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Best cioppino in San Francisco

Many restaurants featue cioppino on their menu. Where should we go to eat the best?

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  1. Tadich Grill or Scoma's get good grades on this board.

    Tadich Grill
    240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Scoma's Fisherman's Wharf
    47 Pier 45, San Francisco, CA 94133

    1. Rose Pistola's is the best I've had but I haven't had it for a few years.

      Not in SF, but the best I've had in recent years was at Duarte's in Pescadero.

      Cioppino's not one of the things I'd order again at Tadich.

      Duarte's Tavern
      202 Stage Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060

      Rose Pistola
      532 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133-2802

      5 Replies
      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        I'm a Rose Pistola fan as well, but at $32, it is pricey. I've recently found Sotto Mare's at $27 quite comparable and perfect for two to share (not that you can't share Rose Pistola's).

        1. re: Carrie 218

          Interesting. I can see a Rose Pistola Cioppino in my future.

          1. re: Carrie 218

            I'll second the recommendation for Sotto Mare. The cioppino is excellent and generously-portioned. Also, their sand dabs are sublime - no capers, etc. to spoil the delicate flavor.

            Sotto Mare
            552 Green St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          2. re: Robert Lauriston

            I agree on the Duarte's recommendation. Better than anything I've had in the city. They used to have a terrific wine list at ridiculously low prices, but that was when the current owner's father was running things.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I have to disagree on the Duarte's rating. I drove down there yesterday to check out the Cioppino for lunch. Disappointing, given the 'best' rating. Broth was warm, not hot. More importantly, bland/little flavor. Contained two shrimp (unshelled) two clams and two bites of fish. Now granted, it contained a generous portion of crab. About six large lags/claws. But way over priced at $31 (same price all day) given that it is crab season and crab is inexpensive on the market. I found Rose Pistola's and Tadich's much better (in that order) and I have had lunch at each fairly recently.

              Duarte's Tavern
              202 Stage Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060

              Rose Pistola
              532 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133-2802

            2. I recently had the cioppino at Restaruant Ideale and would not recommend it. The sauce was very dark and had a slight overcooked/burnt character. It seemed more like mole than red sauce! The fish was squid, clams, mussels, and shrimp, all low-cost. It was $22 and not worth the money.

              I hope this thread can be used to collect a large number of detailed cioppino reports so we can finally have a chance of finding the best version. Cioppino crawl anyone?

              1315 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

              1 Reply
              1. re: Paul H

                A cioppino crawl will kill you. It is like a pupusa crawl. Too filling.



                The Nantucket (not in SF)

                PJ's (not in SF

                It's been four years since I attempted a crawl and I still can't work up enthusiasm for that next bowl.

                What's with serving cioppino on pasta. Has anyone heard of this? A few of the Fisherman Wharf restaurants do this. What's up with that?

              2. Old clam house on bayshore, not the most convienent location but best cioppino!

                1 Reply
                1. re: mick

                  Tasty enough but the fish and crustacea are all way overcooked in that dish. Save yourself.

                2. My thoughts on Cioppino are this:

                  Whether it is true or not, The Tadich Grill is supposedly the first restaurant to offer it if memory serves me correctly.......so I would definitely have it on my list to try at some point in time. Personally, that time would be first on the list....then I could judge all other versions accordingly to the original recipe.

                  As for the best.....you can take the most expensive ingredients with the best fish in mind...but overcooked fish is overcooked fish. I like to go into my dining experiences with modest expectations....I find I am less likely to be disappointed. It is like ordering Sand Dabs at the The Tadich Grille. Many swear by them...and many say they are not that good.....but really, were just talking about some nice flour seasoned fish fillets....what are you really looking for?



                  11 Replies
                  1. re: fourunder

                    >>> It is like ordering Sand Dabs at the The Tadich Grille. Many swear by them...and many say they are not that good.....but really, were just talking about some nice flour seasoned fish fillets....what are you really looking for?<<<

                    It is like any fish. Easy to overcook. Is it fresh or frozen which makes a difference. What type of oil are they fried it. Flour coated or au natural? Is there 'stuff' on them such as capers that might overwhelm the delicate flavor. Are they sitting on the counter getting cold while the waiter ignores them? Etc.

                    1. re: fourunder

                      I doubt anyone can say which restaurant first served cioppino, but back then it was made with the local catch of the day.

                      Tadich today uses frozen shrimp, and according to that Chronicle article you linked to, they changed their recipe in the 20s or 30s.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        There are few restaurants that don't use frozen shrimp for lots of stuff. Yeah, I was thinking it wasn't the first, but it has probably been serving it longer than anyone due to just being in business longer than anyone and not a bad benchmark to use since it is the cioppino so many like. It has many good elements to it.

                        Then again you have to watch against them chainging that recipe every 90 years or so.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Damn upstart young rabble rousers!

                          1. re: rworange

                            I'm just addressing fourunder's theory that Tadich has the "original recipe."

                            1. re: rworange

                              I think the first time I went to Tadich upon moving here, which was admittedly years ago, the cioppino was a real disappointment. I seem to recall the shrimp were darn near like the frozen pop corn variety, limp and without flavor. The whole dish was off.

