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San Francisco

How early is early at Swan Oyster Depot? Wanting to avoid a long wait!

My husband and I are taking a trip to San Francisco in April for my 30th birthday and we really want to try Swan Oyster Depot. We plan to go on a Friday morning. Anyone know what time to show up in order to bypass an extremely long wait? Thanks in advance!

8 Answers

top answer by
Krista from San Francisco

Hi Jenny,

+1 to all of John's points plus a tip for you: I highly recommend hiring a TaskRabbit ( to wait in line for you - this is a trick I've used at well known restaurants like Swan Oyster Depot and State Bird Provisions, and it will buy you and your husband more comfortable time, waiting to get in.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Swan Oyster Depot (restaurant)
  2. State Bird Provisions (restaurant)
5 thanks

answered first by
John from Carlsbad (California)

Early Happy Birthday!  Swan Oyster Depot opens at 10:30 a.m. daily except Sunday.  It's cash only.  The line can start an hour ahead of opening, especially on weekends, but you can meet interesting people waiting in line.  You can avoid the line by getting a take-out order, but there isn't anyplace really close to eat take-out and you lose the "atmosphere" of the place with take-out.  Lafayette Park is only a few blocks away, but it's uphill, and you aren't supposed to have alcohol or glass containers in the park, but there are some nice views and tables there.You might also want to take a look at Hog Island Oyster Co., Inc if you are looking for more oysters.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Swan Oyster Depot (restaurant)
  2. Lafayette Park (attraction)
  3. Hog Island Oyster Co., Inc (restaurant)
3 thanks

answered by
Janet from Emerald Hills, Ca

you have a few options:

1) go early: 11 am for lunch.

2) go for an early dinner: 3:30-4pm

3) go any time you want and get an order to go. Pass the line, go to the register and order to go. Take you treasures to your car for a car picnic, or drive to a zillion wonderful spots (golden gate park, presidio, marina green, Ft Mason, square in North Beach to name just a few)

4) get your order to go and hop on the California cable car and go to the Ferry Building Marketplace; sit outside next to the bay.

One of my favorite things to do! 


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ferry Building Marketplace (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
lily from San Francisco

10:30 is when they open, and that is the time to avoid the lines! We went last friday and went late afternoon around 2pm, and waited for 1-1.5 hours :( They also do take out orders if you want to bypass the lines.

1 thanks

answered by
Janice from San Francisco

Call ahead and get your order to go. Mention it's your birthday and they'll possibly run you through the entire menu over the phone if you're unsure of your order.  Some of the tartare and carpaccio dishes are fabulous as well.  No need to queue. When you arrive - mention you called ahead - you skip the line as the order has been made over the phone. They're kind and accommodating (makes you wonder why more people don't do that, unless they enjoy the hours standing in line). Then, as per John's comments, head to Lafayette or another park nearby and enjoy your food & some bubbly.

1 thanks

answered by
Sara from Oakland

11:30 a.m. at the latest

(source: my husband used to work there)

answered by
Ivan from Sosnovyy Bor, Leningradskaya Oblast', Russia

early in the morning 8-9am

answered by
Paul from Nevada City

I would get there before 11:30 am. The earlier, the better. But street parking is challenging, so give yourself another 20-30 minutes to park and get in line.

The line moves surprisingly fast at times. If you're the 10th person in line, you might wait just 15-20 minutes.

Remember, it's cash only. The staff is friendly, but you can make them happier if you don't dawdle on ordering stuff. Have your 1st, 2nd and 3rd orders in mind before you go, or while you're eating. BTW, the house wines are good and a good value. Getting that saves time on figuring out other choices. Finally, figure to spend close (or over) $100, including tip. All that yummy stuff adds up!

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