Tadich Grill, San Francisco
A former boss of mine used to talk a lot about the Tadich Grill (240 California Street, 391-1849) whenever we went to San Francisco. I remembered him saying that it was a very old restaurant, but it was only tonight - sooo many years later - that I finally found out why he liked it so much. It turned out to be serving some of my beloved local seafood, all with sourdough bread and beer on tap.
I knew that we were in a good spot when a bowl of fresh lemon quarters was sitting there on the old wooden tables. I wanted to try so many things on the menu; in the end, I settled on a quintessential San Francisco seafood dish: cioppino. It was a touch salty (and much smaller than I was expecting), but the shellfish was fresh and the broth was aromatic with all of the wine that they used.
This is easily one of my favorite places now too - I just love its character and how down to earth it is. It doesn't matter that they don't take American Express nor reservations. In the worst case, I can always just do an early walk-in or plop myself down at the counter for some beer and seafood.