The City of San Francisco is known for iconic views, distinctive Victorian architecture, comfortable year-round weather, and its colorful history. However, even a surprising number of locals aren’t aware that “The City by the Bay” was the birthplace of many of today’s famous foods and drinks. Dig in to the following list of 9 foods born in San Francisco, and at least a few might come as a surprise.


1.) Sourdough Bread

Sourdough bread is one of those uniquely San Francisco creations, pioneered by French baker Isidore Boudin and his family. Boudin struck his own form of gold in during the Gold Rush when he discovered that the wild yeasts native to the region gave their French bread a distinct “sour” tang. The bread had folks lining up around their small bakery waiting for the freshly baked loaves. While sourdough bread has since spread across the nation, Boudin’s continues to operate in San Francisco to this day. [Image Credit: Bistro Boudin]


2.) The Martini

Although the exact origins of the Martini continue to be hotly debated, many trace the lineage of the world famous cocktail to San Francisco, where the recipe was featured prominently in the bartending manual of Jerry Thomas. Thomas was tending bar at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco in the late 1800’s. However roughly 35 miles to the Northeast, the City of Martinez also claims credit as the birthplace of the Martini. [Image Credit: Ralf Roletschek / fahrradmonteur.de]


3.) Joe’s Special

The Joe’s Special is a staple on any short order breakfast cook’s menu. Popularized in the 1920’s in San Francisco, Joe’s Special features scrambled eggs, garlic, spinach and ground beef. According to Kyle Phillips, Italian Food Expert for About Food, while San Francisco is agreed upon as the location of the dish’s creation, there are multiple theories as to who exactly created the Joe’s Special.

Some say this famous San Francisco specialty was devised by a San Francisco chef as a variation on the Italian frittata. Others insist it was created as an after-hours snack by dance-band musicians of the 1920’s (My Dad went with this one). A third theory attributes the dish to miners who frequented the city’s riotous Barbary Coast district in the 1850’s.”

[Image Credit: Road Food]


4.) The Mai Tai

The tropical drink, which is a mixture of rum, curacao liqueur, and lime, was a creation of the proprietor of the one-time San Francisco restaurant, Trader Vic’s.Popularized by owner Victor Bergeron during the “Tiki culture” fad of the 50’sand 60’s, the drink helped put the restaurant on the map. Trader Vic’s restaurants can now be found across the US and overseas. [Image Credit: Flickr / duluoz cats]


5.) Irish Coffee

Although a variation of it had been served in Ireland for many years, the United States was introduced to Irish coffee at San Francisco’s Buena Vista Café. After sampling it in Ireland’s Shannon Airport, travel writer and then Café employee Stanton Delaplane helped recreate the cocktail with the bar owners and officially started serving it in 1952. It has since become a staple and is still served in the Café to this day. [Image Credit: The Buena Vista Cafe]


6.) Crab Cioppino

Developed in the late 1800’s by the large contingent Italian fisherman in San Francisco, Cioppino is a stew that utilizes different regional seafood with a tomato and wine sauce. Originally prepared on boats out at sea, the recipe eventually made its way into the various Italian restaurants in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. [Image Credit: Food Network / the Best Christmas Recipes]


7.) The Fortune Cookie

Now a fixture at Asian restaurants across the US, the fortune cookie was first served in San Francisco by Makoto Hagiwara, a Japanese immigrant and landscaper who developed and maintained the Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park. He often handed the cookies out to visitors as a thank you for visiting the garden. [Image Credit: Yinyang Mother / Fortune Cookie Wisdom]


8.) The Popsicle

In 1905, 11-year-old Frank Epperson of San Francisco left a mixture of water and powdered soda flavoring outside his home overnight. Upon the discover of his concoction the next morning, complete with a stirring stick locked in the middle of the frozen liquid, Frank instantly had a blueprint for the soon-to-be famous popsicle. Years later he began selling the snacks at the nearby Neptune Beach amusement park in Alameda. Today the Popsicle has become the quintessential summertime treat for Americans. [Image Credit: Today I Found Out]


9.) Crab Louie

The Crab Louie salad, made with Crab meat, tomato asparagus, hard boiled eggs and served on a bed of iceberg lettuce with Louis dressing, can be traced back to San Francisco as early as 1910. The recipe first appeared as “Crab Leg a la Louis” in a cookbook by Victor Hirtzler, the head chef at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. [Image Credit: Wikimedia / Waspstar]