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Aug 18, 2011 12:47 AM

San Francisco Genuine / Popular / Local Foods?

For those of you who live in or travel to San Francisco frequently, please let me know what foods are an "absolute must" try.... what says "SF best" and is usually recommended to tourists? Any suggestion will be highly appreciated! Thanks a lot.

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  1. Sourdough Bread!!!
    Crab on the Wharf
    Chinatown Dim Sum

    1. I see from your only other post that you are collecting info for a project. Is this for a newspaper article, blog, school, wikipedia ... what?

      9 Replies
      1. Some starts. If you search the board, this topic has been discussed in the past.

        1 Appetizers

        Local oysters

        2 Soups

        Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (for tourists only)

        Artichoke (coastal areas)\

        3 Salads

        Crab Louie

        Green goddess dressing

        4 Main courses

        Sand dabs

        Dungeness crab


        5 Side dishes

        Rice-a-roni (kidding ... not really a SF treat)

        6 Desserts

        It's it Ice creampie

        Ollieberry pie

        7 Fast food

        Taco trucks

        8 Street food

        Mission style burrito

        9 Drinks (Non-alcoholic)

        Locally roasted coffee

        Chinese tea

        10 Drinks (Alcoholic)

        Wine (lots of local bouque wineries)

        Irish coffee (for the tourist crrowd)

        Anchor steam beer (already listed)

        Numberous other boutique, local beers

        1. re: rworange

          An It's It is an ice-cream sandwich made with oatmeal cookies dipped in chocolate. The original was vanilla ice cream. Joe's Ice Cream makes a Joe's It that's much closer to the handmade original than the contemporary mass-produced factory product.

          Joe's Ice Cream
          5420 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Good suggestion.

            Since the original page lists Rice-a-roni as a main dish ... without irony ...I don't think good is a criteria. ... just "Genuine / Popular / Local "

            1. re: rworange

              If something's not delicious, that's always relevant on Chowhound, whether the original poster cares or not.

              Rice-A-Roni did originate in SF, though it was a national product and I don't think it sold particularly well here.

              1. re: rworange

                Have been here longer than 20 years. Have never seen rice-aroni on any menu but there may bea place I've misse. It's not a popular local restaurant food.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                I didn't realize Joe's was hand dipping ice cream sandwiches again. Thanks for the tip.

                1. re: sugartoof

                  I could be out of date, haven't been there in a while.

            2. local specialties worth seeking out:
              Mission-style burrito
              sand dabs
              Rex sole
              Dungeness crab
              BBQ oysters

              famous dishes of local origin:
              Hangtown fry
              Joe's Special
              Green Goddess dressing
              crab Louis
              celery Victor
              fortune cookies
              crab Rangoon
              warm goat cheese salad
              Martini cocktail (debatable)

              often misidentified as of local origin:
              Irish coffee
              chowder in bread bowl

              8 Replies
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Just curious, but do you consider sour dough bread (minus the chowder) an SF food or do you think it is misidentified as well?

                1. re: lrealml

                  People have been making sourdough bread for thousands of years. How distinctive the local style once was and whether anyone still makes it is debatable:


                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Robert, can you provide a pointer to a source for "warm goat cheese salad" originating here? Thanks.

                  1. re: Paul H

                    Google the history of Chez Panisse. Wikipedia says it was invented there in the late 70s.

                    Chez Panisse
                    1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                    1. re: Paul H

                      It's hard to prove a negative, but I haven't found any reference to it before Chez Panisse started serving the dish in 1981. "Alice's idea of warm goat cheese in a salad was apparently unprecedented. 'There may have been baked goat cheese in France,' she says, 'but I don't think anybody had ever combined it with a salad.'"—Thomas McNamee, "Alice Waters and Chez Panisse"



                      Chez Panisse
                      1517 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94709

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        on my 3rd trip to Paris in 1999, i had a salad with warm goat cheese. so are we assuming it had made its way from Berkeley to France (among other places) by then?

                        1. re: mariacarmen

                          McNamee goes on, "The salad has proved so popular that it is now seen on a good many bistro menus in France ...."

                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                      Another famous dish I learned recently is of local origin: chicken / turkey / whatever Tetrazzini.

                      Cockscomb sometimes does modern takes on that and some of the other old-school dishes. Ditto Wayfare Tavern.

                    3. rworange, you got it me! I am researching for a contribution I am making to the Food Wiki, maybe you heard of it: MyCityCuisine. I hope you guys don't mind if I'm going to include your suggestions in the dish list I already started making for San Francisco. I also found previous threads and they helped a lot. If anyone is curious about what I have done so far, check this out: It might not be entirely accurate, but as this is an open project anybody can contribute / change / delete so please feel free to do any of those. If you have some other suggestions, I will be happy to include them there. Thanks again!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Korianne

                        At your link, "Joe’s Special: a hearty mixture of beef, onions, spinach and eggs" is listed under salads. It's a main course.

                        The San Francisco burrito is better known as Mission-style.

                      2. Dutch crunch bread didn't originate in San Francisco, but it's especially prevalent here, and would probably be a novelty to those not from Northern California.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: hyperbowler

                          People from other areas might know it as tijgerbrood, pao tigre, or mottled bread.

                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            I had never heard of it before moving here.

                          2. re: hyperbowler

                            Is there a perfectly crunchy Dutch Crunch roll/bread in the area? I've tried Semifreddi's a couple of times, and while the bread is perfectly fine, it didn't have the crunch I was expecting. Theirs seems to be the one I see most often, so I'm wondering if there are others I'm missing.

                            1. re: Spenbald

                              I've been eating dutch crunch for about ten years, and never really gave it much thought. I made my above comment after eating a delicious dutch crunch roll from Haight Street market's sandwich counter yesterday. Wow. The crust was thick, sweet, memorable, and especially crunchy. I'll ask where they source it next time I head there. I doubt it, but I could imagine it being a Semifreddi's roll that was toasted in a way I haven't had before.

                              4242 Hollis St, Emeryville, CA

                              1. re: Spenbald

                                I stand corrected--- Wedemeyer Bakery makes the dutch crunch at Haight Street.