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. Perched atop a picturesque hillock, 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.
At House of Genji, talented chefs whip up sumptuous steaks, fresh seafood, and tasty fried rice before diners' eyes in impressive displays of dexterity. Each cook is part culinary master, part showman, and part Level 32 food wizard, slicing and dicing Japanese steak-house treats such as thin-sliced beef chiri-chiri ($17.95/dinner) in stunning tableside shows of fireballs, super-accurate food-flinging, and acrobatic knife work. Seafood and landlubbing fare peacefully cohabitate the list of hibachi delights, with juicy cuts of filet mignon ($22.95 for dinner) sizzling in an appetizing aroma alongside tuna steak ($23.50 for dinner). Each hibachi dinner arrives with an edible entourage of soup, salad, steamed rice, veggies, and piping-hot green tea, with most dinners available in teriyaki style. For an additional fee, customers can order the steak and lobster entree ($36.95) or Genji seafood combo ($37.95) for the hibachi dinner option.
As it enters its 30th year, Three Flames Restaurant presents a newly remodeled banquet hall and a cocktail lounge—creating the ideal setting for delicious entrees paired with a soup or salad buddy, both of which are made from different kinds of scratch. Stop by to sample a dinner menu of steaks, lobsters, chicken, and pasta. Get the ball rolling with fried calamari (tossed with fresh garlic and dusted with parmesan, $9.95) or a pair of crab cakes (with a spicy-sweet Asian remoulade, $11.95) before confidently tackling a signature entree such as the New York pepper steak (14-ounce char-grilled steak coated in black peppercorn sauce under chives and crumbled bacon, $22.95) and chardonnay chicken (in a lemon-wine sauce mixed with mushrooms and herbs, $16.95). If you long for your nostalgic childhood spent under the ocean, point your appetite toward the lobster tail ($24.95 for a small 6- to 7-ounce tail) or add bay shrimp to your tortellini Alfredo ($15.95). Three Flames has a wine to go with everything, so you won't have to get your feet purple squashing your own.
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).