Boudin Bakery San Francisco – The Original Sourdough

Boudin Bakery in San Francisco, producers of the original San Francisco Sourdough French bread, is consistently voted a local favorite. Herb Caen, the famous SF columnist wrote, "Fresh cracked crab with Boudin's round sourdough and a well-chilled bottle of California Chardonnay is still the quintessential SF meal."

All the breads produced by Boudin are mixed, shaped, scored and baked — the exact same process used when it opened its doors in 1849. From a tiny, old-world bakery on Dupont Street, Boudin has evolved into San Francisco's oldest continuously running company. The story begins with French baker Isidore Boudin, who arrived from Burgundy with an eagerness to share his region's time-honoured baking techniques. In 1849, the Boudin French Bakery opened and the story began…


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Boudin Bakery's Fisherman's Wharf Flagship Location

Boudin Baker

There's a lot going on at Boudin's 26,000-square-foot flagship location found smack dab in the middle of Fisherman's Wharf — a demonstration bakery where you can watch the bakers in action; a museum and bakery tour where you learn the myths and legend about the oldest SF bakery; Bistro Boudin & bar; and Bakers Hall, a Northern California culinary marketplace featuring Boudin Cafe and Peet's Coffee.

Head to the 30-foot floor-to-wall observation window that lets you see their team of bakers crafting batches of bread by hand. Stroll through the collection of historic and interactive exhibits from the museum's glass-walled catwalk. There's a small fee for the self-guided tour or the docent-guided group tours. End your visit with a meal at Bistro Boudin with SF signature dishes like oysters Rockefeller, Dungeness crab omelette, cioppino, Anchor Steam fish & chips, and even sourdough tacos and sourdough pizza.

Boudin Bakery San Francisco History

Boudin Bakery San Francisco History

As with so many San Francisco stories, Boudin's begins with the Gold Rush. By 1848, thousands of adventurers and fortune seekers had arrived in search of gold. San Francisco's population swelled to 20,000 by the end of that year. Baker Isidore Boudin, freshly arrived from France, decided to open a bakery and it quickly won a following with socialites and prospectors, who lined up each morning for a freshly-baked loaf of sourdough bread. And for those who couldn't make it to the bakery, a horse-drawn wagon delivered.

By 1852, the Boudin French Bakery needed more space, so it moved to 319 Dupont (now Grant Avenue) in North Beach. And, despite the introduction and wide-spread use of commercial yeast, the Boudin family continued to use the time-honored recipe of leavening the bread with a wild yeast starter, called the mother dough (and still does).

Following Isidore's death in 1887, his wife Louise and their daughter Lucie continued to run the bakery. In 1900, Boudin Bakery joined the auto craze with the introduction of motorized delivery trucks. During the 1906 earthquake and fire, Louise miraculously saved the original mother dough in a bucket. The bakery expanded and moved to its 10th Avenue location, it's still there.

In 1909, Charles Boudin, the youngest son of Isidore and Louise, married Lizabelle Pomeroy. The event was written about in the local newspapers, "The Boudins have long held an influential place in the life of the metropolis, and Mrs. Louise Boudin, mother of the groom, is the social leader of the French colony." A year later, Louise retired and her sons Charles and Jules took over

In 1928, the Boudin Bakery at 10th Avenue underwent an extensive renovation. Ansel Adams himself was commissioned to create their portrait. By the beginning of the 1930s competition from large industrial bakeries drove most small bakeries out of business. Boudin remained true to its baking traditions and fell on financial hard times.


A New Owner, A New Logo


In 1935, Boudin's baker Steve Giraudo, who trained in France and Italy, bought the bakery from the Boudins, with the family's full support. By the beginning of the 1960s Boudin was one of only a few San Francisco bakeries that stayed true to the original artisan sourdough recipe of unbleached flour, water, salt, and a portion of mother dough. In spite of modern baking trends, no sugar, preservatives, or dough conditioners are ever used at Boudin Bakery.

In 1974, famous designer Primo Angeli designed Boudin's logo, which blends bold American style with timeless European heritage. The logo was an instant classic, winning awards and acclaim. Around the same time, Boudin held its first baking demonstration on Fisherman's Wharf, where visitors watched the entire baking process from start to finish. Tourists, hungry for Boudin breads when they returned home, continued to request that the bread be delivered across the country. Boudin launched its mail-order business in 1978 and it was an overnight success.

By the early 1980s, Boudin decided to end its wholesale business and focus on the development of their bakery/cafes. In January 2004, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to celebrate the construction of Boudin's 26,000 square foot flagship location at Fisherman's Wharf. By May 2005, the new Boudin Cafe & Bakery opened and featured the demonstration bakery, Bakers Hall market, cafe, and the Boudin Museum.


Boudin Bakery San Francisco Locations

    Open 7 days a week: 7:30 AM to 10:00 PM
    3251 20th Avenue
    251 Geary Street
    399 10th Avenue
    Terminal 3, 2nd Floor

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