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.
Eat an endless parade of succulent meats, salads, sides, and hot dishes at Espetus Churrascaria. With today's Groupon, $20 gets you $40 toward a prix fixe rodizio-style dinner (can't be used toward drinks or dessert) that ensures hunger's defeat at the hands of knife-wielding, meat-serving gauchos. The rodizio dinner costs $49.95, so you'll still need another $9.95 in addition to your $40 Groupon, but that's still 40% off some of the best meats in town.
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 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 dining rooms offer panoramic views of the San Francisco Bay and close-ups of crisp white linens, complemented by rich, ethnic-inspired eats and select wines. The restaurant's bar area boasts the original wallpaper from 1915, as well as historic photographs showing the Peninsula.
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.
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).