Italian food in San Francisco

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May 8, 2022

Oldest Restaurants in San Francisco by Neighborhood

In 49 square miles, you'll find genre-breaking cuisines, the freshest produce, and new cooking techniques that will delight your tongue. While San Francisco's culinary scene is always looking to the future, the city holds tightly to its history and pays homage to it at every opportunity. You find an eclectic group of restaurants on this list with diverse menus. One thing is for sure; these restaurants are all classics.


The Old Clam House (299 Bayshore Blvd.)
The Old Clam House has been in the same location since 1861. Needless to say, this place is a must-go for seafood lovers.  Specializing in clams, mussels, and oysters, The Old Clam House has been a San Francisco gathering place for waterfront workers in the past and locals and neighbors in the present.  Have you had your shot of clam juice today? Most Popular Dishes: Clam Bake Cioppino and Clam Chowder.

Casa Sanchez (250 Napoleon Ave.)
Casa Sanchez is not exactly a restaurant unless you consider chips and salsa a full meal.  Plausible.  Since 1920 Casa Sanchez has been supplying San Francisco with locally made, organic products.  Roberto and Isabel Sanchez came to San Francisco and introduced the first mechanized tortilla factory.  It is now in the top 10 highest-grossing companies in San Francisco. Most Popular Dishes: Thick and Crispy or Thin and Light Tortilla Chips paired with Hot Salsa Roja, Pico de Gallo Chunky Salsa, Real Guacamole.

Castro / Noe Valley

The Sausage Factory (517 Castro St.)
Castro? Sausage Factory? What? Family-owned since 1968, The Sausage Factory specializes in crafting homemade pizzas with fresh dough.  If you are looking for a classic, home-style Italian meal, look no further.  And if you are looking for sausages, also look no further.  Most Popular Dishes: Try their special pizzas and veal entrees. More Information.


Hang Ah Tea Room (1 Pagoda Place) 
Located across the street from the Chinatown YMCA, behind a basketball court in the Pagoda Place alleyway, you will find the dim sum gem that is Hang Ah Tea Room.  Enjoy dim sum with pastries and small eats made from scratch, freshly brewed tea, and friends and family. Most Popular Dishes: Cha Siu Bao (BBQ Pork Buns) and Rabbit-Shaped Siu Mai (Shrimp Dumplings).

Civic Center / Hayes Valley

Tommy’s Joynt (1101 Geary Blvd.)
Established in 1947, Tommy’s Joynt is one of San Francisco’s original Hofbraus and remains steadfast in changing times.  This is a perfect place to hop in, grab hot food and a cold beer, and hop out and continue with your adventures. Most Popular Dishes: Buffalo Stew, Lamb Shank, and BBQ Brisket.

Embarcadero / Financial District

Tadich Grill (240 California St.)
Tadich Grill is California’s oldest operating restaurant to date and has come a long way from being a Gold Rush coffee stand in 1849.  Your great-great-grandfather may have left a footprint in this historic establishment, along with the likes of Hollywood legends Jack Nicholson, Cary Grant, and Groucho Marx. Most Popular Dishes: Cioppino and Oysters Rockefeller. More Information.

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman’s Grotto (9 Fisherman’s Wharf)
Opened in 1935, this was the first restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf and has been partially responsible for the popularity of the area.  After a day on the Wharf, head to the Grotto for lobster rolls or try the Dungeness crab. Most Popular Dishes: Dungeness Crab, Lobster Rolls. More Information.

Sabella & La Torre (2809 Taylor St.)
Upon arriving in San Francisco from Sicily in 1927, Luciano Sabella and Antoine La Torre took their crab fishing skills to the market.  As popularity rose, their crab stand became a full-fledged restaurant that caters to locals, tourists, and customers worldwide. Most Popular Dishes: Clam Chowder Bread Bowl, Crab Sandwich.

Marina / Pacific Heights

Balboa Café (3199 Fillmore St.)
Established in 1913, Balboa Café is one of the oldest saloons in San Francisco, and continues to be an elegant place to relax in timeless tradition.  Old and elegant can also be said about the patrons who frequent here; beware of cougars on the prowl.  Come here for brunch, dinner and drinks in between. Most Popular Dishes: Balboa Burger on Baguette. 

Mission District

Cha Cha Cha/Original McCarthy’s (2327 Mission St.)
The Original McCarthy’s opened in 1933 on the first day the Prohibition ended. Forget happy hour; can we say happy day?  This historical local treat has a proud Irish heritage with a Cuban fusion.  Most Popular Dishes: Cajun Shrimp in Spicy Cream Sauce and Fried Platanos Maduros (Fried Plantains).

Nob Hill

House of Prime Rib (1906 Van Ness Ave.)
Anthony Bourdain had no reservations about how he felt about this meaty heaven.  No stranger to the phrase “I could die happy here,” House of Prime Rib raises the bar high with their succulent marbled beef, which boasts of being the best beef in the market at the top 2%.  Too much meat?  Watch and be mesmerized when you order the salad bowl.  Most Popular Dishes: Prime Rib Cut, Salad Bowl, Yorkshire Pudding.

North Beach

Fior D’Italia (2237 Mason St.)
One cannot mention old-school, classic Italian food without thinking Fior D’Italia, located in the heart of North Beach.  Established in 1886, not only will Fior D’Italia fill your Italian taste buds, it has also been a center of Italian culture in the community. Most Popular Dishes: Osso Buco con Polenta (try practicing your Italian!). More Information.

Original Joe’s (601 Union St.)
This veteran Italian-American restaurant is a classic San Francisco dining experience.  With dark wood interior, red leather booths, and smooth cocktails, it’s like you jumped into a scene of “Mad Men.”  Oh yeah, can’t forget the awesome fireplace. Most Popular Dishes: Liver with Bacon and Onions, Spaghetti and Meatballs. More Information.

SOMA / Yerba Buena

Garden Court (2 New Montgomery St.)
Since 1909 Garden Court has been San Francisco’s staple for elegance and grandeur.  After the tragic 1906 earthquake, it rose from the ashes to provide a fantastic and large array of offerings of Sunday brunch, afternoon tea, and a place to host special events. Most Popular Dishes: Green Goddess Salad (Be sure to check their website for a traditional recipe!). More Information.


Thanh Long (4101 Judah St.)
Prepare the hot towels and bibs; it’s about to get real crabby.  If butter-roasted crab in pepper and garlic does not catch your eye, go see a crabtometrist.  Or you can try their tender shaken beef and garlic noodles.  Most Popular Dishes: Garlic Noodles, Roasted Dungeness Crab, Shaken Beef.

Union Square

John’s Grill (63 Ellis St.)
Take a trip back in time in this virtual museum, donned in authentic memorabilia, dark oak panels, and photos of San Francisco’s past.  John’s grill was a major setting in the American noir classic The Maltese Falcon for all you film fans. Most Popular Dishes: Sam Spade’s Lamb Chops and Jack LaLanne’s Salad. More Information.

Photo by Louis Raphael

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