When to Go: The chef’s fried chicken is available exclusively on Monday nights, paired with live blues between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Where to Sit
Étouffée: translates literally to “smothered.” This spicy, Cajun seafood stew is thickened with a roux and served over rice.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
After brunch: Check out the well-curated selection of women’s clothing and jewelry at De Novo (2413 California Street).
After dinner: Catch a classic film at Clay Theatre (2261 Fillmore Street), a cinema built in 1910.
The Vibe: The Brazen Head looks like it exists in a different time and place—say, Manchester in the 1960s. Old news clippings and portraits line the walls, and dark woods stretch back as far as the eye can see, which isn’t that far thanks to the dim lighting and heavy drapes that block out excess sunlight.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Swing by The Brazen Head’s sister restaurant, Liverpool Lil’s (2942 Lyon Street), for classic British pub grub such as shepherd’s pie and fish and chips.
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.
Who’s in Charge: Jake Gillis, who was born and raised in Philly. Needless to say, he doesn’t skimp on authenticity. He even imports Amoroso rolls straight from his hometown.
While You’re Waiting
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Work up an appetite on the putting greens at Moscone Recreation Center
After: Burn off the Whiz with a workout at Perfect Fit
In 2012, Izzy?s Steaks & Chops celebrated 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 also gets a boost from spiced pear. 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.