Historic Swan Oyster Depot—the city’s most popular raw and seafood bar—opened in its current building in 1912, and little has changed since. Pull on a long, brass, fish-shaped door handle, step across the cracked mosaic floor, slide into one of the 18 barstools in the narrow room that has just enough space to accommodate the seats and bar, and get whisked back in time. There’s no website, no computer system, no reservations on Open Table. You won’t find over-the-top haute cuisine here, either. The winning recipe for as long as anyone can remember is beautifully simple: wonderfully fresh and barely adulterated seafood by a friendly member of the Sancimino Family—owners since 1946—at a worn, marble counter along with paper napkins to wipe the crab juice off your mug. Recipes are simple—think steamed, raw or fried seafood, the terrific cocktail sauce house-made, the prices very reasonable, and the service gruffly charming. Eating here is a fun, old-timey experience—and needs to be as there’s usually an hour wait to get in! If you’re starving and tired of waiting, you can call in a take-out order while standing in in line. Only cash and local checks accepted.
- Erika Lennert