San Francisco has always been a culinary melting pot. Italian and Chinese immigrants, fisherman, bakers, and chefs have left delicious legacies that tell the story of the city though iconic dishes. To incorporate a little local flavor in your wedding reception, consider serving one — or a few — of these iconic San Francisco foods.
Cioppino was created by Italian immigrants in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood way back in the late 1800s. Originally a dish thrown together using the day's catch while out at sea, it later became popular in the neighborhood restaurants. Similar to seafood stews served in Italy but with a San Francisco twist, it's typically filled with local Dungeness crab, shrimp, scallops, squid, and mussels tossed together with tomatoes and wine, and served with local sourdough bread. Serve it as a buffet item or as a hearty seafood option.
And speaking of sourdough, the city's famous bread was created thousands of years before the settlement of California, but when Basque immigrants began making sourdough bread during the Gold Rush, it became the unofficial bread of the growing city. Perhaps the most famous purveyor is Boudin Bakery, which has been making sourdough in San Francisco since 1849 and continues to do so using a portion of the original starter. Serve sourdough in each table's bread basket, or go all out with individual bread bowls filled with clam chowder or a seafood bisque.
The original Irish Coffee was born in Shannon, Ireland, but it was San Francisco's Buena Vista Café that brought it across the pond to America in 1952. Café owner Jack Koeppler was so determined to recreate the concoction that he even went back to its birthplace at the Shannon Airport and eventually figured out the secret recipe (it involves aging the cream for 48 hours and frothing it to the perfect consistency). More than 60 years later, the café still serves its signature drink, though you can serve your own version with coffee, whisky, and whipped cream to keep guests caffeinated and dancing all night long.
Despite their association with Chinese food, fortune cookies were not created in China. Though their origin is disputed by some, a federal judge of the Court of Historical Review has deemed that they were created in the heart of San Francisco's Chinatown, at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Company. The cookies sell for $5 per bag of traditional or chocolate fortune cookies, so they're an inexpensive — and delicious — way to add some local flavor to your reception meal.
IT's-IT Ice Cream Sandwich
Born in 1928, IT's-IT ice cream sandwiches may be the city's most beloved dessert. The sweet treat is deceptively simple: a scoop of vanilla ice cream between two large old-fashioned oatmeal cookies, which is then dipped into fine dark chocolate. Serve the original — or try flavors like chocolate, mint, strawberry, cappuccino, or pumpkin — for a decadent late-night treat.