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Is Tadich Grill worth the trip?

Going to be in town for a couple of days and thought about a late lunch/early dinner next Tuesday. Is that a good time to miss the crowds? I've read the reviews elsewhere and it varies. I know it can be "touristy", but I don't mind if the food is good and the experience is worth the plunge. Hoping rworange, Lauriston and other locals weigh in on this.

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    1. re: hhc

      I have eaten there several times, and I am always disappointed with the menu selection, the bland seafood entrees and the male waiters who take one look at two women dining and automatically expect us to leave a light tip. They consistantly rush us, give us horrible service and as expected, they get a crudy tip.

      -----
      Tadich Grill
      240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

      1. re: MsJulie

        I've only received rude service from one and I think it was the owner.

        I've eaten there many times, with my daughter, with men, with just women and only that one time was not treated well.

    2. I didn't think much of Tadich ... until I learned how to appreciate it through Chowhound.

      One of the single best things ever written on this site ... one of the many things that made me such a fan of Chowhound ... and Tadich ... was this post by Melanie Wong who captured the essence the grill.

      Since people rarely follow links and I'm going to pull out Melanie's post in entirety ..
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/20436...

      Melanie Wong Jul 06, 2002

      Aw, Patrick, I'm very sorry to hear of your disappointing time at Tadich, since I'm the one who sent you there. Coincidentally, I was in the Financial District Wednesday morning and with so many workers taking a long holiday weekend, it was a good time to pop into Tadich for lunch. Good call, as I was able to walk right in and get a seat at the bar, one in from the front cash register. I had cioppino with garlic bread, which attracted the attention of several tourists/first-timers waiting for tables who asked me for recommendations. I imagine I sold at least 4 orders of cioppino! I also pitched my favorites: pan-fried sand dabs, mesquite broiled petrale sole, oysters rockefeller, seafood ala monza, clam chowder, and when in season, dungeness crab louie salad. That's all I've ever eaten here. It's too bad I didn't think to give you the same direction for what to order.

      I hadn't been to Tadich for nearly two years. I still love it and have a few thoughts on what the appeal is. This is a working man's bar, one of the few places left in SF where blue collar workers and bankers have historically intermingled. The suits and regulars have to wait with the rest of the plebes – no reservations. I like the hooks under the bar to hang my purse, I like the dark wood paneling, I like the energy of patrons standing four deep at the bar having a drink.

      It's a union shop with long-time professional waiters who keep up with the high turnover, hustle-bustle setting. I've never thought of the service as bad or rude - to me, it's very efficient, no-nonsense, and brusque. My lunch server swooped in to refill my ice tea two times without my asking, made eye contact with me from further down the counter to see if I was done (not yet) twice, and brought my bill promptly when asked. I felt well-taken care of. When they tell you the wait for a table is 15 minutes or an hour, they're always right.

      The food stays the same and you know what to expect. Tadich isn't trendy. The menu is still printed daily with whatever seafood is freshly caught. The simpler the preparation, the better, and nothing's better than the broiled petrale with Tadich tartar sauce (love that stuff!). After reading Stanley's link about the ban on bottom fishing, I think I'll need to go back soon for a fix of sand dabs and/or petrale. The "Tadich Bake" sourdough bread is always the same kind of sour with a medium-brown chewy crust. I noticed the decidedly non-modern cooking style in the long-stewed and dried herb flavors of the tomato base of my cioppino. [also the crab meat was frozen and dried out - best to wait until in season] I've become accustomed to a fresher, lighter style than this, but hey, this is Tadich, they're not changing, and that's ok with me. Very enjoyable, though, to dunk with the light crispy garlic toast that was buttered, seasoned and griddled on both sides. There's an occasional flight of fancy on the daily menu, but I just ignore it. I'd go next door to Aqua if I wanted something like that.

      It's a great value for the dollar. There aren't many places downtown with white table cloths and real cotton napkins where you can find entrees for less than $14. The chicken dinner at Merritt Bakery in Oakland is 20% more than the half chicken at Tadich! Fishermans Wharf prices are 20-50% or more higher. Of course, if you order the wrong thing and don't like your food, it's no value at all.

      At Tadich the customers still drink like old time San Franciscans. SF has the highest per capita alcohol consumption in the US. Today our numbers are inflated by tourists - it used to be driven by hard-drinking natives! When I first came to the City and started working in the Financial District 18 years ago, the senior partners still kept up the martini(s) at lunch tradition. Looking down the counter on Wednesday, nearly every customer had a glass of beer or wine with lunch. You won't see that in other places. This is a bar with food.

      Tadich has dice cups to shake to decide who picks up the tab. This is a long time San Francisco tradition that seems to be dying out. You don't hear the "ka-thunk" of leather hitting wood any more when you walk past a bar. The website where I clipped the photo has this quote: "If there's no sourdough bread on the table and no dice at the bar, you might as well be in Kansas, Toto", Gil Jacobs, circa 1999.

      What else can I say? The food isn't going to wow you. If you order one of the classics, it will be well-prepared, a solid effort, and not expensive. There are more tourists now and fewer longshoremen, but all are welcome at Tadich Grill for the flavor, sound and look of San Francisco's more colorful past. You can count on that.

