Cioppino’s San Francisco: “Chip-een” Good Times!

Looking for the best cioppino in San Francisco? Look no further than Cioppino’s in San Francisco! In fact, Cioppino’s so confident about their cioppino, they decided over a 100 years ago, to name the restaurant of the same name!

Cioppino's San Francisco
Cioppino’s San Francisco
Al fresco dining at Cioppino's San Francisco
Al fresco dining at Cioppino’s San Francisco
Italian-styled decorations inside Cioppino's San Francisco
Italian-styled decorations inside Cioppino’s San Francisco
Kate posing with the bread and menu at Cioppino's San Francisco
Kate posing with the bread and menu at Cioppino’s San Francisco

The Story of Cioppino’s San Francisco

If you hadn’t already know, cioppino is an Italian-American seafood stew that originated in San Francisco. As the story goes, fishermen in the early 1900s at Fisherman’s Wharf, San Fracisco, would come together to have a festive meal at the end of each day. Someone would go around with a bucket and say “Chip in! Chip in!”, asking fellow fishermen to provide seafood ingredients for the stew. One would toss in a nice fat fish caught that day while another would toss in a Dungeness crab and still another would toss in some herbs and vegetables. As Cioppino’s version goes, the word “Chip In” would always end with a vowel, which resulted in, you’ve guessed it…

Chip-een-o“! Or cioppino as we know it today!

Cioppino at Cioppino's San Francisco
Cioppino at Cioppino’s San Francisco

Amazing meal at Cioppino’s San Francisco!

We started our visit this time with 2 appetizers. Our friends at Cioppino’s recommended the Red Chili Shrimp & Calamari while we chose Local Dungeness Crab Cakes (always worth a try to differentiate great restaurants from the wannabes) and…we weren’t disappointed! 🙂

In fact, after trying out the Red Chili Shrimp and Calamari, we would strongly recommend anyone who dines at Cioppino’s to have that as an appetizer and here’s why…

Red Chili Shrimp & Calamari at Cioppino's San Francisco
Red Chili Shrimp & Calamari at Cioppino’s San Francisco

Firstly, the ingredients were FRESH! The shrimps and calamari were firm to the bite, slowly releasing the sweet freshness of the sea as you enjoy each mouthful of this dish. Definitely, one of the freshest seafood we’ve tasted in SF. But secondly and most importantly, the sauce was out-of-this-world awesome!

According to the menu,

Cioppino's San Francisco Menu
Cioppino’s San Francisco Menu

the shrimp and calamari are sauteed in a spicy chili sauce with garlic, white wine, bell peppers, onions and fresh herbs with gorgonzola crostini. But we think that there’s definitely some secret ingredient that’s not listed here and it keeps you coming back for more! Kate and I just couldn’t stop ourselves from slurping up every morsel of this fantastic dish. If you’re worried about the “spiciness”, it’s really not. A hint of chili that spices up the dish… An excellent appetizer, we’d say…

Dungeness Crab Cakes at Cioppino's San Francisco
Dungeness Crab Cakes at Cioppino’s San Francisco

As we continued with this internal struggle of not finishing up the entire plate of shrimp and calamari, another dish was served – the Dungeness Crab Cakes. For us, this dish differentiates the big boys from the wannabes. Why? Because of the cost involved in making this dish great.

If you’re not a restaurateur who is interested in serving great food on your menu, this dish would appear on the menu but be one of the worst on the menu. Not at Cioppino’s. They’re serious about their food.

As it turns out, the crab cakes were choke full of fresh Dungeness crab cakes on each bite. The outer layer was light and crisp. This is in contrast to wannabe restaurants where you’d probably taste more flour than the crab itself. A simple dish but delicious dish that can only be made well with lots of heart. Cioppino’s has certainly done it with their rendition of the crab cakes.

Lastly, the star of the show…the cioppino!

Cioppino @ Cioppino's San Francisco
Tom & Kate’s Cioppino @ Cioppino’s San Francisco – Bibs included!
Menu at Cioppino's San Francisco
Menu at Cioppino’s San Francisco

The Cioppino at Cioppino’s comes with a choice of the original style (whole crab legs) or with the crabmeat out of the shell. Having drove an hour prior to our arrival at Cioppino’s, a “restful” meal was the order of the day and sure enough, we went for the option of crabmeat out of the shell! :p Our waiter also took the initiative to separate the huge portion for us. What you’re seeing is just half of the whole deal. For an idea of how the entire serving of Cioppino is like, see the picture that says “Cioppino at Cioppino’s San Francisco”.

We have tried a few versions of this dish before and we’d have to admit that Cioppino’s cioppino comes out tops. Besides having the freshest ingredient, the tomato soup base is equally important. Cioppino’s rendition has chunky bits of freshly diced sweet-tasting tomatoes with each mouthful of the fresh seafood (which includes Dungeness crabs, clams, mussels, shrimps, calamari and snapper) which makes this dish irresistible.

Bear in mind that at this juncture, we already had the large portions of appetizers and breads. But that didn’t stop us from cleaning up this homemade comfort food of San Francisco!

To round off the meal, we had the in-house tiramisu…

Tiramisu at Cioppino's San Francisco
Tiramisu at Cioppino’s San Francisco

Loved how the base of the tiramisu was infused with the liquer while the light fluffy topping of mascarpone added another dimension to the taste and texture of this dish. Finished off in seconds. Literally.

Conclusion

We’re really serious about our strong recommendations for the Red Chili Shrimp & Calamari as well as the Cioppino. In fact, don’t make a trip to San Francisco without trying out these dishes at the original birth place of San Francisco’s comfort food.

Where else but Cioppino’s?

About Cioppino’s San Francisco

Address of Cioppino’s San Francisco

400 Jefferson Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 775-9311

Opening Hours

Sunday–Thursday: 11am–10pm
Friday, Saturday: 11am–10:30pm

Parking at Cioppino’s San Francisco

If you’re dining at Cioppino’s, park at Central Parking’s “Triangle Lot” on the corner of Jefferson & Taylor streets. Parking can be validated. Otherwise, parking at this great location costs $3 for 20 minutes! And if you validate your parking after a meal at Cioppino’s, you can also take some time to stroll along Fisherman’s Wharf to take in the sights and the sounds. Remember to validate your parking at Cioppino’s!

**Special thanks to the great folks at Cioppino’s and San Francisco Travel for hosting us to an amazing meal at Cioppino’s!

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