When you think “traditional San Francisco” the first thing that pops into the minds of locals is the Tadich Grill. An icon of city cuisine for Barbary coast more than 160 years, this restaurant had its roots in the historic Barbary Coast and Gold Rush movements, long before landfill broadened the financial district’s reach to the Ferry Building.
But what’s amazing about the place is that it still serves up the kind of delicious, stick-to-your-bones seafood meals that you’d want after blowing in off a crisp north wind, having just jumped off a steamer.
It’s old school, in the best sense of the phrase. The bar is old hardwood, the floors are 1900’s tile, and the tables—clad with white tablecloths with big chunks of Boudine’s sourdough bread plopped upon them—are packed in along the dark-paneled booths that line the whole west wall. The bar is long and perfectly suitable for eating as well as drinking, and the martinis are dry and perfect for a blustery evening.
The place takes no reservations and the restaurant gets busy most nights—which means you could be bumping up against notable sorts as you wait your turn for a table—so grab a drink while you wait and take in the scene.
Tadich Grill made its name on seafood, and still its most provocative dishes hold the tradition. Crab and prawns a la Monza is a casserole of rice, creamy pink sauce, seafood, spices and cheese baked au gratin—and its absolutely a must-have dish. Sand dabs—which are hard to find with any regularity on any seafood menu—are pan-friend and lightly seasoned to a melt-in-your-mouth perfection. Seafood cocktails are just what you would expect—the freshness of the catch so bright in your mouth that you can taste the ocean it was just pulled from. Cioppino, Petrale sole, scallop saute, salmon and bay shrimp creole, each on their own right, will make you feel cared for and nourished with their delectable flavors. This is seafood-comfort-food at its height: a crusty sourdough, a crisp martini, a warm and pungent plate of fish or shrimp or scallops, served up just right, and you’re smiling from ear to ear, and filled with the delights of living.
That’s the Tadich Grill. Don’t wait—just go. You’ll be thrilled that you did.