Culinary Institutions; SF’s Culinary History: Part 3 of 12

Sears Fine Food

San Francisco's oldest restaurant is Tadich Grill on California Street, in the Financial District. In 1849, this Croatian family-owned business started out as a simple coffee stand. Then after the Turn of the Century, the restaurant adopted the name Tadich Grill and became the popular seafood bistro people still enjoy today. The Tadich Grill is also credited for being the first in the city to use a charcoal grill -- a traditional cooking method that's common on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia. 

George Mayes, also from Croatia, opened Mayes Oyster House on California Street in 1867 – it is the second oldest restaurant still operating in San Francisco. Mayes prospered until fire broke out after the 1906 earthquake and destroyed everything in its path. A year later, Mayes reopened on Polk Street in Polk Gulch. Local politicians and people of stature frequented the restaurant for years. But eventually the restaurant lost its momentum and closed for some time. In 2009, a new owner acquired the historic site and re-introduced the original Mayes Oyster House concept. The apparent differences between the old Mayes  and the new are the modern day ambiance and updated menu items like sushi and Kobe beef. 

"America's Oldest Italian Restaurant," Fior d'Italia opened in North Beach in 1886. Right from the start, this institution for fine Northern Italian cuisine had to move several times to accommodate popular demand before it settled into its comfortable spot on Union Street, next to Washington Square Park. There it thrived for over fifty years, until fire forced its closure in 2005. Now located on Mason Street at the San Remo Hotel, the restaurant continues to carry on its tradition with such favorite dishes as the Gnocchi and Osso Buco. Fior d'Italia has a firm commitment to authenticity, as well as offering their guests a taste of some less common Northern Italian dishes like Venison Carpaccio and Rabbit Stew. 

In 1938, Ben Sears and his wife, Hilbur, opened the World Famous Sear's Fine Food on Powell Street in Union Square. The restaurant was established to showcase a treasured family recipe for Swedish pancakes that had been passed down for generations. The famous dish features 18 dollar-sized pancakes with warm maple syrup and country-style whipped butter. Sears Fine Food was acquired by Quita Benner in the early 1950s, but since the restaurant had already been proven successful, Benner saw no reason to change the name or menu. Even to this day, Sears Fine Food remains one of San Francisco's true originals. 

San Francisco's Culinary History: Part 1 of 12

The Iconic Foods of San Francisco; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 2 of 12


Culinary Institutions; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 3 of 12

Fisherman's Wharf; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 4 of 12

North Beach; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 5 of 12

The Mission; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 6 of 12

Nostalgia; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 7 of 12

The Creme de la Crème; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 8 of 12

Asian Influence; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 9 of 12

The Veggie Scene; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 10 of 12

Ice Cream Goodness; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 11 of 12

Food Forward; San Francisco’s Culinary History: Part 12 of 12



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