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Chico State

’Cats Get Cookin’ with Mike Buich

Tadich Grill's neon sign above the restaurant in San Francisco's financial district.
Image Courtesy of Tadich Grill Facebook

This is the fourth installment in our ‘Cats Get Cookin’ series and includes Tadich Grill’s iconic Hangtown Fry recipe below, along with links to our previous recipes.

Mike Buich grew up on the floor of California’s oldest continuously run restaurant, Tadich Grill. It’s an icon nestled right in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district, where the same seafood cioppino has evoked a cacophony of joyful sighs from patrons for decades. This long-established consistency is why TasteAtlas named Tadich Grill to its prestigious list of 150 “most legendary” restaurants across the globe. 

Its history is his own. From a young age, Buich (Business Administration, ’84) washed dishes there, learned to butcher fish, swept floors, set up and bussed tables, and learned to host from his father—who ran the iconic restaurant for 35 years, taking over from his father who began there as a broiler chef in 1913.  

A neon sign that says Tadich Grills is lit up outside the restaurant storefront.

“I literally have paid pay stubs from when I was 10,” Buich said. 

While college and five years in corporate sales created a short hiatus, all roads inevitably led back home for Buich.

“This business gets in your blood or it doesn’t—and it got into mine,” Buich said. 

Since Buich joined as a partner in ’89, Tadich Grill has charted many variations of the unknown, from changes to technology and foodie culture to surviving the Loma Prieta earthquake in ’89 and a global pandemic—a feat that he and daughter Melissa Pipas, who serves as chief financial officer, accomplished together, refusing to let staff go unpaid through the hardest times. 

“How we treat staff reflects in the way that staff treat customers,” he said. “It’s like a family.” 

Given everything he has learned over 50 years, Buich is focused on preserving what is true and unique about Tadich Grill. Namely, the food, its history, and the maze of memories he encounters every morning when the smell of freshly cut lemon and mesquite fires catch his attention. These timeless elements have won the hearts of local families, tourists, and celebrity chefs like Emeril Lagasse, Tyler Florence, and Anthony Bourdain. 

“We try to keep the menu the same as it’s been for years because that’s what people know and why they come back,” Buich explained. He also believes in the intimate, personal experiences people have at his restaurant, which goes back to his father and grandfather learning customers’ names, preferences, and stories. It’s a mission they’ve maintained since it first opened in 1849 and one they have no intention of stopping anytime soon.  

“When you get everything right and people have an amazing experience and feel like they’ve come to a special place, that’s what really gets me,” he said. 

Hangtown Fry  

A San Francisco favorite that has been enjoyed almost as long as the Tadich Grill has been in existence.  

A plate of eggs, fried oysters, and bacon is flanked by French fries and salad garnish.



  • 2 slices bacon  
  • ½ cup fine seasoned bread crumbs, toasted, or flour seasoned with salt and pepper  
  • 6 oysters, shucked  
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter  
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten  
  • 3 or 4 dashes Tabasco sauce 
  • Kosher salt  
  • Freshly ground black pepper  


Step 1: Place a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and fry for six to eight minutes, until crisp. Transfer to paper towel to drain.  

Step 2: Place the bread crumbs in a small bowl. Dredge the oysters in the breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess.  

Step 3: Pour the bacon fat out of the sauté pan. Add the oysters and sauté for about one and half minutes on each side, or until they just plump up. Crumble the bacon and toss it with the oysters. Pour the eggs into the pan. Season with Tabasco sauce, salt, pepper to taste, and cook for about three minutes, until the eggs are almost set, lifting the edges of the cooked eggs to let the uncooked eggs run underneath.  

Step 4: Carefully flip the frittata over and cook for about two minutes longer, or until the second side is set.  

Step 5: Transfer to a plate and serve immediately.   

Get Cookin’ with More ’Cats

Lance Lew’s Chiao-tzu: New Year Dumplings

Debra Sims’ Ricotta Ñoquis

Lindsey Barrett’s Fresh Pasta Dough