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Classic San Francisco Food Treats


Last week I had the pleasure of experiencing some real classic San Francisco food treats. I had some global team meetings for work with a colleague visiting from London. Always a good time to be a food tourist!

One place that I have wanted to try for a very long time, so close to my office so no excuse, is AK Subs. There is nothing fancy about this place, but they are raved about in review after review for their subs. Their pastrami sandwich in particular. So when we decided to order in sandwiches for a working lunch I could hardly resist suggesting trying out this place!

I was not disappointed. Look at this warm pastrami sandwich tripping with cheese on sourdough (hey, it's San Francisco). It was not greasy, I ate the entire thing and did not suffer for it.

AK Subs Pastrami Sandwich_Classic-San-Francisco-Food-Treats

The very same night it was onto another San Francisco classic, this time cioppino. And there is no better place to get it than one of the city's oldest restaurants, Tadich Grill. Opened in 1849, this Financial District restaurant has a style of its own. A cross between Mad Men, an English Pub and a French brasserie, it has a real character. It also has a massive menu. A few too many choices if you ask me!

But if you can only have one thing, it must be the cioppino, a fish stew that originated right here in the city by the bay. Especially in the winter when it is Dungeness crab season! Full of scallops, shrimp, white fish and crab it is incredibly fresh. It is served with garlicky sourdough bread (again, it's San Francisco!) for sopping up the delicious broth. One word of caution. If you eat an appetizer you won't be able to finish your cioppino. If you eat your cioppino, there will be no room for dessert. This is not a small portion!


Cioppino - Tadich Grill
Photo credit: Leslie Wong

The next day in the pouring rain I headed to The Waterbar for a team lunch. I had my mind set on their lobster roll and some oysters. Unfortunately, they weren't serving their yummy sandwich served with fried pickles, not because they were out of lobster, but because they had not baked the special bread that makes it an authentic New England-style version. No worries, I managed to find something else to try!

First came oysters. Then for my entree, I chose the grilled tuna sandwich served with sweet potato chips. One of the unique things about The Waterbar is that they list the boat that caught the fish and sometimes even the captain's name. My photo of part of the menu is a little fuzzy, but my tuna was “hook and lined caught on the “VAK 2” outside of Honolulu, Hawaii.” That is fresh!

The sandwich was yummy albeit messy due to the layered on kimchee slaw, I actually ended up eating it with a knife and fork!

The restaurant has a lovely view of the Bay Bridge which is really gorgeous on sunny days. On rainy days there is a tendency to be fog. But, let's face it, that is the view you are going to get most of the time during Feb-April in San Francisco! September-October is the best time come to the city.

There are so many food possibilities in San Francisco, it really is amazing. And like most things you don’t appreciate it as much as you should when it is right in front of your face. When Mr. Misadventures and I moved away from the Bay Area to France we realized how much we didn’t take advantage of this fabulous city.

When we moved back we vowed to do a better job of partaking of all that it had to offer, especially its food. We have made progress but still, have a ways to go.

There is one area in particular where we have made no progress and that is eating at French restaurants. It's a shame because as I mentioned in my interview in Lindsey of Lost in Cheeseland's Franco File Friday interview, in the 1870s there were more Frenchman in San Francisco than in other cities in the U.S. with the exception of New Orleans. The French greatly impacted the food culture here in its bread, its coffee, its wine, its cheese. There are a ton of wonderfully rated French restaurants here.

There is just one problem. I've never been to any.

That's because Mr. Misadventures refuses to eat in any of them because he does not want to be bitterly disappointed. Apparently, before the time we were Mr. and Mrs. Misadventures (a long time ago!) he had tried some French restaurants and they never lived up to his expectations, thus he had banned them from his palette of food options.

I on the other hand I want desperately to try them.

So being the conniving resourceful blogger that I am, I came up with a plan and a project to change that. And so I announce “He said, She said.”  A new series in which Mr. Misadventures and I eat at a French restaurant every month and provide our opinions for the world (okay, you guys) to know.

Back to San Francisco.

What about you? Have any suggestions for San Fran food classics that should not be missed?

More of my San Francisco food stories and guides:

Highlighted Restaurants in San Francisco

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Classic San Francisco Food Treats

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  1. Camels & Chocolate says:

    Oooh Scott and I ate at Waterbar recently; it was divine!

    You should add Chez Papa Resto to your list of French restaurants here to try. Also, Absinthe and Foreign Cinema. (Have you really never been to either of the latter???)

    1. @Kristin, unbelievably, no! I want to try brunch at Foreign Cinema!

  2. Fun new series! I was going to say, he should at least try ONE before he assumes he’ll be disappointed everytime!

    1. @Lindsey, he says he did long time ago, and has written them off, happily he has agreed to my project.

  3. Ohhhhh how you made me miss SF! Buying my tix for summer trip now. Can’t wait. You already know I love Plouf. Also, Chez Jacqueline’s in North Beach is good – but fairly pricey for souffleés. I hope it’s still in business, the owner seemed to be nearing retirement when I went. She’s from Bordeaux, like my husband so they chatted a bit. Also, Chez Spencer is good. My friend French girlfriend Isabelle designed/built the front gate (it’s her cousin’s restaurant). I just googled Jeanty at Jack’s at realized it’s closed. Funny, when I was in SF it was one of my favorites. Loved it! After living in Paris we went back and I found it only so-so. I figured my tastebuds had changed. I was disappointed. So I see why Mr. Misadventures might be hesitant to eat French in the US.

    1. @Amy, oh! You just joggled my brain! I have been to Plouf and Chez Spencer, but they have been for business without Mr. Misadventures.

  4. Lady Jennie says:

    First of all, I’m sending this link to my sister and German brother in law. Second of all, I would think after all this time that elle dit and lui dit would be pretty close, non?

  5. I love this! I picked up every. single. sourdough reference. Ha! My friends kid me about my love for it, and I respond that, hello – I am from the SF Bay Area, 4 generations, if sourdough is an option there is NO CHOICE 🙂

    I haven’t been to a single French restaurant since coming back from my semester in Paris (and that was 3 years ago now! sad!)…just don’t want to be disappointed, I guess 🙂 Although, I could really care less about “meal” meals – it’s the pastry I worry about. I have yet to find a baguette that feels just right 🙂

    1. @Amanda, so you understand about the French resto dilemma! My parents grew up in the Bay Area, but when I was a kid we moved around and my Mom would yearn for sourdough bread!