Hungry Hunter embellishes plates with congenial cuts of meat and more while enticing diners with its lounge-like atmosphere. The lunch menu encourages patrons to ignite a lazy appetite with the mini slider appetizer, a single shot of bite-sized burger or barbecue pulled pork ($3) or troubleshoot a bland blind date with an appetizer sampler that balances spicy prawns, potato skins, and calamari ($11). The hearty, slow-roasted signature prime rib is massaged with Hungry Hunter's house seasoning blend ($16.50 for an 8 oz.), and the vegetable pasta—with asparagus, english peas, roasted onions, and a chunky tomato sauce—is draped in a dusting of pecorino cheese ($11.50).
The Steak: Most of Harris’ steaks are culled from Kansas and Nebraska Angus herds, though traditional Japanese Kobe beef can also be found on the menu.
Where to Sit: The main dining room features high ceilings, horseshoe booths upholstered in tufted leather, mahogany paneling, and brass fixtures.
Angus: cattle breed originating in Scotland, favored for its finely marbled meat that creates a more tender, juicy, and flavorful steak.
Paillard: a piece of beef or veal that is pounded thin and then grilled.
Sweetbreads: mellow-tasting, smooth-textured morsels taken from a lamb or calf’s thymus gland or pancreas.
“Every steak will have a handle.” That’s the guarantee that Epic Roasthouse chef and co-owner Jan Birnbaum offers with his bone-in steak policy; he subscribes to the belief that the best parts of any cut of beef are those closest to the bone. His patrons shouldn’t have any problem trusting his opinion, considering Julia Child once invited him to participate on her PBS series Master Chefs. Jan’s more than 30-year career has taken him to renowned restaurants around the country (including New York’s Quilted Giraffe and San Francisco’s award-winning Campton Place Hotel), where he has often experimented with dishes from his native New Orleans. Jan continues his momentum with Epic Roasthouse, a restaurant that’s recently been selected for nine of Gayot’s 2013 top-10 lists for San Francisco, including Top Steakhouses. The much-loved beef takes up the bulk of Epic’s dinner menu, with such cuts as petit filets and rib-eyes emerging from the kitchen one of seven ways (from Pittsburgh-style to well done). Each cut smokes in a custom-built wood-fired grill or a wood oven, absorbing the aroma of the almond and walnut that burn within them. The seasonal menu also features a nightly selection of house-cured meats, which might include duck prosciutto or braised oxtail terrine. The location lends just as much to Epic’s allure as the food. The building’s prime spot on the Embarcadero gives diners perfectly framed views of the Bay Bridge through large picture windows. The interior was designed by Pat Kuleto, a designer selected for a Time magazine list celebrating the last millennium’s Top 100 Innovators (guests might recognize his work from Jardinière or the Fog City Diner). The upstairs has a private dining space with a dedicated chef and kitchen, and there, guests can enjoy those same Bay-Bridge views from a private terrace.
Keywords: Brazilian Steak House | Rodizio-Style Service | Gourmet Salad Bar | International Wine Selection
Churrascaria: Brazilian-style barbecuing where the meat is skewered and cooked over an open flame or on a grill; the meat itself is called churrasco.
Caipirinha: a Brazilian cocktail made with the sugarcane-based spirit cachaca and lime juice.
A5 Wagyu Steak | Japanese-Influenced Small Plates | Expansive Wine List | Retro-Futuristic Decor
The Vibe: Semicircular, cream-colored banquettes sprawl out beneath a ceiling dome with colored recessed lighting, simultaneously evoking a lounge from both 1970 and 2070. Away from the lounge, the bar tempts guests to tell stories or laugh maniacally in front of flames flickering on a projection screen.
When to Go: Swing by for 5A5's happy hour (weekdays from 5–7 p.m.), which Travel + Leisure magazine named as one of America's best for its rotating selection of $2 bites and its cocktail of choice: the French A5, which mixes Ketel One with St. Germain elderflower liqueur and grapefruit juice.
A5: the highest grade of wagyu beef. The ranking is based on its marbling, color, texture, and firmness.
Marbling: the flecks and strips of fat in beef.
Inside Tip: For the wagyu experience without the steep price, order one of the restaurant's wagyu small bites, such as the tartare with asian pear and quail yolk or the sliders with bacon jam.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Gawk at 19th- and 20th-century European and American paintings at Montgomery Gallery (406 Jackson Street).
After: Catch a new play or some sketch comedy at The Eureka Theatre (215 Jackson Street).
John’s Grill has spent the last century honing a menu of classic Italian-American seafood, steak, and pasta recipes. The Jack LaLanne salad is a popular starter, featuring crab, shrimp, avocado, tomatoes, and mushrooms tossed in a blue-cheese vinaigrette. The signature dish—Sam Spade’s lamb chops—pays homage to a character in The Maltese Falcon, published in 1929 by novelist Dashiell Hammett, a former regular at John’s. Hammett wrote the restaurant into the detective novel, having his gumshoe order the chops with baked potato and sliced tomatoes—a combination that now lives on on John’s menu.
John’s Grill’s clientele list reads alternately like a Who’s Who of Hollywood legends—Shirley Temple, Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp—and a roll call at a G20 meeting, with names like Hillary Clinton, President Stephanopoulos of Greece, and President Zedillo of Mexico. Plenty of other big names have stopped by John’s as well, including Bill Gates, Andy Warhol, and Gore Vidal.
In tribute to Dashiell Hammett’s novel, John’s Grill secured a replica of the the maltese falcon featured in the book’s 1941 film adaptation. The statue sat proudly on the restaurant’s second floor until 2007, when it was stolen. When a $25,000 reward failed to crack the case, the restaurant owner decided to use that money to commission a new falcon. At 150 pounds, the new bird is three times heavier than its predecessor and is bolted down to discourage thieves.