The Buzz About the Old Clam House
7X7 - "San Francisco's Best Old-School Restaurants"
The Old Clam House is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurant in SF, it's been in its current location since 1861. We suggest you roll up your sleeves and get yourself a good bowl of their signature clam bake cioppino.
The Culture Trip - "The Top 10 Oldest Restaurants in San Francisco"
The Old Clam House, est. 1861
The Old Clam House has served food and beverages in the exact same place for over 150 years. This amazingly resilient restaurant was popular among local workers in the late 20th century and continues to be a hotspot for all kinds of San Franciscans. With its bar still consisting of the original structure, you can be sure that you’ll be enjoying your pint at a place filled with thousands of stories.
The Old Clam House, 299 Bayshore Boulevard, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 415 826 4880
THRILLIST - "11 Delicious Foods (and 1 Drink) Made Famous by San Francisco"
4. Sand dabs
THE SKINNY: These tender whitefish are considered something of a seafood secret, as the annual catch is small, and sand dabs are typically only served in California restaurants.
WHERE TO GET IT NOW: They have exceptionally fine scales, so they can be served whole and are best pan-fried. Try them that way at San Francisco’s oldest and most iconic restaurant, The Old Clam House.
SF WEEKLY - "Eat This: Garlic Bread at the Old Clam House"
The Old Clam House is classic San Francisco. In fact, it’s one of the oldest restaurants in the city, having been established in 1861 along what was once the edge of the Bay. Yet when people think of quintessential San Francisco restaurants, the Old Clam House seems to be forgotten (probably because post-1906 earthquake fill pushed the shoreline two miles away).
A quick poll yielded two astounding facts: Nine out of 10 people had never been, and six of the 10 hadn’t even heard of it. If you happen to fall in either category, make a trip for a glimpse into San Francisco’s history and order one of the best treats I’ve had in a long time: Garlic Cheese Bread, “chorizo spiced."
After being greeted by a shot glass of warm, salty clam broth — the Old Clam House’s obligatory amuse bouche — I perused the classic seafood menu. All of your favorites are there: fish and chips, cioppino, and clam chowder (to name a few). What better accompaniment to sop up all of that cioppino goodness than an order of garlic bread? Done and done.
A cast iron skillet hits the table and at first I’m confused. What did I order? A rich, creamy pink sauce surrounds an island of a half loaf of crusty, cheesy sourdough bread. I rip off a piece and dunk in the ooey, gooey cheesy sauce that is studded with ground chorizo, paprika and coriander. It is insanely delicious and the star of the meal. If this is stuff that writes history, then it is right at home.
SheKnows - "Road trip! The must-try foods in 10 great foodie cities - San Francisco: Classic California clam bake"
Ah, the City by the Bay. Promise yourself you won't make it past the Golden Gate Bridge without a bowl of The Old Clam House's Original Clam Bake Cioppino in your belly. Made with an unreasonable amount of delicious seafood — clams, mussels, crab, shrimp, calamari and fish — the cioppino is a lesser-known San Fran classic from the city's oldest restaurant in the same location, dating back to 1861. Bring up cioppino among San Franciscans, and you're bound to start a healthy debate, but locals still endorse The Old Clam House's cioppino and love the restaurant's new updates.
Tastemade - "10 Old School Restaurants We Hope Never Close"
While it’s fun to lust after all the shiny newcomers, here are 10 old-school San Francisco restaurants that we hope never close. Pay them their dues. As they say, use 'em or lose 'em.
Click here to view video.
THRILLIST - "The 21 Best Seafood Shacks in America"
It's summertime, the livin' is easy, and seafood shacks are throwing open their doors. There's no better way to consume the fruits of the ocean than with a paper plate on your lap, the wind in your hair, and creaky floorboards beneath your feet. What the following seafood joints lack in ritz they more than make up for in character, legend, and, of course, lobsters, shrimp, crabs, and various other delicious lower life forms. Forget restaurants, and hit our round-up of the 21 best shacks.