      ... Thanks again, Melanie. I've enjoyed my visits to Tadich after that ... and the ciopppino, sand dabs and broiled petrale sole. The oysters rockefeller and seafood ala monza are still on my to-try list.

      From another poster ... Mrs. Smith ... who did a nice job of describing a Tadich experience ...
      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/27204

      Tadich Grill was also demanded, and I went there much more willingly. It's another institution, and I'm usually pleased with their food. We had salads and entree and dessert. Mixed green salad was standard -- I had tomatoes and anchovies -- which was just that -- tomato slices with canned anchovies. Fine but nothing fantastic. The small Caesar was quite good and peppery, but nothing hugely exciting.

      I longed for the comfort of the corned beef hash, but, experiencing vague and irrational fears from watching the news about mad cow, I buckled and got deep-fried oysters and bacon instead. This is a great dish -- so old fashioned and bad-for-you delicious. Good juicy Pacific oysters fried in a delicate and not-too-thick batter. They needed salt and lemon juice and tartar sauce, but together they were great. They folded nubs of thick, not-overly-salty bacon were a wonderful foil. They came with some pretty incogruous slightly greasy green beans -- but you know, I don't go to Tadich for the vegetables. Some long, well-fried, very crispy and brown potato wedges alongside (thick and very light on the inside) provided a surprisingly good foil to the oysters and bacon. I could have been eating this meal in 1910, I know, but that's why you go to Tadich, isn't it?

      Also at our table was the crab a la Monza (a favorite, and everything it should be) and a large, thick, New York steak that was "not as good as Harris's, but pretty darn good for a fish restaurant" according to our companion.

      Dessert was a foot-stompingly good Gianduja Chocolate Mousse (why oh why did we share! we wanted our own!) and a carrot cake that was "more than adequate, but not amazing". Bill was a nice price, too.

      ... if you go, hope you report back.

      10 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        I have heard mixed things about Tadich since moving here from New Orleans. From what I understood, Tadich was the SF equivalent of Galatoires or Antoine's. We had a party of six restaurant industry people and were ready to do it up in a grand style during the December holiday season. First of all, the place has a strange kind of soda shop/drugstore feel to it or a the feel of a tired old warhorse diner. The "atmosphere" comes from the old school waiters...a combination of gruff, salty, charming, busy, and indifferent. Because the place is usually bustling, you have no choice but to be patient there. We ordered a lot of different things. Shrimp and crabmeat salads. BORING. This is the first "fine dining" restaurant that I've seen actually use iceberg lettuce. Please! (I know, "Old School" ...I'm from an old school city but crap is crap.) The fish we ordered was served in copious quantity but only passable quality. Pedestrian. The Oysters Rockefeller were pretty much an embarrassment. The kind of goop you'd expect at a chain. Their Cioppino is passable but not glorious and definitve as I've heard it to be. The lamb chops were fine. This is one of those places where your best bets are dishes that don't require any effort in terms of technique, presentation or flavor. Keep it simple! We brought in half a case of wine and all they had were those dinky glasses that were so small and cheap, you'd think they're still around from the '70s. Our experience there was not awful. We had fun. Just nothing to right home about in a city with a plethora of exciting restaurants far more worthy of your time.

        1. re: Porcini

          So, have you had a glorious version of cioppino that was worth righting home about?

          1. re: rworange

            Yes. I've made it. I've had it many ways and some outstanding versions in SF's North Beach area. The one at Tadich was truly a disappointment and it wasn't cheap, either.

            1. re: Porcini

              My disappointing Cioppino was bland, watery, unreduced, with a wealth of pristine seafood but little flavor.

              It makes me angry to hear locals and transplants blithely recommending this dish at this restaurant after my asst'd seafood in water.

              Makes me wonder if they're eating nostalgia and haven't eaten there for years, in better times, after the less than mediocre dish I had.

              Have had good experiences with simple things there, not the tough Lobster Newburgh. My mistake to order it but I thought I was in a Seafood Valhalla time warp -which I like.

              I do appreciate Tadich for the institution it is even if one of the dishes is uneven.

              1. re: stanbee

                There seems to be two varietys of cioppino. One is a thick almost tomato sauce soup like Scoma's and the other is teh thinner broth like Tadich.

                I found the broth at Tadich anything but bland .. full of herbs and flavor.

                Two questions

                1. Who do you think in SF has good cioppino? It is difficult to judge what your taste is.

                2. Other than Tadich's, when was the last time you had lobster newburg? I find sometimes a nostolgic memory doesn't live up to it.

                1. re: rworange

                  I'm experienced with fish stew ,thick and thin white and red. Frutti di Mare, Ciambotte (Jambotte?), Cacciuco, Bourride, Bouilabaisse, Brodetto Marchigiano....

                  Have had great Cioppino at chefs' homes here and in my kitchen.

                  Once and only once there was fine one at Fog City, Novmeber about "95. The dish on return was lackluster with different herbs and a different cook and different season.
                  There's a nice fish stew at Anchor Oyster. Haven't tried their rendition of Cioppino.

                  I grew up on Lobster Newburgh (Newberg?), though i'm never sure how to spell it, and have made it at home and at work last century.

                  1. re: stanbee

                    Sorry if that sounded like I was asking for your seafood credentials.

