When the fog rolls into San Francisco- or on days it never leaves- you want to warm your chilled bones with a hearty meal. We haven’t had many days like that this year as it has been a very mild (actually gorgeous) winter. We did have a few days of rain and dense fog recently so I used it as an opportunity to try a famous dish originating in San Francisco- Cioppino. This seafood stew of crab, clams, shrimp, scallops, mussels and the catch of the day has been a staple since the late 1800′s. What better place to try it than at San Francisco’s oldest seafood restaurant, Tadich Grill.
When you walk into this restaurant, it’s like stepping back in time. There is a long bar stretching the length of the restaurant and you’re greeted by gentleman in white coats and ties. I had a drink at the bar while waiting for my table but we didn’t wait long. We ordered the Cioppino and pulled apart some warm, fresh sourdough.
The giant bowl arrived and the first thing you notice is the intense aroma of the warm broth. I put on my Tadich Grill bib and dug in. All of the seafood was cooked perfectly. It has a smoky flavor due to the mesquite grill cooking they use on their seafood. The broth was warm and light but packed full of flavor. I actually wanted to ask if they bottle that it was so good. Looking around the restaurant you notice everyone who orders this dish slips into a seafood daze, forgetting about conversation or anything going on around them. I was thankful I hadn’t eaten all of the warm sourdough so I could dunk it into the bowl, soaking up more of that amazing broth.
I can’t wait to go back to Tadich for lunch. I don’t think I’ll be able to bring myself to order a different dish, although I’m sure they are all delicious. The staff is warm, friendly and you feel so welcome that you feel no shame about tying the paper apron around your neck and slurping down a hearty seafood stew.