THE OLD CLAM HOUSE
What you're getting: Garlic-roasted Dungeness crab or the cioppino.
It started in 1861, so you can excuse the fact that the neighborhood is more industrial now and off the water and any tourist trap path. But that just makes it all the better when you spot the giant clam sitting on the roof, and you go in and see the blue- and white-checked tablecloths, and get that sourdough kettle bread with hot clam broth to dip it in. The menu is big, but really you have two choices: get the garlic-roasted Dungeness crab, or opt for the local cioppino, thick with mussels, squid, crab, and what seems like infinity fish. Oh, and no trip is complete without their own Milwaukee steam beer (and maybe a little more of that bread).
SF GATE - "5 S.F. restaurants we wish were still around ... And a few more San Francisco classics, still serving."
THRILLIST - "9 Old-School SF Restaurants That We Hope Never Close"
While Tadich Grill is the oldest SF restaurant, The Old Clam House's bar area is part of the original structure, making it San Francisco’s oldest restaurant in the same location (technicality!) since 1861. (Tadich Grill moved around a lot and these things matter, people!) Grab a seat in the heated and enclosed patio and order either the Clam Bake Cioppino (which The Old Clam House is famous for) or the The Original Golden Gate Clam Chowder, whose recipe dates back to when it was called The Oakdale Bar & Clam House. So, like, a long-ass time ago. And yes, you can get the latter in a bread bowl. This is classic SF, after all.
Tastemade - Old Clam House video
Click here to view video.
THRILLIST - "The Most Iconic Restaurants in Every State (and DC)"
The Old Clam House
San Francisco (Est. 1861)
With respect to the Tadich Grill in SF and Musso & Frank’s in Hollywood, our choice is this legendary spot in Bayview. Anyone who has spent time playing soccer on Silver Ave or driving down Bayshore Boulevard or just living around SF knows the Old Clam House’s iconic sign and that giant clam sitting on the side of the roof and the fact that it’s the oldest restaurant in the same location in SF (again, apologies to Tadich). But more people should know about their incredible clam bake cioppino and the amazing kettle bread they bring out with hot clam juice and their own “Milwaukee steam beer”, which our SF-based editor swears by.
7X7 - "Foodie Agenda: Coffee, Pastries, Clam Chowder, & More"
SOUP OF THE MONTH CLUB :
"As Bay Area temperatures cool down, stop by Old Clam House restaurant to warm up with their tasty, 154-year-old recipe. The Original Golden Gate Clam Chowder will be served throughout the month of January in a fresh sourdough bread bowl, baked daily in a cast iron kettle. In the off-chance that your clam craving isn’t satisfied, the roadhouse restaurant will also be serving complimentary clam juice shots as an aperitif!"
7X7 - "San Francisco's Best Old-School Restaurants"
"With iconic dishes, secret recipes, and unique atmospheres, these old school spots have stood the test of time and taste.
The Old Clam House is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurant in SF, it's been in its current location since 1861. We suggest you roll up your sleeves and get yourself a good bowl of their signature clam bake cioppino."
INSIDE SCOOP SF - "A San Francisco Classic: The Old Clam House"
The cioppino, a great version of a San Francisco classic.
"With roots back to 1861, the Old Clam House is the oldest restaurant in San Francisco that’s been in operation in the same location.
Located on Oakdale Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard, in an out-of-the-way location in an industrial area between the Bayview and Bernal Heights, it can easily fall under most people’s radar, particularly tourists who seem to have an appreciation for these classic places.
For many years this seafood restaurant struggled and many people expected to read its obituary. However, three years ago it was taken over and remodeled by Jerry Dal Bozzo and his wife, Jennifer. They kept the cluttered, classic look, added blue-and-white checked oil cloth table coverings and turned what was once a storage area into a glassed-in patio.
Dal Bozzo, who owns eight restaurant, including the Stinking Rose which he opened in 1991, the Crab House on Pier 39, the Franciscan on Fisherman’s Wharf and Calzone’s, is known for showing love to places that have become a little long in the tooth.