                    What I wanted to know was what is good cioppino to you.

                    Scoma's seafood in it is better than Tadich's and it gives you an option to order in-shell or out. However, their soup is almost as thick as spaghetti sauce. I preferred Tadich's lighter soup that was closer to boullabaise.

                    Just checking about the lobster. I've had a number of nostalgia dishes and, well, my tastes have changed over the years. That doesn't seem to be your case. I personally would not order Maine lobster on the West Coast being a New England snob. Well, not unless I know the source like Old Port Lobster shack or Woodhouse. Still, is should be better that tough. I wonder if Tadich's is using frozen lobster tails

                    -----
                    West Coast Cafe
                    466 San Mateo Ave, San Bruno, CA 94066

                    1. re: stanbee

                      none of us know how to spell it.

            2. re: Porcini

              Sweet, crunchy, juicy, and cold local iceberg lettuce is the best foil for the seafood salad topped with bay shrimp and crab meat. With a dab of Tadich's Louie dressing, you've got yourself a mini-version of SF's classic Crab Louie salad for just a few bucks.

              Absolutely keep it simple here. It's a bar and grill, not what I'd call a "fine dining" spot. Lots of good advice in this thread to get the best out of Tadich.

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Thank you, lowly Iceberg is the best crunch in town even though it was maligned forever by Craig Claiborne long ago. De rigeur, Iceberg for BLTs and blue cheese or green goddess salads. When I want green crispness, perish the vitamins.

          2. It's very quiet in the middle of the afternoon, walk in and sit down. Definitely a place to try at least once for its unique charm, though you can eat pretty much the exact same meal at Sam's for less money.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Other than price, I happen to prefer Sam's sand dabs...small, succulent, swimming in butter with the ubiquitous boiled potato...perfection.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                good call on Sam's, Robert, I like it better than Tadich, it has a real old san francisco feel to it and the booths and waiters are very cool

                1. re: chuckl

                  What to order at Sam's besides the Sand Dabs?

              2. Might or might not be worthwhile for the chow. But as with the Tour d'Argent in Paris you don't just go for the food, but the history. (A few hundred years less, for the Tadich, but still it's maybe the oldest operating in SF, with reputation as below.)

                --
                Herb Caen, 1970, reported Bn. Philippe de Rothschild asking to be taken to a place "typically Old San Francisco" but then growing impatient waiting for a table at Tadich. M. le Baron: "I dislike doing things like this, but perhaps it would help if you told them who I am." His host: "I dislike telling you this, but I did, 15 minutes ago." (Not from online)

                5 Replies
                  1. re: eatzalot

                    LOL!

                    That's Tadich. Some people have called the service "snooty" but they treat everyone with the same sometimes gruff professionalism.

                    BTW, last time I was there I had the cold, steamed artichoke for my appetizer and it was delicious -- great for someone who comes from an area where artichokes aren't plentiful, and it's peak season now.

                    1. re: eatzalot

                      You can 'soak up' history, but, if you can't enjoy eating it, then what's the point unless you are a photographer or a writer? When six foodies go to a restaurant and order damn near everything and sight and the best dishes are the most basic, simple ones, and even those are pedestrian...then yes, the restaurant isn't very good or wasn't very good. I actually KNOW now, because I moved back to New Orleans and I WORK at Galatoire's! I can stand behind what I serve proudly and our customers love the food, not just the history and the atmosphere.

                      1. re: Porcini

                        Hmm, I would not call the petrale sole we had at Tadich's pedestrian. It is difficult to find restaurants that can cook such a delicate fish without ruining it. Tadich's cooks know how and do it repeatedly every night. There are dozens of posts on this board warning potential diners away from anything but the most simply prepared and fresh caught fish there, and many others warning of frozen crab and possible disappointment in the Tadich cioppino. Our waiter steered us away from the sand dabs, our first choice, because he did not feel they were fresh enough. Like many other restaurants, not every dish is a winner but if your order is informed, you can dine like a monarch there, be treated well and enjoy the ambiance while you're at it.

                        1. re: Porcini

                          My favorite Shrimp Remoulade is Galatoire's . I'm humbled!

                          All. I always want it ALL.

                      2. yes!, Yes!!, YES!!!

                        Either order whatever fish is fresh and have it grilled or go for the cioppino.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DavidT

                          Sand dabs are one of the best things to order. They're pan-fried (too delicate to grill).

                        2. Just for balance---I have no idea what the excitement is about. It's not a matter of touristy. Thoroughly unexciting food, service, and atmosphere.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Windy

                            OTOH, I agree with you absolutely. OTOH, it's an activity that can transport you back in time, somewhat like reading "The Scarlet Letter," or walking into a cave. Even if it's not the culinary equivalent of the Sistine Chapel, it still can be historically interesting.

                            1. re: Claudette

                              For fresh seafood that recalls a different era, I much prefer Swan's Oyster Depot.

                              Local, unpretentious, super friendly, and delicious.

                              1. re: Windy

                                Though not everything they serve is fresh.

                                1. re: Windy

                                  And Tadich isn't local? For that matter, I don't find it pretentious, either.

                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                    I wasn't accusing Tadich of being pretentious or not local. Only pointing out Swan (a place that unlike Tadich I enjoy) provides its own time warp.