                              These days, I stick to the Charbroiled fish (usually the Petrale Sole), while my better half goes with the Seafood Saute (solid, though a bit rich).

                          2. re: fourunder

                            Hate to be a contrarian, but after all the high recommendations, I found Tadich's a watery, underseasoned, unreduced stew of overcooked fish and shellfish.

                            ps I love the Sand Dabs and the Long Branch Potatoes. The Emperor wore no clothes at my Cioppino. Probably it was good a generation or more ago?

                            You'll find a better fish stew now and Cioppino, in crab season, at Anchor Oyster Bar, The Castro. The herbs are thyme, hot pepper flakes, garlic. Just so you don't expect basil in the mix. Hunks of garlic cheese bread dripping with butter for dunking. Tiny venue; no res.

                            Anchor Oyster Bar
                            579 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                            1. re: stanbee

                              What are "Long Branch potatoes," anyway? Steak fries?

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Tadich's Long Branch potatoes are French fries twice-fried. (on the menu with Shoe-string and Hash Browned)

                                1. re: Cynsa

                                  I understand they are soaked in sugar water before frying in steak fry cuts.

                          3. While Tadich or Scoma's was a 'chalk favorite' and stated to be "the place to go" when we visited your fair city back in Oct, this Jerseyite (shore resident) loved the cioppino at Pescatore's. I can only presume that you folks have it in for anything that is in the shadow of Fisherman's Wharf (though, isn't Scoma's near there???) because of the 'tourista trap-rap"..

                            Anyway, we have fresh fish (Atlantic) 2-3x per week here in the Red Bank/Asbury Park area restaurants that tap into the fishing fleets of nearby Atlantic Highlands, Belmar and Point Pleasant co ops. It's not like we live in Ohio and don't know good seafood.

                            Pescatore's was memorable. Sure it was a bit noisy with the doors/sliders open, but the food was quite good. I'd visit Pescatore's in a heartbeat for their cioppino. It was fresh, cooked just right (on the medium rare side) and was extremely well balanced.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ParadiseWaits

                              The price looks good too.

                              Unless people report about the places they have been, how are people know what is good? You've made a few queries about visits to SF and never reported where you ate. Did you eat at Danko? Did you like it?

                              Not only does reporting back keep info fresh ... the group that owns that restaurant is constantly going through changes... it helps you more in the long run. We get a feel for what you like and don't and are able to make better future recommendations.

                              There is more drek than good at Fisherman's Wharf. After a while, locals stop throwing money at the drek and avoid places like FW, though there might be some good stuff we are missing out on. Also, there are so many restaurants opening all the time that the lure is to the latest and greatest and so places that have been there a zillion years get forgotten ... unless people report abou them.

                              Thanks for the tip. I have this place on my long list of places to try after another poster mentioned the great risotto there. I hear they make a good tomato soup too.

                              Cafe Pescatore
                              2455 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94133

                              1. re: rworange

                                And, the parking down there is really rough, and, there's not that much residential housing and I bet few locals actually eat on FW,

                            2. Has anyone ever tried the cioppino at Little Henry's, Woodhouse, Nettiels Crab Shack, or Capannina?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                About 10 years ago a buddy ordered the cioppino at Little Henry's out near the Balboa theater. It looked good and he liked it (SF native) and it was very reasonable (like $12 bucks). It was a big bowl as well.

                                The thing is, I heard Little Henry's has taken a bit of a dip in quality...however if the prices are still relatively less, it might well be worth a trip during crab season.

                                Okay I found LH's menu, might be old but it lists the cioppino at $14.95 (they mis-spelled it.) That's pretty much half the going rate. http://sanfrancisco.menupages.com/res...

                              2. Cioppino's the restaurant serves a pretty good one, although the mediocrity of the rest of the menu (save for items with dungeness crab) would make it a difficult choice unless everyone in your party was going to order cioppino

                                Michael Bauer mentioned that Frascati had a good appetizer-sized cioppino, but it appears to be seasonal and is not currently on their menu

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: vulber

                                  "Appetizer-sized cioppino" seems like an oxymoron.

                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I also really enjoy the ciopinno at Pesce and at The Franciscan.

                                    1. re: PulledPork

                                      I enjoy the cioppino at the Franciscan, but Rose Pistola's is the best that I have had. Never tried Tadich Grill's version so I don't have an opinion.

                                      Rose Pistola offers their cioppino for $20 on their lunch menu. I think it may be a smaller size, but that's ok because I can never finish the dinner sized one.

                                      Tadich Grill
                                      240 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111

                                      Rose Pistola
                                      532 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133-2802

                                2. We recently ate at Soto Mare and had one of our best meals ever. It was friendly and the food was incredible.

                                  The oysters tasted like the ocean; the crab was so fresh and good; then we shared a big tureen of Ciopinno, Sand Dabs and Linguine with loads of Seafood.

                                  We liked it way better than Tadich Grill. Soto Mare puts the crab legs in the Ciopinno which is much better than picked meat. Tadich is good but not as friendly or delicious.

                                  1. i never had better than made at home using the recipe from the silver palate cook book.