Why pull a tooth when the restaurant can be cleaned up, modernized slightly and be turned into something beautiful? Dal Bozzo has proven to be adept at gently bringing his places into the 21st century. In this case he also modernized the menu and added sizzling seafood platters with a bubbling ramekin of garlic butter that has become his signature, and garlic roast crab. However, he kept the tradition of offering each table a shot of cloudy, intense clam broth along with sourdough bread.
He also retained the clam chowder, a recipe that goes back to when the restaurant was called the Oakdale Bar and Clam House. It has definitely stood the test of time and it was even better when we thinned the thick stew with a little of the clam broth."
INSIDE SCOOP SF - "A San Francisco Classic: The Old Clam House"
San Francisco Heritage has announced the fourth — and final — round of San Francisco businesses that qualify for its “Legacy Bars & Restaurants” list, bringing the total number to 100.
The honorees are defined as “iconic establishments that contribute to the culture, character, and lore of San Francisco. Furthermore, they must be also be at least 40 years old and feature “distinctive architecture or interior design. (The Old Clam House is #57)
INSIDE SCOOP SF - "Old Clam House - 150 years in same S.F. location"
Ladies and gentlemen, let us raise a cup of clam juice for a salty toast to a San Francisco institution celebrating its 150th anniversary this week by throwing a party for itself.
This is the Old Clam House, which opened for business in December 1861, when Abraham Lincoln was president. It is the oldest San Francisco restaurant still operating on the same location. The Tadich Grill (1849) is older, but it's moved several times.
You may not have heard of the Old Clam House, since it is located at the corner of Oakdale Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard, between Bernal Heights and the Bayview, a corner of the city that is mostly industrial.
The Old Clam House is famous for not being famous, a sort of secret hideout full of old pictures, decent food and lots of old-time atmosphere.
There must be a hundred places like that in San Francisco - nice, quiet, old restaurants where everybody looks kind of familiar and there's never a guy with a convention badge around his neck.
The Old Clam House used to be a hangout for Herb Caen and his pals, but recently it had slipped a bit; just last summer Jerry Dal Bozzo and his wife, Jennifer, bought it and gave it a new lease on life. Both of them are native San Franciscans (he's from North Beach, she's from Noe Valley) and they were looking for an old restaurant to restore.
"I thought it would be fun," Jerry Dal Bozzo said over coffee the other afternoon. They liked the look of the place. 'I liked the history,' Jennifer said.
Everybody who eats there gets a shot of clam juice as soon as they sit down. They also get a shot of history. The place began as the Oakdale Bar & Clam House; the owners were Ambrose Zurfluh and his wife, Anna. They served a schooner of steam beer for a nickel and a nice, free lunch - soup, eggs, sliced meat. The house specialty was clams and oysters out of the bay.
What is now Bayshore Boulevard was really on the edge of the bay - a winding saltwater slough and marshland was right out the Clam House's back door. The marsh was filled in with rubble from the 1906 earthquake and the neighborhood later had a lot of lumber yards. Butchertown, a now-vanished meatpacking district, was not far away.
The main road out of town ran right by the door. In the old days there was a string of roadhouses a bit like the Clam House all the way from downtown to the 16-Mile House in Millbrae. Until the freeway opened in 1951, Bayshore Boulevard was Highway 101.
After that, the Old Clam House became a neighborhood place. Restaurant critics came once in a while. They liked the atmosphere; the food earned faint praise. The great California food revolution of the 1980s passed the place by.
Jerry Dal Bozzo owns eight other restaurants, including the Stinking Rose and Calzone in North Beach, the Franciscan at Fisherman's Wharf and Salito's in Sausalito. A year or so ago, he saw an opportunity in the Old Clam House.
"I didn't want to retire," he said. "Retired guys play golf. This is my golf."
He said he and his wife spent between $200,000 and $300,000 fixing up the place. "I wanted to get a San Francisco look to it," he said.
