurant was one of the choices. They advertised " Lotsa Crab - 3# - two or more share for $ 49.95. We walked to the restaurant at 6pm. The menu posted outside stated the same price. We walked up the stairs to the second level and the hostess greeted us and promptly seated us at a table with a great view of the bay. The descriptive menu was presented with the choices for the evening. We ordered a bottle House Chardonnay, House Salad, Lotsa Crab, and Rosemary-Roasted Baby Heirloom Potatoes. The Food and Service exceeded expectations. The Garlic Dungeness Crabs are not to be missed. The service by the waiter and the bus staff was impeccable. This was a great experience that will always be remembered when we reminisce about our travels to San Francisco. Don’t leave without eating the homemade Frozen Custard for Dessert." - Top 10 restaurants in the country to take your man to! "This one is for seafood lovers. If you like oysters, crab, seafood antipasti, mussels ... this restaurant is the right choice for you. Sea bass is also a must try."

Nation's Restaurant News - "OpenTable users rate the top 50 restaurants with scenic views." Click here for entire article

Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle - "Six of a kind: Restaurants with a view." Click here for entire article

The Travelling Adventurer - "We could not leave San Francisco without trying at least one seafood restaurant, so we ventured down to the Fisherman’s Wharf docks area and landed at the Franciscan Restaurant. And what a delight it was."

Northside Review

Northside Review page 2

Inter City Express article

Splash Magazin Review

About Town Review

Northside Review

Explore Article

San Francisco Downtown Magazine CoverSan Francisco Downtown Magazine Review

The City Star -

The Franciscan Turns 50 Story

ToDo Review

The Examiner Review

Customer email
- "First off I want to tell you that my wife just returned from visiting her daughters and all she could do was to rave about the dining experience she had at your restaurant. She was met by other attorneys from her office down here in the Orange County area and they had the time of their lives. I look forward to being back at your restaurant after the first. I have a lot of appreciation for restaurants like yours that can maintain quality as well as great customer service. Thank you."

Yelp! review by Nish - "I'm really surprised by some of these very negative reviews, but maybe they are just out of date, given the fact that The Franciscan just underwent a large remodel. Given that the restaurant is smack dab in Fisherman's Wharf, you're certainly going to get a touristy clientele. But don't let that dissuade you, since you'll be missing out on a great view, old yet updated San Francisco charm, and surprisingly tasty food. Parking is a cinch - they validate for up to 3 hours for nearby restaurants, and walking up to the restaurant is impressive enough - there is a sense of history here, neon sign and all. It's a large space inside, bustling when we went in on a Sunday evening. If you can, request one of the curved booths, great for four people, yet intimate enough for two. Food options are decided seafood-oriented, but there are some hearty beef options as well. This is not a place for vegetarians, nor does it need to try to be. We started with the burrata, a house-made creamy mozzarella, drizzled in olive oil, that was literally like a spread it was so soft. A nice complement is an assortment of meats: prosciutto, coppa, mortadella, salame, all imported from Italy no less. You can choose all four, which is what we did. For a middle course, we went with the crab & smoked salmon crostinis, which were a nice spin on a regular appetizer. For entrees, you can order all kinds of fresh fish and pair it with a favorite sauce or cooking style, and the servings are large. We actually opted to go with the iron skillet roasted mussels & crab, which honestly I don't remember having crab more delicious. Piping hot, seasoned just right, and with a bib to catch any of the excess glorious mess, we were in seafood heaven. Our waiter Tom was great as well, very friendly, checking in on us at just the right occasions, and that only added to the experience. We also tried a few different glasses of wine with each course, and these also complimented the varied dishes quite nicely (Tom was there to offer suggestions as well). For dessert, and trust me you want to leave room somehow, make sure you to get their fresh made frozen "kustard" which is simply outstanding. Reminded me of Coney Island or something. For a special occasion, or when the parents are in town, I'll be sure to return to the Franciscan. It's definitely a little pricey, but as with many good things in life, it's worth it."

Concierge SF Hotel - "I really enjoyed it. Great job on the interior, food, service - everything. A top-notch restaurant! The Wharf's been waiting for this. We will definitely send our guests to the Franciscan."

Gayot Review

The host of a party of 16 wrote - "Last night's choice was unanimously spectacular. Thanks again."

Sally's Place - "High ceilings and twenty foot windows, offer unforgettable views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz and more. Built in the late 1950's, the Franciscan restaurant has been a long standing part of the Fisherman's Wharf landscape for seafood dining. New owners have taken over and updated both the look and menu to make it more reflective of today’s San Francisco style for a wider variety of tastes.

Raw bar crabs and oysters are complemented by Italian style fish carpaccio and antipasti. Classic garlic steamed clams and cioppino are joined by creative entrees including Olive Oil Seared Local Petrale with braised greens & pasta, Prosciutto Wrapped Sturgeon, Black Cod sautéed in a seaweed soy ginger glaze and Salt Roasted Giant Prawns. Surf and turf for a new age offers multi sized combos of Half Order Crab or Tiger Prawns with 100% Midwestern Corn Fed Prime Rib."