                              2. re: Windy

                                Exactly. The whole operation is a snooze.

                              3. To me, if you've never done it, it is definitely worth the trip. It is the quintessential old time SF restaurant. The food is not fancy, but to me that is kind of the point. The key is what is repeatedly mentioned - keep it simple. I usually stick to sand dabs or grilled fish or Crab Louis during crab season. The bread is great, you can get old-timey cocktails and the waiters are about as old-timey as they come. For some of them brusque is a schtick, for others it comes quite naturally. The place is an institution - do it! And yes, late lunch, early dinner is the best way to miss the crowds. Enjoy!

                                1. If you're alone or with only one other person, sit at the counter. Have a drink, read the menu, scan the plates going by. Stick with simple preparations--grilled petrale, pan-fried sand dabs. Enjoy fresh fish at its best. Hope for a foggy evening to walk back to your hotel.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Michael Rodriguez

                                    Last time I was there, I had the "fresh, broiled salmon filet" and forgot to ask if it was wild. After I got it, I asked, and was told it was "farmed." I think they either should not serve farmed or they should at least state that on the menu; after all, they type up a new menu each day.

                                    1. re: walker

                                      If a menu just says "fresh," you should assume that it's farmed.

                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        Thought I would give a report on my trip to Tadich Grill. Stopped by on Tuesday night before taking the redeye out of town. Arrived around 7:30 p.m. and my wife and I were able to grab a seat at the counter immediately. Our waiter was very cordial. None of the gruff manner many people mentioned. He was effecient and fast. Unfortunately, my wife was not that hungry and opted for a salad with tomotes and avacado and crab bisque. The salad was fesh, crisp. The crab bisque was thick, tasty and had plenty of crab, although it wasn't big pieces or lumps. The bread was good although it wasn't as tangy as I expected. I sent mine back because it was too burnt on the out side. The waiter did this by the way quickly with no problem. I was going to order either the sand dabs or fresh fish. I settled on the fresh fish. It was halibut that was broiled to a nice, even doneness and texture. It was not dried out. The fries (long branch?) were a little cold, but big and flavorful. The steamed veggies were tender and tasty. We had a nice Chardonnay with our meal. Had my wife been hungrier, we could have sampled more like the cioppino or sand dabs. All in all, it was fun, the food was good and I can say I've dined at Tadich Grill. As a note: The service was fine and there was no wait. So I guess some of the usual negatives were not an issue.

                                        PS - Someone next me ordered the cioppino and made me wish I had ordered it. It looked great. Oh well.

                                        1. re: tomself

                                          Hey, thanks for reporting back! It's always nice to the outcome of an advice post.

                                          1. re: tomself

                                            Yes, thanks for reporting back! Nice to hear how the story ends...

                                            This reminds me that I really need to make my first visit to Tadich in the near future!

                                    2. Tadich Grill is a true San Francisco institution. It still looks, feels and tastes the same as when I first visited there in the 60s during college, 70s for business, and 80s just for great food. The restaurant reflects the unique fun and historic experience that is San Francisco, drawing heavily on its Gold Rush roots.

                                      It is an eccentric place, that much is true. But this 150-year-old, continuously open restaurant serves some of the best Seafood anywhere. Located in the financial district, Tadich Grill almost always has a line during prime time, takes no reservations, has waiters who some consider abrasive, looks like it is from the past, and is not cheap.

                                      That being said, don’t miss it! There's a good reason it has been around for so long. Its unequalled charm and excellent food keep people coming back decade after decade.

                                      As it was Allyn’s birthday, we each started with a Bloody Mary which was as good as it gets. Their San Francisco sourdough bread is such a treat, that it is served in restaurants all over town. My clam chowder and crab salad was superb, and her smoked trout was terrific.

                                      Barry Shulman
                                      http://jetsetway.com

                                      11 Replies
                                      1. re: jetetway

                                        I first went to Taddich Grill when I was about 8 years old. We went with my uncle and we had a great time. There were lots of us and we got one of those partially enclosed tables.

                                        I've been going to TG ever since. I used to order the casseroles with shrimp and cheese and rice or whatever, then I discovered grilled swordfish and the dinner salad with crab and shrimp with house dressing. Their house dressing is terrific and I can never quite duplicate it. A little sweet, a little vinegary, a little mayo-ey. Their tartar sauce is also wonderful. I haven't ordered anything else for about 20 years. The bread is always fresh and good, but the vegs. leave something to be desired. My husband always get cioppino. We always sit at the counter and read mags, books or the Chron.
                                        What a great place!

                                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                                            Great fun! Thanks for the link. No cioppino unless I am missing it. They do have "Seafood Curry" though.

                                            1. re: Paul H

                                              Cioppino should be listed under House Specials - around $25

                                              1. re: Cynsa

                                                Not in 1968! I wonder if you can still order cheese for dessert. Or maybe, considering how trendy cheese plates are these days, if you can *again* order cheese for dessert.

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  opps! I missed the"1968" price quotes - what might it have been? In those days, we were filling up on cioppino at The Gold Spike on Columbus Ave.
                                                  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                                                  1. re: Cynsa

                                                    That's where I got my cioppino fix, too. Not that I craved it often; usually to initiate visitors.

