San Francisco’s Iconic Tadich Grill Opens in DC

Take a look inside the first-ever spinoff in 166 years.

San Francisco's iconic Tadich Grill opens its first sister restaurant in downtown DC. Photography by Jeff Elkins

One of the biggest fall restaurant openings is here: Tadich Grill debuts today in downtown DC, marking the first expansion for the iconic San Francisco eatery in 166 years.

Tadich co-owners Steve and Michael Buich—whose family members have worked at the flagship since 1912—partnered with Icon, a Seattle-based company that specializes in expanding legendary restaurants; the group is also behidn DC’s Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab. Though the idea was never to duplicate Tadich—impossible given its history—the team hopes to capture what’s made it a special place for over a century.

“You can’t replicate the original,” says managing partner Rick Powers. “But we wanted to move the heart and soul to DC.”

Here’s what to know before you go.

Core Tadich traits carry over to the new location, including white-coated servers and the famous bloody Marys.

The sourdough bread is flown in from San Francisco.

One of the telling signs of the Tadich’s effort to embody the original starts with the bread. Partially-baked sourdough rolls are shipped by air from San Francisco’s Boudin bakery—founded around the same time as Tadich—and finished for each service in special ovens approved by the head baker. Though complimentary slices begin each meal, Powers says the cost is about one-and-a-half times higher than in SF. Just don’t expect the bread to be served piping hot. Slices are always room temperature at the original Tadich, having been baked fresh each morning, and so it will be in Washington.

A takeout window will offer seafood cocktails and sandwiches at lunch, and curb-side delivery for dinner.

Hard-to-find West Coast seafood fills the menu.

Homesick West Coasters will welcome the sight of dungeness crab, bay shrimp, petrale sole, sand dabs, and other fish and shellfish that are uncommon finds around Washington. That’s not to say the kitchen forgoes local catches. Chef Wil Going added East Coast-only dishes to the menu, including pan-fried soft-shell crabs and Chesapeake-style seafood stew. Can’t decide which direction to go? Try the dueling Crabcakes Coast to Coast appetizer, with both a dungeness and blue crab cake.

Seafood “baked en casserole” includes items like this crab and prawns a la monza with paprika béchamel and mushrooms.

Don’t overlook the seafood casseroles.

The menu (sample) follows in the grand American restaurant tradition of being large; over 100 dishes grace the pages. It’s tempting to gravitate towards the San Francisco classics—Louie salads, cioppino—or Tadich signatures, such as the hangtown fry (essentially an omelet with crispy oysters and bacon), or seafood and steaks from the mesquite charcoal broiler. Still, Powers says not to overlook the seemingly humbler lineup of seafood “baked en casserole,” a lesser-known specialty. Think comfort food of the sea, such as crab and prawns baked with paprika bechamel and mushrooms over rice.

The dining counter (right) is a prime people-watching perch, just like at the original.

The counter is the place to be.

The mahogany-ensconced dining room offers nearly double the seating as the original, about 170 spots, serviced by a team of white-coated waiters. Some might consider the semi-private booths to be the best seats in the house, though don’t overlook the dining counter. Like in San Francisco, a row of stools extends from the bar for diners, and is poised near the entrance for prime people-watching.

A bowl of lemon wedges are set at every table.

Servers will deliver cioppino to your car.

A separate takeout window will open in the coming weeks, serving boardwalk-style seafood cocktails, Louie salads, crab grilled cheese, and other options for a quick lunch that can be eaten on the patio or taken to-go. Feeling lazy come dinnertime? Call in a a meal order by phone, and a runner will deliver it curb-side to your vehicle.

Traditional American dining means cloths on every table and a large menu of 100-plus dishes.

Bloody Marys are served around-the-clock.

The bar focuses on classic cocktails—martinis, Manhattans—as well as the house signature: the bloody Mary. The drink is a longtime staple of the restaurant, and not just for weekend afternoons. The mix is poured from bottles for consistency–and also for sale to customers–but you can ask the bartenders to kick it up with more horseradish and Tabasco.

The menu boasts a number of hard-to-find items from the West Coast, including dungeness crab and petrale sole.

The century-old “no reservation”policy has been tweaked.

The San Francisco Tadich is as famous for its no-reservation policy—and long wait times—but the seating policy has been tweaked for DC. Half of the tables will be left open for walk-in dining, while the other half may be reserved by calling the restaurant. Once warm weather arrives in 2016, an outdoor patio will hold another 50 seats.

Tadich Grill DC. 1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-638-1849. Open for dinner Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11. Lunch starting soon.

The mahogany-clad dining room is nearly double the size as the SF original.
Another popular seafood casserole with shellfish, mushrooms, and curry with rice.
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.