Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Oct 27, 2007 08:54 AM

Sour dough bread

I've always thought this was a big deal in San Francisco, but when we were visiting about 8 years ago- didn't really find any. Just did a search on this board, and couldn't find any help, either!

We are visiting SF in a couple of weeks. Where should I go to find real, good, sour dough bread?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Boudin's. It's about the last survivor of the old-style San Francisco sourdough bread bakeries and was adjudged the best even when it still had competition. Go to the Boudin bread museum/bakery at Fisherman's Wharf and get it fresh out of the oven. The real stuff has a very short half-life.

    1. Danilo on Green and Italian French Baking Company on Grant are probably the last two old-style mom-and-pop North Beach bakeries that do sourdough. Their sourdough starters are passed down, with daily careful feeding, for generation!

      1 Reply
      1. re: الشره

        True enough. Boudin's sourdough "mother" has lived on since 1849 as well, or so they say. I do think the Wharf facility is worth a visit for the educational value, in any event.

      2. Boudin is the tourist's choice. And they make a decent bread, really.

        The sourdough I eat on a regular basis are the unsliced sourdough loafs from Grace and Acme. They all come fresh baked in paper sacks at my local grocery store, and are somewhat hard to distinguish. I believe I prefer Acme's Sourdough.

        In tourist mode, Acme is available at the Ferry Building. Getting some cheese from the cowgirl creamery and a sourdough baguette and just chowing would be delightful. Mention to the cowgirl folks exactly which bread you'll be eating it on, and I bet they'll pull out a killer selection.

        6 Replies
        1. re: bbulkow

          A note on Acme and Grace sourdough: they're nice enough breads, but if you're looking for a really sour sourdough, look elsewhere. I've found both to be only slightly sour and lacking in "typical" sourdough taste.

          1. re: Humbucker

            I agree with that even though I love Acme. If you really want to go the extra mile, you can go to Boulette's Larder in the Ferry Bldg and buy yourself some authentic San Francisco sourdough starter to take home.

            1. re: chemchef

              SF sourdough starter taken to an environment outside the SF Bay Area will be just any ole sourdough starter. To make genuine SF sourdough, you need San Francisco air, or two microorganisms in the air (Lactobacillus sanfrancisco and candida humilis). They put the sour in SF sourdough.

              You may think an extra tangy sourdough to be more authentic than one not so tangy, but that isn't the case. Lots of bakeries use a starter (biga, levain, etc.) but add vinegar (acetic acid) to get the extra sour flavor. So the sour flavor is kind of a fake.

              There's little real sourdough around. The sophisticated air filters in most bakeries filter out the beneficial airborne microorganisms as well as the "bad" bugs that could infect large batches of dough. I'd start with Tartine, Della Fattoria and Acme Bread, and see what your think.

              Tartine and Della Fattoria especially make artisan bread with some depth to the flavor. Acme and Grace do a wonderful job also. All four bakeries use artisan techniques and ingredients. Try them first. Avoid the tourist traps on Fisherman's Wharf unless you can't possibly stay away.

              I'll see what I can dig up on in terms of accuracy and Boudin.

            2. re: Humbucker

              I agree as well. Acme makes great bread (I'm less fond of Grace), but it's not traditional San Francisco sourdough.

              1. re: Humbucker

                yeah, for "real" SF sour dough, I'd go to Italian French Baking Co. or Danilo. Italian French used to have extra sour sourdough (and great bread sticks!) Yum! Be warned that these places tend to close early, after they sold out their stuff for the day... so go early!

                1. re: intomeat

                  Thanks to all! Good info that I'll put to good use on our trip!

            3. I think the bread at Tartine is the best sourdough in the country. It is clearly worth the trip off the beaten tourist path. Some of the "real" sourdough that people like to think about is just mediocre bread with acetic acid added. Don't be fooled by how sour the bread is. Focus on artisan ingredients and handling and complexity of flavor.