                                          2. re: jetetway

                                            >> Their San Francisco sourdough bread is such a treat, that it is served in restaurants all over town.

                                            No. While some restaurants serve sourdough, mainly in Fisherman's Wharf these days, Tadich has its own special recipe and starter. It is better than most sourdough in SF.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              Are you saying Tadich doesn't serve sourdough these days? And Tadich bakes in its own ovens?

                                              1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                It looks to me that rworange is saying that Tadich's special sourdough is not served at other restaurants. I believe they have their own starter on file at a local bakery.

                                          3. I know this post is old. But I thought I'd give you my feedback as a tourist for those out-of-towners who are on the fence about Tadich. I realize that most of the posts here are very positive about Tadich. Just wanted to provide a different point of view.

                                            There is history and ambiance. I've had no issues with the waitstaff. For me, unless service is really bad, it's not a deal-breaker. The waiters aren't going to coddle you and start off the evening with, "Hi, my name is _______ and I'll be your server today. What a great outfit, etc..." The service was fine -- very professional and to-the-point.

                                            I think Porcini's assessment of comparing Tadich Grill to Galatoire's in New Orleans is on point in terms of food. The food isn't transcendental or anything like that. It's just simple food, relatively well prepared (different than something like Craft of NYC). I felt that Galatoire's service though was a lot better than Tadich as the servers were really knowledgeable and took the time to really go over the menu with me. I found Tadich's service more no-nonsense. The prices at Galatoire's is also slightly higher than Tadich's, especially in comparison with other restaurants in their respective cities. There's also a jackets policy at Galatoire's, which lends for a more formal experience.

                                            Food is the most important thing for me in a restaurant (as opposed to service, history, decor). Tadich Grill's food was good, but not great (to me). While I can always appreciate something hearty like a well-cooked steak, my preference is generally for lighter foods, where I tend to find at more New American restaurants as opposed to old school places. That said, I'm glad that I went there once to see what the fuss is all about. But it's not the type of restaurant I'm clamoring to get back to. If I was a local, I can see myself enjoying a meal there from time to time. But as a tourist who usually has limited time to spend, I'd rather spend my time eating at the restaurants that excite me more.

                                            27 Replies
                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                              Just curious what you ordered at Tadich. While some of their dishes are "hearty" some of their grilled and pan-fried dishes aren't what I would call heavy. I think most people who recommend Tadich recommend either the cioppino (yeah, hearty), or the sand dabs or petrale sole (much lighter). I also had a surprisingly good entree salad with grilled tuna there once, although I think that was a special.

                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                Hmmm... It was a few years ago so my memory is kind of fuzzy. I'm pretty sure I've had the cioppino, sand dabs and the cheesecake. While the sand dabs were pan-fried as opposed to deep-fried, I kind of found them heavy with all the butter in them.

                                              2. re: Miss Needle

                                                I'm confused why you would mention Craft? Just mentioning the polar opposite approach to cooking?

                                                Tadich makes very simple age old recipes, so if you're looking to be wowed by technique, this isn't the place. A little butter and a dash of spices is all you're getting in prep. That's what they do, and they do it fairly elegantly. Nobody should have false expectations they're going to have the best meal of their life there, but San Francisco doesn't have many other solid throwbacks and that's why Tadich is so beloved.

                                                It's also the last stand for a true Sourdough bread.

                                                1. re: sugartoof

                                                  I mentioned Craft because it is a restaurant that concentrates on simple cooking, heavy on technique and less on spices, letting the ingredients shine through. I can see some posters getting confused by "simple cooking" as it can be interpreted in different ways. Just wanted to let people know (if they're familiar with Craft) that Tadich and Craft are worlds apart, even they're kind of both known for "simple" food.

                                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                                    I just can't imagine there being any confusion at all. Totally different styles.

                                                    Tadich doesn't fuss with technique, but the one thing they do is toss on a time tesed blend of light spices.

                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                      Well, California cuisine is all about "simple cooking," where "the ingredients shine through" and no one would confuse Tadich with Chez Panisse or Zuni, either. Maybe only a NYer would consider simple, ingredient-focused cooking to be indicative of any specific restaurant or even type of restaurant. I don't mean to be harsh to Miss Needle (a fine NY chowhound), but even bringing Craft into the discussion made it more confusing, not less.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        Didn't meant to confuse anybody. My post was really aimed at a lot of the tourists who browse this board as the OP was a tourist. It seems that a lot of N. Californians understand what Tadich, CP or Zuni is all about. But I can see somebody not from the area not really "getting" what these restaurants are all about. I only understood what Zuni was about before I ate there because I had their cookbook. I didn't really understand Tadich until I went there. And as I haven't been to Chez Panisse yet, I can't really say anything about it except that it sounds something similar to Zuni.

                                                        As an aside, I do find there are differences between tourist and local perspectives of must-dos. There are many local places that I personally love and go to for a variety of different items. But I'd probably not call them destination-worthy places (depending on where you're from) if you're a tourist with limited time.

