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Mar 5, 2013 11:31 AM

When did chowder in a bread bowl get to SF?

Always seems weird to me that tourists associate this with SF, but I guess it started at the Wharf in the 90s, so they all saw it and locals didn't.

Earliest mention I can find of this dish is from a 1984 San Diego tourist guide, which refers to O.B. Pier Cafe's "famous clam chowder served in a bread bowl."

It was in Arizona and New England before the first reference to it in SF, in a 1992 guidebook, which doesn't say where you could get it. A 1995 guidebook says "the corner of Jefferson and Taylor is jam-packed with street stands that hawk all kinds of goodies, including ... thick clam chowder in a bread bowl." First reference I find to it specifically at Boudin is 1996.

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  1. I think it was at Candlestick in the late 80's, chili in a bread bowl may have been first, mid 80's.

    1. Gosh, I remember the bread bowl from the 80's for sure.

      Chowder specifically in the bread bowl, no idea. but I LOVE SF food history so let us know what else you find out!

      1 Reply
      1. re: smatbrat

        I remember chowed in a bread bowl in the 1980s - in Washington and British Columbia.

      2. Good question. I certainly didn't grow up eating it and there's no reference to it the Rand McNally 1981 San Francisco Guide I recently dug up. I do remember my son eating it a lot when was little -- mid to late 90s -- at the Boudin cafes at the malls in Walnut Creek and San Rafael and the one near 4th Street in Berkeley. The second two are gone now. Maybe the locals (over the age of 5) don't like playing with their food?

        1. Definitely not around when I was growing up (50's/60's).

          1. I know I had chowder in a sourdough bowl on Fisherman's Wharf in 1990 and again in 1991. Yep, I was a tourist. Yep, it was good -- sitting on the wharf eating good chowder, drinking a cold bottle of Anchor Steam and watching the boats come and go.