San Francisco may be a fairly young city, but it’s still rich in history. And, fortunately, you can get a taste of old-school San Francisco at some of its longest-standing restaurants—one of which has been around since the Gold Rush. Here are eight classic spots that’ll quickly transport you back to more innocent times.
1. Tadich Grill
Tadich Grill is monumental and celebrated because it is California’s oldest restaurant. This historic spot prides itself on serving its customers the freshest and most delicious seafood available. History and food go hand in hand here.
2. Schroeder's - Financial District
Historic German beer hall that opened in 1893. This spot is known for bratwurst, boot-glass beers, and Oktoberfest parties. Schroeder's offers 22 beers on tap and a modern German menu for lunch and dinner. Also, until the 1970s women were not allowed inside.
3. Sam's Grill & Seafood Restaurant
Sam's Grill dates back to 1867, when an Irishman began selling the delicious fresh oysters that were abundant in San Francisco Bay. Sam’s serves traditional San Francisco cuisine and cocktails with a focus on locally sourced ingredients, and sustainable seafood served in an old-school setting.
4. The Old Clam House
You could argue this Bayview seafood restaurant is technically older than Tadich Grill, given that it's been in the same location since 1861 (Tadich moved around before settling on its current spot). The house is indeed old, but the seafood is not. Get yourself a shot of clam juice and their "Original" Clam Bake Cioppino.
5. Fior D'Italia
This North Beach gem will truly make you feel like you're in old-school San Francisco. Opened in 1886, Fior D'Italia claims to be America's oldest Italian restaurant. Today, it sits on the ground floor of the historic San Remo Hotel. Get authentic Northern Italian classics, including rich risotto, decadent linguine, and the never-fail Lasagna Bolognese.
6. Swan's Oyster Depot
This tiny local fave opened its doors on Polk Street back in 1912 and has since been satisfying long lines of customers with their fresh seafood. Some favorites include the sea urchin, clam chowder, or Anthony Bourdain's top choice: fresh sourdough bread dunked in crab roe.
7. Balboa Cafe
Established in 1913, this Fillmore Street joint is one of the city's oldest saloons and maintains a classic yet casual ambiance. Come here for brunch or to tackle the Balboa Burger on a Baguette, one of the best burgers in San Francisco.
8. The Cliff House
The Cliff House was founded in 1863 and has been in its current location since 1938. This waterfront beauty overlooks Ocean Beach, Seal Rocks, and the Sutro Bath ruins with its floor-to-ceiling windows. There are a few options here, including Sutro’s, known for its fresh seafood and the more casual Bistro Restaurant, a favorite for breakfast or brunch.
Have you eaten at any of these longest-standing restaurants in San Francisco? Did your favorite restaurant make the list?