                                                        Tadich Grill from a tourist's (well, my) perspective? Worthy of it if history and ambiance is important to you. Worthy if you like hearty food simply prepared with a bit of salt, pepper and lemon type of deal. Worthy if you just want to satisfy your curiosity from reading all the glowing reports on Chowhound. : ) But if you're looking for a knock-your-socks-off culinary experience, it's probably not for you.

                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                          I actually find it's the tourists, not the locals, who think of Tadich as a destination. For example, it was jetetway who resurrected this old thread to rave about Tadich, and he was visiting from Seattle. I think locals think of it just the way you describe it: a place for solid, classic San Francisco seafood in a traditional atmosphere -- and a pleasant alternative to the latest flashy or trendy dining spot like, for example, it's neighbors within a few doors: Aqua and Perbacco.

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            But Chowhounds are always TELLING visitors it's a destination restaurant. Double standard (Do as I say, not as I do)?

                                                            1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                              Which chowhounds? All chowhounds? Since when do chowhounds "always" do anything? I've recommended Tadich, but not as "if you're coming to SF you must go there" but in response to a more specific question to which I think Tadich is an appropriate answer. As I said, my perception is that a lot of the people who think Tadich is a "must" are visiting chowhounds, not locals, or former locals for whom Tadich has nostalgia value.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                Here are the titles of some of the posts that brought a recommendation of "Tadich Grill" from one or more hounds in the last year. Can you blame a guy or a girl if they got the wrong idea?

                                                                7 hour layover at SFO - what to do?

                                                                Restaurant Recommendation Near Union Square

                                                                socal 'hound family in sf for 8 days over Christmas! specific recommendation requests

                                                                in SF for the weekend..looking for great chinese food and dim sum with a reasonable price.

                                                                What should I eat in S.F.?

                                                                Need Recc for Fun/Delish Daddy-Daughter Dinner in SF

                                                                Visit to SF from NYC -- Where to Eat?

                                                                Visiting SF 10/31: Opinions for Dining on Our Trip?

                                                                Newbie 'Hound requesting specific recs in SF

                                                                6 hours in SF

                                                                Dream SF/Sonoma/Napa Itinerary for a Budget-Minded Foodie (

                                                                Visiting San Francisco from Ireland for 4 Days

                                                                1 day in San Francisco- food must haves

                                                                Canadian going to S.F.: suggestions please

                                                                Visiting from Toronto and looking for the best affordable eats

                                                                Any suggestions near the Hyatt Embarcadero

                                                                What's great near Embarcadero (north fin. dist.) for dining alone in the evening?

                                                                Casual, but Memorable rec's for 1 night in S.F.?

                                                                A Crash Course in San Francisco Dining ?

                                                                Recs for 2 days in SF Nob Hill/financial

                                                                30th Anniversary Dinner

                                                                Ideas for great,mid-range dining in SF?

                                                                30th birthday party for tightwad foodie?

                                                                Near Hilton, Financial District

                                                                LA to SF: Need some great recs (relatively) accessible from Omni

                                                                Quintessential or Noteworthy SF Restaurant for out-of-towner?

                                                                One Night Restaurant Recommendation

                                                                50 th Birthday dinner

                                                                Staying at Le Meridien in SF, where to eat?

                                                                Dining alone, Fri night in Union Sq

                                                                VA CHEF IN BAY AREA JANUARY 7-14, WHERE DO I EAT? NO RESTRICTIONS

                                                                Out-of-towner dining alone in city. need recs

                                                                One Day in SF - What Shouldn't I Miss?

                                                                Visiting SF, need help with dining out

                                                                looking for dining ideas

                                                                Honeymoon in San Fran

                                                                Must Go places in SF?

                                                                San Francisco--recommend good food shops and places to eat? Please share

                                                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                  Wow. A lot of work, but it doesn't change what Ruth said. It gets recommended depending on a poster's request. Usually it is in response to seafood and 'classic SF' type of requests.

                                                                  Had Miss Needle posted saying she was looking for "knock-your-socks-off culinary experience" I doubt she would have gotten a Tadich rec from anyone. I'm confused about the 'glowing reports' she mentions.

                                                                  Tbe second post in this thread, starts with someone who was disappointed with Tadich and the response so clearly defines Tadich, I can't see where anyone would be confused. It even ends with ...

                                                                  "What else can I say? The food isn't going to wow you. If you order one of the classics, it will be well-prepared, a solid effort, and not expensive"

                                                                  And how she came to the opinion is that this is a restaurant frequented by San Franciscans on a regular basis, baffles me. It does get frequented by people working in the Financial District as others have said because it is a solid lunch.When visitors come to town, its a good place. However, I can't think of one time or one person in the entire time I've lived here making a special effort to go there.

                                                                  I strongly suggest before going to Chez Panisse, Miss Needle check the reports on this board and find which camp she falls into. If she is looking for cutting edge food, best to skip it.

                                                                  She wrote 'I didn't really understand Tadich until I went there."

                                                                  I'm sorry, but I just don't think this is a problem for most people, locals or tourists. Decades ago before the internet when Zagat was one of the few options, as a person new to SF, I knew exactly what I would be getting. I had a few misses because I didn't have the guidance about what dishes to stick to, but still I knew what it was. My big problem initially with Tadich was I had just moved to the West Coast. It took me a decade to come to terms with West Coast seafood period.

