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5 Famous Foods that Originated in San Francisco

5 Famous Foods that Originated in San Francisco


5 Famous Foods that Originated in San Francisco


5 Famous foods that Originated in San Francisco. There are hundreds of foods and dishes found around the US that share the special distinction of being quintessential and original regional fare, much like Philadelphia’s cheesesteak, Chicago’s deep dish pizza, and New Orleans’ Po’boy sandwiches. While these are some of the more commonly known dishes, every major city in the county can point to a few dishes that are deeply rooted in their culinary history. During a recent trip to the Bakery Museum at San Francisco’s famed Boudin Bakery, we discovered that San Francisco is home to many other foods that we enjoy around the country and the world, leading us to dig into the subject a bit more to find other foods that originate in the city. Here goes with the 5 Famous foods that Originated in San Francisco.


Sourdough Bread


Probably San Francisco’s most well-known culinary creation, sourdough bread can trace its roots all they way back the Gold Rush, where French baker IsodoreBoudin first utilized wild yeast found in the area in his recipe, which gave the loafs a tangy, “sour” taste. The bread quickly became a hit with locals, flocking to the small bakery everyday to get their freshly baked sourdough. Boudin’s maintains a bakery in the Fisherman’s Wharf district where they continue to honor the original recipe, making fresh sourdough that people across the country can enjoy.




Cioppino is a tomato-based seafood stew that became the staple dish of the sailors that frequented Fisherman’s Wharf. Initially created as a quick and easy way to utilize any leftover catch they had that day with other readily available ingredients (namely canned tomatoes and wine), it quickly became a preferred dish for the hungry sailors and fisherman to feast on after a long day on the waters. You can still find this dish served in seafood restaurants around the city and the US.


Irish Coffee


You can go into any bar across the world and order an Irish Coffee, a tasty cocktail consisting of Irish whiskey, hot coffee topped with cream. It might surprise you that the cocktail was initially introduced and popularized in the US at San Francisco’s Buena Vista Café. The story goes that a café employee first tried it at the Shannon Airport in Ireland, and then came back to SF to help perfect the recipe. The Buena Vista Café started serving the cocktail in 1952, and it has been a staple of their menu ever since.


Fortune Cookies


Fortune cookies have become synonymous with Chinese food over the years, but in actuality the after meal treat was created and first distributed in San Francisco. MakatoHagiwari, the landscaper and manager of Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden, first started handing out the cookies as early the late 1890’s as a thank you to patrons who visited the garden. The claim has not come without some controversy though. In 1983, a federal judge ruled against two other parties to name Mr. Hagiwara as the sole originator of the cookie.


Steam Beer


Although beer most certainly did not originate in San Francisco, a quite unique brewing technique does call the city home. San Francisco is where the Anchor Steam brewery can be found, continuing the tradition of having the crisp, foggy San Francisco air cool the beer down during the fermentation process that started all the way back in 1896. The term “steam” comes from the steam that would emanate from the vats once the air hit them. While it is Anchor Steam alone that holds the right to refer their refreshing brew as “steam beer”, you can find variations of the techniques in breweries across the US under the label “California common”.

5 Famous Foods that Originated in San Francisco

Article by Andrew Armstrong

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