CLOSED: Joe's Crab Shack (San Francisco)

Joe's Crab Shack

With its prominent tourist location and bright signage, I wasn’t expecting superb seafood at Joe's Crab Shack. Being a cold evening, we wandered into the restaurant to escape the wind … before researching the establishment. After being seated, it seemed rude to leave so we stuck it out despite the restaurant’s 2.5 star rating on Yelp and 3.5 stars everywhere else.

The cup of clam chowder ($3.99) was lukewarm, a big pet peeve of mine, mostly filled with potatoes than clams. You’re better off ordering the bowl ($7.29) and sharing. Since they add bacon bits and small clams into the mix, the soup is cooked again and my friend’s bowl arrived piping hot.

Since most reviews warned against Joe’s steam pots, my friend and I opted to split the Dungeness crab bucket ($37.49) instead. The crab itself was decent, seemingly fresh and not overdone; the Old Bay seasoning used in the “Chesapeake style” option complimented the crab well giving it a salty seasoning without being too strong.

Yet, its shrunken size amongst a large pot was disappointing, especially when compared to our friends’ voluminous orders of steam pot and assorted crab legs. Unlike what most reviews proclaim, not everything is good for sharing, the Dungeness crab being one, since I could have had the whole dish to myself.

Each entrée is accompanied with French fries & hush puppies or an ear corn & baby potatoes. Despite not regularly eating hush puppies, I’d imagine they shouldn’t arrive cold and the texture of stale Timbits (doughnut holes for Americans). The fries were only a step better, at least warm, but lacked seasoning so I had to resort to dipping them in the crab juices.

In the end, I kept my expectations low. After all, it’s a chain restaurant and the menu has pictures on it. All in all, at least the seafood was fresh and cooked nicely. But, if sharing, I’d stick to the larger steam pots, because a few crab legs isn’t nearly satisfying enough.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: San Francisco, USA
 Address: 245 Jefferson Street

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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