                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                    A lot of work? Aren't you the one with the 1,000 word posts and the transcribed three-page menus? Why do you think I'm trying to get you on Twitter?

                                                                    You obviously didn't read the titles. Most of them were open-ended "Where should I go" and drew a response "Tadich." It certainly would appear to a potential visitor that Chowhounds were big on Tadich. I think Miss Needle can rihtfully feel she was snookered.

                                                                    So what category do you want to file Tadich under? "Quintessentially San Franciscan" or "Just for tourists?"

                                                                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                      The titles are kind of meaningless. You really have to look at the content. What did the poster ask for within that thread.

                                                                      My impression since Miss Needle said she didn't know what to expect was that she neither asked on Chowhound about it nor read anything anywhere about it and walked in blind. Also, didn't even read this thread, only the recent addition. Otherwise from post two, there is nothing but mixed feelings.

                                                                      Post three says

                                                                      "I have heard mixed things about Tadich since moving here from New Orleans. From what I understood, Tadich was the SF equivalent of Galatoires or Antoine's. We had a party of six restaurant industry people and were ready to do it up in a grand style during the December holiday season. First of all, the place has a strange kind of soda shop/drugstore feel to it or a the feel of a tired old warhorse diner. The "atmosphere" comes from the old school waiters...a combination of gruff, salty, charming, busy, and indifferent. Because the place is usually bustling, you have no choice but to be patient there. We ordered a lot of different things. Shrimp and crabmeat salads. BORING."

                                                                      And it goes on from there.

                                                                      As mentioned, it is a historical restauarant where both tourists and locals eat. If you live here and are in the nabe, not a bad choice. If a tourist and looking for seafood or a piece of old San Francisco, Tadich is a good choice.

                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                        Miss Needle is a long-standing and very active chowhound user, and to suggest that she didn't do her research on CH is an insult to her intelligence. How was she to know that you and others didn't REALLY mean the positive things you said about Tadich in the past?

                                                          2. re: Miss Needle

                                                            Wow. Like steveh, I didn't realize there would be such a fuss over Tadich.

                                                            To answer rworange about perceptions of restaurants before going, I will do my due diligence and perform research on the boards. You can get some sort of idea of what a place is like. But until you step foot into that establishment and eat a meal, I think it's really difficult to make a judgment. You can read posts and menus until you turn blue. But it's not the same as actually experiencing it firsthand.

                                                            Before going to Tadich Grill (which, btw, was before porcini's post), all I've read about was that it was great for sourdough bread and seafood simply done, a not-to-be-missed destination. Ok. Well, Craft restaurant in NYC is known for foods (including seafood) simply cooked as well. They're not known for cutting-edge food at all. I surmise the sand dabs at Tadich were probably lightly floured, put in an egg mixture and breadcrumbs and pan-fried in butter served with lemon. Craft doesn't serve sand dabs. But if they did, I would picture more of them flouring it in Wondra flour (to give them a crisp crust) and pan-frying it in some butter with the tiniest bit of thyme, basting it with the thyme butter occasionally and finishing it off with a generous squirt of lemon. So both of these restaurants would serve simply cooked seafood using similar type of ingredients. But the results would probably be very different. (This is all hypothetical, you know, as Craft doesn't have sand dabs on its menu)

                                                            The reason why I knew what I'd be getting at Zuni before I went there was because I have the cookbook where I saw the recipes broken down. And even with the cookbook, the Zuni experience is different than what one does in her own kitchen as I don't have the access to a lot of the same local ingredients, and I certainly don't have a wood-burning stove in my 650 square foot apartment in Manhattan. I didn't have a Tadich cookbook. If I did, I would have had a better idea of the type of food Tadich served.

                                                            And I'm not always into knock your socks off New American culinary experiences. I enjoy all different types of food. But I have my preferences. And I'm generally looking for things that aren't as easy to get where I'm from. For example, I wouldn't come to SF to look for steak or sushi unless I had a huge craving for it. And if there was a Toronto visitor on the NYC boards, I wouldn't be sending them for dim sum unless she specifically requested it (as it happened recently).

                                                            To answer wolfe's question, I'm in my mid 30s, which makes me old enough, I guess, to have lived through Sweets' time. But if it closed 20 years ago, my interests lied elsewhere in my teens. I've been to a few NY institutions at that age, but was more concerned with McDonalds, jia jiang myun and the best pizza in my hood.

                                                            ETA: I haven't been to Chez Panisse yet. So while I've got an idea of what type of restaurant it is, I have't put myself in any camp.

                                                            1. re: Miss Needle

                                                              "Before going to Tadich Grill (which, btw, was before porcini's post), all I've read about was that it was great for sourdough bread and seafood simply done, a not-to-be-missed destination."

                                                              Thanks. You've verified that my memory and my own reading comprehension skills haven't totally gone south in my dotage. That's exactly how I woud summarize past posts on Tadich.

                                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                Well said, you didn't need Lochinvargary.

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                  The Tadich -> Craft comparison is like trying to compare Zuni to Grand Central Oyster Bar. Making it suggests something got lost in translation along the way. I don't understand the confusion in this instance, but I certainly understand your frustration.

                                                                  1. re: sugartoof

                                                                    You may have your simile backwards, FWIW

                                                                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                      oh right.

