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Food & Drink

Guide To The Bay Area’s Historic Restaurants

May 3, 2012 1:35 PM

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Take a bite out of history and journey to discover some of the Bay Area’s oldest roadhouses and restaurants, many that have been in business since before the 1900’s. This region has been serving up delicious and gourmet food since the Gold Rush, and these spots are keeping the Bay Area’s gourmet tradition alive.

Wing’s Chinese Restaurant
131 E Jackson Street
San Jose, CA 95112
(408) 294-3303
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The only Chinese restaurant in San Jose’s historic Japantown, Wing’s has been around since 1925. Still family run, you won’t want to miss the famous Mandarin Chicken. Eye on the Bay’s Brian Hackney, by the way, is a big fan of the Sweet & Sour Pork.

Peter’s Bakery
3108 Alum Rock Ave
San Jose, CA 95127
(408) 258-3529
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Peter’s Bakery in San Jose is especially known for their Burnt Almond Cake. A white cake, filled with custard and topped with roasted almonds, you can also find a version at Dick’s Bakery in Willow Glen. Turns out, Dick was a protégé of Peter. And their Burnt Almond Cakes live on.

CJ Olson Cherries
348 W. El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(800) 738-2464
www.cjolsoncherries.com

This produce stand has been around since 1919, which might explain why their recipe for cherry pie is famous in these parts. Pick up a pie and see for yourself why CJ Olson has been around for over 90 years.

La Foret
21747 Bertram Rd
San Jose, CA 95120
(408) 997-3458
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Today, this former boarding house is home to La Foret, an exquisite French restaurant named, appropriately enough, for its lush forest surroundings. As one of San Jose’s finest dining establishments, La Foret carries on the time-honored tradition of hospitality that began in early California more than 100 years ago.

Casa Orinda
20 Bryant Way
Orinda, CA 94563
(925) 254-2981
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Walking into the 78-year old Casa Orinda is like walking into a cowboy museum. The dinner tables are branded with actual local cattle brands, the restaurant features a vintage gun collection and the walls are covered with cowboy history, creating a unique and cozy ambiance. Thuy’s Pick: the fried chicken.

Hotel Mac
50 Washington Avenue
Point Richmond, CA 94801
(510) 233-0576
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Point Richmond’s The Hotel Mac is a charming three-story, red brick building built in 1911 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Today, The Hotel Mac offers deluxe suites and exquisite rooms, as well as a world-class restaurant and cozy bar.

Fenton’s Creamery
4226 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611
(510) 658-7000
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This ice cream emporium serves up hand-crafted ice creams and spectacular sundaes. But it’s not just dessert at the famous Fenton’s. A full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu is available at this blast from the past.

The Old Clam House
299 Bayshore Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94124
(415) 826-4880
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This old school favorite is located in the Bayview District of San Francisco and has been home to the city’s best clam back since 1861. The seafood is fresh and the clams are the thing to order, but don’t skip the garlic bread, a fan favorite. Sit at the bar for a taste of old San Francisco personality, and check out the joint’s history which covers the walls in photos, signs and a century of clams.

Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto
1919 Fourth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710
(510) 845-7771
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Spenger’s Fresh Fish Grotto is located in the heart of Berkeley’s vibrant Fourth Street Shopping District. Home of “The Crabby Chef Competition” held each October, and their own Seafood Festival, Spenger’s has been Berkeley’s seafood source since 1890.

Fior D’Italia
2237 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 986-1886
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As the saying goes, “The Fior isn’t the best because it is the oldest, it is the oldest because it’s the best!” Since 1886, “America’s Oldest Italian Restaurant” has been serving up some of San Francisco’s favorite Italian food. Originally opened to serve clients of a North Beach bordello, Fior’s popular with just about everyone these days. Don’t miss the Osso Buco.

The Vans
815 Belmont Avenue
Belmont, CA 94002
(650) 591-6525
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It’s all about the views at Van’s. A Peninsula tradition since 1947, Van’s is serving up fabulous fare in an historical landmark. Soak in breathtaking scenery of San Francisco Bay while you kick back in this Belmont beauty.

Tadich Grill
240 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 391-1849
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This famous Financial District seafood spot has been a San Francisco staple since 1849. (Yep, 1849!) Real regulars sit at the bar and dig into traditional San Francisco seafood favorites, particularly the local classic, cioppino.

The Cliff House
1090 Point Lobos
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 386-3330
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The world-famous Cliff House is a crown jewel of the largest urban national park in the United States. Hike the amazing Lands End trails, take a stroll along Ocean Beach, or explore the famous Sutro Bath, all a stone’s throw from the Cliff House. And be sure to stop in at the Camera Obscura where ancient technology gives you a close-up view of Seal Rocks before you dine in one of two restaurants; the breathtaking Sutro’s Bar & Lounge or the more casual upstairs Bistro. Sunday’s Champagne Brunch is a popular pick, so plan ahead.

7-Mile House
2800 Bayshore Blvd
Brisbane, CA 94005
(415) 467-2343
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7 Mile House was built around 1853 as a stagecoach stop, exactly 7 miles from the San Francisco Ferry Building, making it the Bay Area’s last original “mile house” left in its original location. In over a century and a half, 7 Mile House has evolved from its rebel days in the 1800’s to a trucker/biker hangout and to a popular sports gambling joint in the 80’s. These days, grab a signature burger and check out a game on the big screen, as you soak up some history in Brisbane.

The Swiss Hotel
18 West Spain Street
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 938-2884
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Since 1842, this Sonoma staple has been serving everyone from gold miners to tourists. These days, you’ll find traditional Northern Italian fare and American classics. But don’t skip a trip to the bar, the only place where you can order “The Glariffee,” a chilled version of an Irish Coffee.

Horizons
558 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 331-3232
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With spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, Sausalito’s Horizons is a gorgeous spot to enjoy lunch, dinner or an afternoon drink. But this spot has a rockin’ history. Formerly The Trident, Janis Joplin had her own table, hobnobbing with stars of the 1960’s and 70’s.

Ready to bite into another foodie adventure? Head over to Eye on the Bay’s Food & Drink section and discover the best of the Bay.

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