Raw seafood and beer star at Bar Crudo

Beer lovers love happy hours, and some of the beer bars in San Francisco offer some great bargains. Toronado, of course, has $1 off draft beers from opening until 6 p.m. At Lucky 13 in San Francisco, you can drink fresh Pliny the Elder, Dogfish Head 90, Deschutes Black Butte Porter, Anchor Liberty and many more for $3 a pint from opening until 8:30 p.m. Most other beer bars offer some variation of a happy hour from around 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. or so. (Don’t forget to tip $1 per beer.)
But one of the best happy hours in the city isn’t even at a beer bar; it’s at Bar Crudo on Divisadero. Bar Crudo’s selection of some four-dozen bottled beers, along with a handful of well-chosen taps, would put many so-called beer bars to shame. But what sets Bar Crudo apart is its happy hour food. Usually, happy hour in a bar means a few munchies, Buffalo wings, or something deep-fried and virtually unrecognizable. At Bar Crudo, a lot of the food never goes near a flame, let alone a deep fryer. Bar Crudo, as its name implies, specializes in raw dishes, mostly seafood -- six types of fresh oysters; five types of clams; and small plates of raw arctic char, butterfish, Tomba tuna, Hokkaido scallops, spicy yellowfin tuna and Hawaiian ono -- as well as steak crudo and several other “cold” preparations. You can also order cooked seafood, as well as delicious seafood chowder, brimming with large chunks of fish, and fish tacos ($5 at happy hour).

While other restaurants conceal frozen fish under deep frying batter or buttery sauces, at Bar Crudo there’s no place to hide. Preparation is subtle and minimal, allowing the fish to be the star of the show.
The lineup of five draft beers matches well with the food: Moonlight Brewing Reality Czech ($3 a pint during a happy hour recently), Allagash White Belgian-style wit beer (which adds some spritzy, subtly lemony zest to the oysters and raw seafood), Firestone Walker Solace, Russian River IPA and the 30th anniversary stout from Sierra Nevada and Anchor Brewing. (When you see Russian River and Moonlight on tap, it’s a good sign; those brewers, who distribute their kegs themselves from Santa Rosa, love showcasing their beer with great food, and they’re very selective.)
The extensive list of nearly 50 bottles is also carefully crafted to complement the fresh seafood, from Hitachino Nest White Ale and Bavik Pils to Ommegang Ale, Gouden Carolus and Duchesse de Bourgogne Flanders red ale (for those with a sour tooth). Wines are well-matched as well, with some sparklers like German Gilabert Cava Brut and whites and reds from France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Chile, Argentina and Napa.
Bar Crudo moved to what is now known as NOPA (north of the Panhandle) last year from its original location above the Stockton Street tunnel. The highlight of the new restaurant is clearly the fish itself, along with the people who deftly prepare it. There aren’t any TVs, but that’s OK when you can watch gifted chefs work their magic live and in real time.
Bar Crudo is taking California cuisine to a new level, showing the culinary world what can be accomplished with simple, fresh ingredients matched with great beer like Allagash White and Moonlight Reality Czech poured fresh from a tap. The overall experience is sublime, and when you can have half a dozen fresh oysters, a delicious cup of fish chowder or fish tacos and two excellent pilsners for less than $20, it’s almost irresistible.
Bar Crudo
655 Divisadero St
(between Hayes St & Grove St)
San Francisco, CA 94117
Neighborhood: Western Addition/NOPA
(415) 409-0679

5 to 11pm
5 to 10pm

Happy Hour
Tuesday to Sunday
5pm to 6:30pm
Select $1 Oysters
Chowder $5
Fish tacos $5
Beer and wine specials

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