Imagine Affairs revitalizes the classic murder-mystery template with current-day touches: Scenarios reference the modern nightclub in which the audience and actors gather, and cases are cracked by CSI-style cops, not Holmesian detectives or omniscient robots. Meanwhile, the actors leaven the dire situation with doses of improv comedy and audience interaction, which lets guests become as entangled in plot twists as they want.
As a youngster, Latif Lamnaouar learned classic Moroccan dishes by watching and helping his mother in the kitchen. After moving to America, the homesick Latif started cooking those meals himself, a process that reduced his homesickness and propelled his culinary aspirations. He now crafts Moroccan specialties at Lateeva's Cafe, from veggie sandwiches with eggplant and split pea hummus spread to lemon chicken paninis with pesto and spinach.
Before noon, Latif assembles plenty of breakfast treats, too, including wraps chock-full of eggs, hash browns, salsa, and a choice of turkey sausage or turkey bacon. Complement feasts with coffee drinks or the apple juice, strawberry, and tamarind blend of the Road to Casablanca smoothie, named for its resemblance to Humphrey Bogart's naturally fruity scent.
This year, Izzy’s Steaks & Chops celebrates its 25th anniversary, giving guests an excuse to reminisce about the technologies, events, and classical-music feuds that made 1987 twice as popular as 1983. Throughout the past two and a half decades, the folks in Izzy’s kitchens have been grilling up the steaks and chops that they see as an integral part of Americana, along with freshly caught local seafood that’s never frozen. All of their corn-fed Black Angus beef is humanely raised at Creekstone Farms, which is dedicated to beef free of hormones and antibiotics. The chefs transform those premium meats into their signature new york sirloin steaks, aged a minimum of 21 days, as well as cuts of slow-roasted prime rib and filet mignon medallions au poivre with pepper cream sauce. Double-cut pork gets a boost from spiced pear, and a lime-chive sauce adds tang to peppered swordfish. Each meal comes with a choice of two sides, such as creamed spinach, the chefs’ signature potatoes au gratin, and french fries cut in the kitchen.
House desserts such as new york cheesecake and key-lime pie conclude meals or quiet whining choruses of sweet teeth. Wine, cocktails, and draft beers encourage diners to linger in the cozy space, and during brunch—served only at the San Francisco location—the bartenders mix up cocktails such as peach bellinis or gaelic coffee with irish whiskey.
The Van's has earned the admiration of diners and drinkers since 1947, though its historic teahouse structure dates even farther back—to 1915 when constructed to house a portion of the Japanese Exhibition at the Panama Pacific International Exposition. The restaurant's second-story dining room offers panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and close-ups of crisp white linens, complemented by rich, Italian-inspired eats and select wines. The restaurant's bar area boasts the original wallpaper from 1915, as well as historic photographs in which the Peninsula's water incidentally looks the same.
The epicurean alchemists at Medallion Steakhouse start with organic produce, and grass- and corn-fed beef and chicken raised on local farms and transform them into fine, innovative dishes. Specialists tend the raw oyster bar, where guests sidle up to string necklaces of pearls from varieties such as Fanny Bay, Marin Miyagi, and Kumamoto oysters. With their appetites roused, diners then settle down into oversize booths padded with plush pillows to dig into farm-fresh entrees. Smells of sizzling 14-ounce grass-fed steaks and roasted chicken breasts from Petaluma Farms swirl through the air between the restaurant’s exposed-brick wall hung with red-and-white-framed mirrors. A wall of white birch tree trunks and soft sounds of a waterfall's trickle keep diners comforted as they linger for a forkful of hazelnut dark-chocolate mousse and sips of spirits such as a 20-year-old tawny port and Godiva white-chocolate liqueur.