The result is a bit like a modern idea of an old-time restaurant - lots of old pictures, pressed metal ceilings, big fans, a few booths with curtains. "For privacy," he said.
The menu has changed. It's more modern. More expensive, but not too expensive. They still have a Golden Gate clam chowder ($6.95 a bowl), made from a 19th century Oakdale Bar recipe. A whole crab with "secret garlic sauce" runs $34.95.
So far, the change seems to have worked. The place is crowded, especially on weekend nights. I had a quiet lunch there myself the other day. Not bad.
It is open every day, except for the 150th birthday party Thursday evening. Invitation only.
NORTHSIDE SAN FRANCISCO - "Get Across Town: The Old Clam House"
"The clam chowder doesn't rely on flour, but is thickened with potatoes (the method my mom used) and is chock-full of fresh, briny clams. Your choice of sand dabs, basa, salmon, shrimp, or chicken can be prepared five ways: lemon butter caper sauce; spicy cioppino sauce with olives; toy box tomatoes, arugula, pangrattato and olves; seaweed soy ginger glaze; or spicy red-pepper-onion-bacon sauce.
My favorite was the clams escargot, a clever play on the French classic that substitutes clams for snails ... I love the Bourguignon preparation - how can you go wrong with pools of garlicky butter? ... so this is a dish I'll be dreaming about until the next time I get to the Old Clam House."
BERNALWOOD - "In Praise of the New Old Clam House on Bayshore"
“All in all, I’m a fan. Though I sure some old-timers will protest, I think the new Old Clam House fills an important niche in the Bernal restaurant ecosystem, in that there is a place in our little world for a reasonably-priced establishment where you can get a table without too much fuss, along with a stiff drink and a good piece of fish in an atmosphere that feels an awful lot like the kind of restaurant one might find expect to find somewhere along Route 46 in Clifton, New Jersey… and I mean that as high praise.”
THE POTRERO VIEW - "In Praise of the New Old Clam House on Bayshore"
"If it’s been a while since you visited The Old Clam House – San Francisco’s oldest same location restaurant, since 1861 – it may be time to try the establishment again. Much has been written about the history of the place. Originally called The Oakdale Bar and Clam House, it sat at what’s now the corner of Bayshore and Oakdale avenues for 150 years. A century and a half ago it was a waterfront establishment, perched along aside Islais Creek, and accessible to downtown San Francisco via two miles of wooden plank road.
Over the years a number of different owners have come and gone. Prior to its more recent makeover it was known as a quirky place full of 49er memorabilia, old license plates on the walls, tractor seat bar stools and a car hood over the bar. Dark and dingy, it was popular with locals and regulars who knew what to expect time and time again.
Earlier this year, The Old Clam House was taken over by Jerry Dal Bozzo and family, who redid the Cliff House in 1973, and is known for such North Beach institutions as Bobo’s, The Stinking Rose and Calzone’s. Dal Bozzo has lightened-up both the restaurant and its dishes. Fried calamari is off the menu, as is Clam Bake and the Lazy Man Cioppino, replaced by a smaller Seafood Cioppino, changes that that may not go over well with regulars used to their favorite dishes. Off the walls is much of the character – clutter – that served as the restaurant’s ambiance. A new indoor patio has been added just off the bar area, which is the original room dating from 1861.
A few traditions remain, such as greeting each customer with warm clam juice – think Mizo soup – Acme sourdough bread and Strauss butter. The new menu, featuring “adjusted” prices, is laid out clearly, and has decadent seafood offerings, including crab, shrimp, mussels, oysters and of course clams; steamed, casino and escargot style. A lunch suggestion would be to share many of the appetizers and then split a delicious crab sandwich, served warm on a fresh roll with avocado and onion; yum!
There’ll undoubtably be grumbles of what used to be, but the only constant in life is change. The Old Clam House needed an experienced restaurateur to continue to honor a San Francisco establishment. Give it a try."