Tadich Grill has had several owners but has continuously been opened since 1849.

Tadich Grill has had several owners but has continuously been opened since 1849.

One can’t go back in time, but sometimes certain things in life make you feel like you can.

A scent or a song can bring back memories, making one feel transported to that moment when one first experienced it. Or a certain scene can make you feel you’re living in that era even when you’ve never been there.

That’s the feeling one gets when you step through the doors of Tadich Grill, the San Francisco restaurant that traces its roots back to the Gold Rush. It’s considered the oldest restaurant in the city, possibly the oldest in the state.

Summertime Lunch
This summer, I had some time off and I decided to go to Tadich Grill for lunch for the first time. The old wooden booths and servers dressed in white coats set the tone right away. And the restaurant’s popularity has stood the test of time because it’s still a stop for tourists but also for Financial District workers who line up at the counter for a hearty lunch, dutifully filling each seat one after the other as they arrive until the entire counter is filled with diners stretching to the back.

The booths at the restaurant provide cozy spots for meals.

The booths at the restaurant provide cozy spots for meals.

I didn’t plan on it, but just sitting in the restaurant made me have to order a martini with olives for lunch. And then I ordered the classic Seafood Cioppino with garlic bread ($32.50), an amazing plate of the freshest seafood cooked to perfection, all sitting in a clean tomato-based broth. There were samplings of clams, mussels, prawns, scallops, shrimp, crab meat and white fish, whose juices all combined for a taste of the sea, which I selfishly sopped up with the lightly toasted garlic bread.

I finished my lunch off with the triple chocolate mousse ($9.25), which was a rich and perfectly layered mousse cake.

Tadich Grill doesn’t look anywhere the 165 years, but seem fresh and vibrant like any newcomer in the city. But don’t take it for granted that it’ll always be around, make a point of dining here to taste the cioppino and the history of San Francisco.

The deets: Tadich Grill, 240 California St., San Francisco. PH: 415.391.1849. Open weekdays, 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Closed Sunday. No reservations. Major credit cards accepted. www.tadichgrill.com

Note: I didn’t rate the restaurant on my typical scale because how can you rate an institution?

Sitting in the restaurant, one is almost compelled to order a martini.

Sitting in the restaurant, one is almost compelled to order a martini.

The classic Seafood Cioppino ($32.50) with fresh ingredients

The classic Seafood Cioppino ($32.50) with fresh ingredients

Servers dress for the era with white coats and black ties.

Servers dress for the era with white coats and black ties.

Triple chocolate mousse ($9.25) is a decadent way to end a meal.

Triple chocolate mousse ($9.25) is a decadent way to end a meal.

Some restaurants get tired and stale as they age, but not the classic Tadich Grill, which continues to impress with solid food and service.

Some restaurants get tired and stale as they age, but not the classic Tadich Grill, which continues to impress with solid food and service.

 

2 Responses to Power Lunching at Tadich Grill — the Oldest Restaurant in San Francisco

  1. Anne says:

    I love the Tadich Grill. We go for lunch and get there when it opens. The sourdough bread is fantastic, and so is the tartar sauce. I usually get the sand dabs which are wonderful, but sometimes I get a crab or shrimp Louis. The waiters are really nice. It’s one of my favorite restaurants, and if I lived closer, I’d go more often. So glad you went!

  2. Carolyn Jung says:

    It truly is a classic. It’s a taste of old-school, oh-so civilized San Francisco — which you can’t find many places anymore. 😉