Suppose you had some out-of-town visitors, and they asked you to take them to a "traditional, authentic San Francisco restaurant." You could do no better than to take them to Tadich Grill, which is not only San Francisco's, but also California's, oldest restaurant. But you need to warn them: Tadich Grill takes no reservations and is usually packed at lunchtime and dinnertime, Monday through Saturday.
Your guests may very well have to stand in line waiting for a table. If they are famous, important, or influential people, they will still have to wait, and may very well be standing next to some of the city's business or political leaders, or other local celebrities.
Tadich Grill Today
When guests walk into Tadich Grill today, they'll see on the right, a long wooden bar stretching from the front door back to the kitchen. The stools at the bar are always occupied with diners. On the left side, a row of tables with starched white tablecloths outline the bar. On each one there is a bowl of lemon quarters. Further into the restaurant, built into the wall, are alcoves with booths large enough for six patrons. Dark wood paneling with large mirrors cover the walls and Art Deco brass and milk-glass light fixtures hang from the fifteen-foot ceiling.
Tadich Grill is essentially a seafood restaurant and has been for over 166 years. Twice a day (and sometimes all afternoon), the place bustles as waiters serve aromatic dishes bearing last night's catch, broiled, sautéed, or grilled. It is noisy, yes. But unlike some popular spots, it's not so noisy that you can't have a conversation with your companions. If you'd been to Tadich Grill a century ago, it would hardly have looked any different. Back then, customers left happy and returned frequently, just like they still do.