                                                                      Tadich-Craft ...... Oyster Bar-Zuni.

                                                                      I'm sure people followed my point either way. Tadich is miles better then Oyster however.

                                                                  2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                    Love the huge Broiled Lobster Tail at Tadich.

                                                              2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                Miss Needle, did you like the food at Sweets across from the old Fulton Fish Market?

                                                                1. re: wolfe

                                                                  Sweets has been gone for nearly 20 years. You may be making an assumption about Miss Needle's age that she doesn't appreciate, Wolfe

                                                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                    Maybe not. The restaurant comparison is, however, valid. Fresh seafood, simply prepared with crusty waiters but for Sweet's no crusty San Francisco sourdough.

                                                            2. re: Miss Needle

                                                              lol. i never knew there was a lot of fuss over tadich. to me, it's a solid place for lunch in the financial district. i sit at the bar, drink a martini or two and enjoy the seafood. i go late so i miss the lunch crowd. i wear a blazer because, well, i just do.

                                                              like galatoire's, i always leave tadich feeling good. wait staff takes excellent care of me without hovering. i never thought of tadich as a high-end or fancy destination. just a comfortable place that seldom disappoints.

                                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                I understand the visitors perspective but New American is sort of dime a dozen in SF (although I enjoy it), old school is not. Your assessment of casual (compared to NY) and straightforward service is about right. But that's California and Tadich is old school no-fuss SF. For seafood and crab in particular, you really shouldn't be doing too much to it.

                                                              2. "Eating at the Tadich Grill is like being bathed in the glow of a an emanation of a penumbra from a long-ago San Francisco. It's comforting to be surrounded by softly polished wood instead of blank concrete, and it seems right for the waiters to be wearing white linen instead of black turtlenecks, but it makes you long —just a bit— for a roasted beet and goat cheese salad."

                                                                6 Replies
                                                                1. re: Paul H

                                                                  Anybody here ever eat at ERNIE'S - now THAT was real San Francisco too.

                                                                  1. re: toitoi

                                                                    Ernie's was great, and I prefer Sam's for Sand Dabs, but Tadich was just a block from my office; it's just fine. But you must listen to the wait staff, they won't steer you wrong.

                                                                  2. re: Paul H

                                                                    The quote sounded almost Herb Caen-like until the end. Unattributed but for Google swallowing a large block and spitting out the source.
                                                                    http://www.sweetandsourspectator.org/...

                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                        Ah, to have a better memory or a better computer.

                                                                      2. re: wolfe

                                                                        That is the blog of Paul H. It isa nice review too and good copy of a menu circa 2005 ... which is the same as mine circa 2006 which is probably the same as today ... or decades ago ... which price differences and the shuffling of a few dishes.

                                                                        Tadich specials to reflect the times. Yes, 2005 was the year of the monkfish.

                                                                        Reading that makes me think how restaurants have changed. When I moved here a pieces of fish, sourdough and a nice glass of wine would be a more common meal. Even though I said that people in the Financial District eat there, it is less so these days with workers in the immediate vicinity more likely to go over to Ferry Plaza rather than Tadich. People still go, but not as often.

                                                                    1. Well I have to respectfully disagree - I had one of, perhaps the worst, meal of the past year the one time my Ex (who was visiting for a few days) and I ate there earlier this year. We're friends, but the food was just horrible. All told I was quite disappointed. Definitely a lot of character, quite busy at lunchtime, but I didn't find the food was very fresh or flavorful.

                                                                      But that was just one visit, I'd try it again and order very different dishes - but I have a few dozen other places to try first.

                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                      1. re: ShannonClark

                                                                        Couldn't agree with you more, Shannon. My partner and I took a friend from New York for dinner there last night. Not a memorable evening. The Ramos fizzes were worth the price of admission, but the oysters on the half shell were watery and flavorless - probably the worst oysters I've ever had and I've had many. Two of us ordered the crab cakes. Consistency was excellent but flavor (and crabbiness) was sorely lacking. My partner had the sand dabs and they were the highlight of the evening. As for the sides - limp broccoli and rice with nothing recognizable in it (an ersatz pilaf?) - they would have been quite at home in a school cafeteria. Service was excellent. We got there at 5:15 and were immediatley seated. When we left at 6:30 they were stacked up at the bar waiting for tables. I love the atmosphere, the little private dining rooms, the feeling of old San Francisco all brass fittings and wainscoting, but I suspect lunch is a lot better than dinner - at least you won't be that disappointed if your midday meal is mediocre. Anyone for Sam's?

                                                                        1. re: upvalley

                                                                          i had a late lunch there on Christmas Eve day and had one of the best meals I've had in a long time. The large serving of Chilean Sea Bass was just perfect and the rest was very tasty.

                                                                          1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                                                            Best cioppino in San Francisco in my opinion. I had it again last Tuesday and had forgotten how good this dish is. Fills you up, amazingly flavorful broth, perfectly complimentary garlic bread. I thought pesce had the best ciopinno in SF for a while, but Tadich has swung me back in its corner.

                                                                            1. re: PulledPork

                                                                              I have to agree 100%. Their cioppino is the best I've ever had anywhere. i'm actually craving it now, which is the reason I'm writing this.