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Jan 29, 2006 03:25 PM

Oldest restaurants in San Francisco

  • r

Responding to an off-topic post on the SF Bay Area board:

I believe the oldest restaurant in San Francisco is either Tadich Grill or John's Grill, depending on your criteria.

John's Grill: same location since it opened in 1908.

Tadich Grill: opened in 1849, making it the oldest continuously operating restaurant in San Francisco, but it's been in its current location only since 1967. They brought a lot of the furnishings over from the location they'd been in since 1922, and tried to keep the same style, so it feels very old.

Runners-up etc.:

Sam's Grill: started on California Street in 1867, current location since 1946.

Fior d'Italia: started on Broadway in 1886, was on Union Stret from 1953 until last year, recently reopened in the venerable San Remo Hotel.

Alfred's Steak House: opened in 1928, moved to current location (formerly the venerable Blue Fox) in 1997.

Tommaso's (formerly Lupo's): same location since it opened in 1935.

Original Joe's: same location since it opened in 1937.

Jeanty at Jack's is a makeover of the venerable Jack's (same location since 1864).

I've heard the Old Clam House was a stagecoach stop in the 1800s. I wouldn't eat there again myself.

The current Fly Trap is not old, it's named after but otherwise has no connection with the venerable place that closed in 1963.

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  1. Hasn't Swan Oyster Depot been there since like 1912 or something? Or did they switch locations too?

    1. I just looked up Swan in Zagat and realized why 1912 was stuck in my mind: "circa 1912 counter." Sorry!

      7 Replies
      1. re: CH Addict

        argh! The Economist says 1946, Frommer's: 1912. Which is it?


        1. re: CH Addict

          These headers sound like dishes at Cafe Gratitude!

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            Cafe Attitude, baby! Cafe Attitude, my new scheme.

            But seriously, what is the date for Swan Oyster Depot? Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?

            1. re: CH Addict
              the tablehopper

              I just finished researching the Swan for my article in Where magazine: the answer is 1912! The Sancimino family bought the business in 1946.


              1. re: the tablehopper

                Thanks Robert and Tablehopper, especially for the link. Now I can shoot that article when I recommend the place.

        2. re: CH Addict
          Robert Lauriston

          Lots of sources say 1912, so that belongs on the list, too.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Thanks, Robert! I'm guessing same location?

        3. Sam Woh has claimed to be 100 years old on its menu for 4 or 5 years now, and it certainly looks the part. It's likely to have been at its current location since the '06 quake, if not earlier, and may have John's Grill beaten.

          Hang Ah Tea Room has been in its original location since the 20's, I believe, and should be on your runners-up list.


          1. Eagle Cafe has been in business since 1928.

            1. What's wth the sign on the White Horse Tavern on Sutter near
              Powell, "Since 1741" ???

              I laugh at that one every time I see it. The little Ohlone brewpub?


              1 Reply
              1. re: Jef

                Runner-ups. Schroeder's Cafe opened in 1893. It served lunch to men only. It wasn't until 1935 did it allow women in (but only after 1:30). The Cliff House has been open since the 1860's, if one does't disqualify it for two gutting fires. If the Garden Court of the Palace Hotel hadn't changed its name in 1942 from the Palm Court you could date the restaurant back to 1909. The Buena Vista Cafe opened in 1901.