Last week I rode one of the classic streetcars down Market Street and around the Embarcadero to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was a festive trip, as it usually is. Visitors were holding on to the leather straps studying the Muni transfers given to them by the driver in exchange for two dollars; looking up, occasionally, to take in the sights as we rolled down the street; and consulting with their travel mates as to the best place to disembark.
San Francisco’s waterfront offers endless possibilities: shopping for picnic supplies at the Ferry Building, taking photos of the resident sea lions at Pier 39, or savoring a crab cocktail at the wharf.
What the visitors probably don’t realize, just as I didn’t for a long time, is that the crabs on display today are not local crabs. A vendor confirmed, when I asked at one of the many seafood stands lined up along the wharf, that commercial Dungeness crab season will open on November 15th. It runs through June, although most of the crabs (only males over 5 3/4″) are caught by the end of December. Crab season along the Pacific Coast from central California up to Alaska is staggered throughout the year so there never seems to be a shortage of crab cocktail at the wharf.
If you order a one of the little cardboard containers filled with the sweet seafood doused in cocktail sauce to eat while you enjoy a walk along the piers, be on the lookout for these bad boys.
If one of them snatches your lunch out of your hand, you won’t get a refund or any sympathy.