Locations and owners have changed more than once since this old-timer started as a coffee stand on the waterfront in 1849, but the crowds keep coming. Generations of regulars advise that simple grills, sautés, and panfries are the best choices. Dishes are very classic and straightforward. Try the Dungeness crab cocktail, crab Louie, and cioppino during crab season (usually November to May), the Pacific halibut between January and May, and iconic San Francisco sand dabs
year-round. Happily, the old-fashioned house-made tartar sauce doesn't change with the seasons. There's a long counter full of seating, a few tables, and the coveted private booths (complete with a bell to summon the waiter). A long line of business types at noon is inevitable (late afternoon can be a better time to swing by if possible). The crusty, white-coated waiters are a throwback to another time, and the old-school bartenders serve up martinis as good as the mollusks. Finish the night with the Tadich rice custard pudding, topped with bourbon hard sauce.