During the 1800s, the commercial fishing industry in coastal California took off, just preceding the gold rush and kicking off the history of Dungeness crab. In 1870 the California Fish Commission was created to protect fish in the Pacific waters of the State.

In the beginning of the Dungeness crab history, it was considered a pest, which damaged fishing nets, and were often thrown back into the sea or discarded on the sandy shore! However, with the introduction of more efficient fishing equipment and faster fishing vessels (with gasoline engines) the quality and potential commercial value of the Dungeness crab in San Francisco began to emerge and became a pivotal part of San Francisco restaurant history.

The fine culinary skills of Italian fishermen along the West coast could be seen in their homes with the catch of delicious seafood being served to family members. They soon realized the commercial potential of their skills and set up cauldrons of boiling water to cook their freshly caught crabs publicly as a new way to make money. These were served in paper cups and enjoyed by locals and visitors alike, marking the beginning of the rich and fascinating Dungeness crab natural history.

Today, the Dungeness crab can be savored in our very own Pier Market: the best crab restaurant in San Francisco.


Dungeness Crab in San Francisco


Pier Market – Dungeness Crab

When the local Dungeness Crab season begins, usually in November, our staff are like excited kids at Christmas! The season opens with all kinds of speculation as to how the crab year will be and fortunately, we are usually lucky enough that the annual harvest of Dungeness crab in San Francisco doesn’t let us down.

At Pier Market, we only source fish that is 100% sustainable and doesn’t harm the ocean wildlife. When Fall arrives, we cannot wait to share the best Dungeness crab San Francisco has on offer with our hungry customers. We pride ourselves on the freshness and high-quality of our locally sourced San Francisco crab.

Compromising on quality or on freshness is not an option for us: a testimony to this can be found in our many prestigious awards including “Diners’ Choice Award”, Trip Advisor’s “Certificate of Excellence” and “Best Seafood in San Francisco” Kron4 award. Our customers have written many complimentary reviews on social media about our Dungeness crab in San Francisco recipes.

Treat yourself

There are so many options for Dungeness crab in San Francisco. Our varied, award-winning menu sets us apart from the rest, with a long list of traditional and modern variations of all your favorite seafood dishes.

Feeling a little hungry? Try one of our amazing starters: our Crab Cakes with a Cajun remoulade will set your taste buds on fire! Or keep it simple and let the freshness of our San Francisco crab shine with a delicious steamed or chilled ½ Dungeness crab.

If you’re feeling famished, treat yourself to an exquisite feast: the large Garlic Roasted Whole Dungeness crab is just the thing you need. Served with rice or garlic buttered potatoes, this is a true treat because you’re worth it!

When is Dungeness crab season?

For San Franciscans, and the many tourists who flock to the city, eating Dungeness crab is something of a seasonal tradition. Finding the best crab in San Francisco is easy if you know when to look for them.

The season is determined by the life cycle of the crab and their migratory patterns. The Dungeness crab mates from February through to June in shallow, protected waters. Generally speaking, the season for fishing Dungeness crab begins just before Thanksgiving. The season technically runs until June or July, but the biggest and best crabs are often caught by December, making the time between fall and winter prime times to enjoy the best crab San Francisco has on offer.

Dungeness crab

A Window into our Kitchen

Pier Market, an associate of the California Green Business Network, is a Pier 39 restaurant that’s been around since 1983. With superlative compliments from customer reviews on social media platforms and many prestigious awards, it’s not hard to see why Pier Market is one of the top San Francisco crab restaurants around and has been throughout the history of Pier 39. The Simmons family has been selling the best seafood and crab San Francisco has to offer for three generations, and we’re not going anywhere any time soon!

We like to showcase our 100% sustainable practices, and we also love being able to show our guests how our top chefs work their magic to prepare our award-winning dishes, building on the rich history of Dungeness crab. That’s why we keep our kitchen open and in plain view of the dining room, allowing you a sneak peek into the hustle and bustle of what a productive and creative kitchen is all about.

Our chefs have been using the mesquite grilling technique for over 35 years. This unique and woodsy method lends a smoky depth of flavor to our seafood, in fact, it may just be our Pier Market secret to serving the best Dungeness crab in San Francisco. Watch our chefs use their culinary and artistic skills to produce mouth-watering seafood dishes that will blow your taste buds away and help you experience the history of Dungeness crab dishes!