Diners in Alameda

Select Local Merchants

Almost anything could happen to a chicken wing in PS Eatery’s kitchen. The culinary team could crisply fry it and dunk it in buffalo spices, or prepare it Asian-style, tossing it in fish sauce. The eatery specializes in comfort food with a twist, adding flavorful touches and Asian influences to its classic platters. The mac and cheese, for instance, comes crowned in Japanese-style panko breadcrumbs and mixed with spicy tuna. Grilled pork loins arrive sided with tasty tangles of spaghetti chow mein, and even the humble veggie burger is reinvented with six layers of yellow squash, eggplant, and zucchini, rather than the standard autumn leaves.

1330 Park St
Alameda,
CA
US

Claremont Diner's cozy atmosphere and generous portions of classic diner fare have earned it the loyal patronage of locals, and favorable nods from critics from the San Francisco Chronicle. As guests devour breakfasts of pancake stacks topped with powered sugar and fresh fruit, or lunches of freshly made chicken salad or the ever-popular salmon burger, an adorable miniature train set steams through the restaurant and a tiny model village. The space bursts at the seams with heartwarming Americana, with its bar counter lined with swivel stools, guests sipping root beer floats in the red vinyl booths.

6200 Claremont Ave
Oakland,
CA
US

Working with farmers, ranchers, merchants, and bakers, Saul's ingredient pantry is stocked with the freshest, up-to-snuff ingredients. Count on finding cage-free eggs, locally sourced produce, and high-quality meats at this certified Bay Area Green Business. Each of the three potato pancakes is crafted from wholesome ingredients, such as organic and cage-free eggs. Pair the potato-y goodness with a pitcher of local, artisanal microbrew. Like the exchange rate between cumin and paprika, Saul's selection of brews changes often. Current thirst quenchers include Sebastopol's Ace Apple Cider, SF's own Anchor Steam, and Carlsberg. Check out the drink menu here.

1475 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley,
CA
US

In 1947, owners Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs assembled a staff of 14 carhops to serve passing motorists at the first Mel's Drive-In. For the next two decades, customers partial to automobile dining flocked to the chain’s 11 California locations, eager to wash down grass-fed half-pound burgers with thick milk shakes. As fast-food outlets outpaced the drive-in's once-speedy service, its popularity declined, and it was eventually scheduled for demolition. The building got a temporary reprieve, however, when filmmaker George Lucas decided to use the drive-in's original location on Lombard Street as the colorful backdrop for his film American Graffiti. As bulldozers destroyed the last remnants of the historic drive-in, American Graffiti opened in theaters.

A decade later, though, Mel's son Steven reopened Mel's Drive-In in an attempt to carry on his father's dream. Steven restored the drive-in's multiple locations to mirror their original motif by stocking each with midcentury must-haves such as illuminated marquees, jukeboxes, and Elvis-themed WiFi passwords. The drive-in’s menu, meanwhile, balances period-appropriate fare, such as hot dogs and burgers, with healthy options, such as the Haven’s Famous vegetarian sandwich, two slices of nine-grain bread topped with avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes.

3355 Geary Blvd
San Francisco,
CA
US

When Ronn Teitelbaum opened the first Johnny Rockets location in 1986, his goal was to create a restaurant where people could escape the postmodern blues of everyday life and experience a taste of time-honored Americana. The name itself is a nod to this ideal?it combines the star of a classic American fable, Johnny Appleseed, and a classic car, Oldsmobile?s beefy Rocket 88. The chain now makes itself at home in America's cultural landmarks, including Yankee Stadium and the Flamingo Hotel.

During dinners at the famous burger joints, you?ll see signs of simpler times, starting with the cooks and servers. Dressed head to toe in white, including white paper hats, they look like they?ve fallen out of a wormhole from the 1950s ready to sling shakes and cook up some eats. Behind a stainless-steel bar lined with red leather stools they tend to their traditional diner fare, including burgers and melts with sides such as chili-cheese fries and onion rings. Riding sidecar to each meal is a collection of hand-dipped and hand-spun floats, shakes, and malts topped with whipped cream.

1946 Fillmore Street
San Francisco,
CA
US

St. Francis Fountain

Historic Soda Fountain | Monster Hashes | Egg Creams and Floats | Vegan Milk Shakes | Hangover Cures

Sample Menu

  • To eat: hamburger with spuds
  • To share: a pair of Upside Down Hog Cakes—pancakes made with bacon, cheddar, and onion
  • To drink: milk shake

Past Lives: St. Francis Fountain came by its lovely old neon signage authentically—it’s been a soda fountain since Greek immigrant James Christakes opened it in 1918. The family updated the dining room in 1948, but not much else changed until Peter Hood and Levon Kazarian took it over in 2002 after the original spot closed. (In the interim, Mission Local reported, regulars taped pleading notes on the windows asking that the fountain be preserved.) The new owners preserved St. Francis’s spirit while trading in the candy- and ice-cream-making areas for a full menu; the ice cream now comes from local institution Mitchell’s.

While You Wait: Browse the selection of vintage pop-culture ephemera filling what used to be the candy case, perhaps picking up a pack of Magnum, P.I. trading cards to entertain a fussy 55-year-old.

Inside Tips

  • Scan the menu closely if you’re vegetarian or vegan—tons of dishes have meatless or nondairy tweaks available.
  • Larger groups might have trouble finding space here, since seating options are limited. (Things were smaller in 1918.)

Vocab Lesson
Black Forest ham: a black-edged ham named for the part of Germany where it’s produced via a three-month process involving curing with garlic, coriander, pepper, and juniper berries before it’s smoked over fir branches.

Egg cream: a classic (egg-free) fountain drink made with soda water, chocolate syrup and a little cream or, more commonly, milk.

While You’re in the Neighborhood

  • Before: Ramble down Balmy Alley (parallel to Treat Avenue and Harrison Street between 24th and 25th Streets) and tour murals ranging from the 1980s to, potentially, a couple weeks ago.
  • After: Plot to make your own sourdough french toast with a sourdough-bread-baking class from Sour Flour at La Victoria Bakery (2937 24th Street).

2801 24th St
San Francisco,
CA
US