Tadich Grill, a San Francisco treat

by foodhoe on October 24, 2010

240 California Street, SF, CA  | 415.391.1849 | website | mon – fri 11am – 9:30 pm; sat 11:30 – 9:30

The Tadich Grill is a local treasure that captures the history, ambiance, and flavors of old San Francisco. It’s California’s oldest restaurant, operating in the financial district since 1849 and there’s nothing trendy about the place, which is known for its straightforward seafood dishes and Barbary Coast atmosphere.  As far as landmarks go, the Tadich Grill is older than Coit Tower or even the Golden Gate Bridge!  The waiters all have on white linen jackets that look a bit like lab coats, but they go with the wainscotting, and wood-paneled booths, representing an old-school San Francisco dining experience.

Crossing the threshold feels like you’ve been transported to another era, what I imagine a men’s club would be like with dark polished wood, shining brass fixtures and private booths. There’s room to breath with dining areas separated by partitions, hooks and places to hang your coat and purse, the conveniences of a distant past.

The dark booths are accented by the crisp white tablecloths and linen napkins and each table is equipped with a bowl full of  lemon wedges and a plate full of crusty Boudin sourdough bread slices with tinfoil wrapped butter.  It has a delightful crust, with a soft tender interior full of airy pockets that are perfect to fill with butter.

The menu features hearty seafood and other local specialties, and the Tadich claims to be the first establishment to grill seafood over mesquite charcoal in the 1920s.  In 1998, it was awarded the James Beard Foundation American Classic restaurant award, which honors legendary family-owned restaurants across the country.

I recently came here twice with some friends, and had to order the Seafood Cioppino ($26.25) which is a house specialty. Cioppino is a classic San Francisco dish that is believed to have been invented by the fishermen in North Beach in the late 1800s, a fish stew that’s the equivalent of the French bouillabaisse or the Italian Cacciucco.  It’s a luxurious stew made with generous chunks of crabmeat and fish, prawns, meaty scallops, clams and mussels in a tomato based broth that is the definition of comfort. The clams are steamed separately and the fish sauteed with butter and olive oil for each serving before being combined with the hot soup and the prawns and crab are shelled to make the dining experience less messy.  The cioppino is served with delectable slices of toasted sourdough bread that has been brushed with olive oil and garlic and lightly grilled.

Debbie N had this gorgeous looking Seafood Saute ($26)   a generous pile of scallops, prawns and dungeness crabmeat sauteed with white wine and mushrooms served with rice and vegetable of the day (I just love that old style verbage)!

Both times Libby had the Mesquite Broiled Pacific King Salmon Filet ($25.75) long branch potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, zucchini and carrots  and tartar sauce.  I have never heard of long branch potatoes and these were basically steak cut fries.  I wonder if that is a type of potato or descriptive of their shape…

The Panfried Calamari Steak ($20.75) was breaded and fried and served with long branch potatoes, vegetable of the day and a rich, zesty tartar sauce full of chopped pickles. The calamari was perfect slathered with tartar with a squeeze of lemon to brighten things up.

Debbie N couldn’t resist the mesquite broiled Ribeye Steak ($23), served with roasted garlic garnish, potato and vegetable of the day.

And I had to have the Chocolate Mousse ($8.25), after hearing my friends Cody and Brennan rave about it for so many years. It was rich and decadent, the perfect thing to split among friends.

The Tadich is known for a stiff drink, great atmosphere, and if you have a hankering for an old fashioned San Francisco dining experience, there’s nowhere better.

Tadich Grill on Urbanspoon

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