California-style salads, seafood, and burgers made from fresh ingredients
Z Café & Bar – 25% Off West Coast Cuisine
Z Café & Bar
Up to 48% Off American Cuisine at Broadway Grill
Restaurant serves classic American dishes, such as aged steaks, hearty burgers, and glazed meatloaf
The Van's Restaurant 'On The Hill' – 40% Off Steakhouse Cuisine
The Van's Restaurant 'On The Hill'
Signature steakhouse and seafood cuisine includes mesquite-broiled steaks, prime rib of beef, scallops, and daily fish selections
Up to 40% Off at Grill 'Em Steakhouse and Bar
Grill 'Em Steakhouse and Bar
Cook your own tender new york strip steaks to perfection on a 6'x2.5' communal grill; breakfast options include omelets and steak and eggs
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.
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.
Weekly samba performances complement authentic Brazilian fare at Canto Do Brasil Restaurant, one of San Francisco's longest-standing Brazilian restaurants and subject of two Check, Please! Bay Area features. To commence meals, chefs can sauté fresh calamari with red wine or grill up a sausage that intimidates foot-long hot dogs with its 16-inch length and muscular entourage of bread. For the main dish, forks can tap dance over the galinha na cerveja, a half chicken marinated in dark beer and Brazilian-style spices; or hide away inside the seafood tropical’s pineapple shell, in which a sauce made with orange, apple, and coconut festoons a medley of seafood. Finally, a selection of Portuguese beers or the signature caipirinha’s mix of sugar, lime, and rum's bad-boy cousin cachaça can wash down meals with authentic South American flavors.
Patrons can pluck their daily serving of fruit from piled-high headdresses on Friday and Saturday nights, when Canto Do Brasil hosts live Carnaval samba performances in a relaxed, festive, and romantic atmostphere. Dancers decked out in feathered plumes and sparkly costumes shimmy and shake their way between rustic wooden chairs and cerulean walls for a beach aesthetic, entertaining customers and competing to see whose headdress can attract the most parrots.
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.
From its unassuming corner on Mission Street, the Palace Family Steakhouse has watched the neighborhood change and evolve for nearly half a century. Though the original owner retired in 2009, Palace’s new management continues the traditions of old, serving up a menu of Mediterranean treats and sizzling steak-house fare until 3 a.m. every day of the week. Tabouleh and baba ghanouj starters mingle with juicy steaks, and American desserts such as cheesecake inspire forks to hum suites by Aaron Copland. Chefs also prepare traditional and seafood pasta alongside shawarma and club sandwiches or pizza.
Behind The Cheese Steak Shop's refreshingly simple name lies an American treasure: the Philly cheesesteak. The first Cheese Steak Shop was founded in 1982 by Pennsylvania transplant Keith Layton who set out to do his beloved meal right with top-shelf ingredients and sourcing all of the peppers, Tastycakes, Amoroso rolls, and pithy Ben Franklin quotes straight from the City of Brotherly Love. Inside each toasty, hearth-baked roll, strips of thinly-sliced sirloin, tender chicken, earthy mushrooms, or zesty pepperoni sizzle beneath a smothering layer of provolone or American cheese.
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.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Mow down a cheesesteak smothered in signature cheddar-beer sauce at Phat Philly (3388 24th Street).
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.
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
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.
Southern, Cajun, and Creole Cuisine | Fried-Chicken Buckets | Shrimp & Grits | Beloved Mac & Cheese | Rustic Down-Home Charm
Where to Sit: Anywhere in the cozy dining room, where string lights, mismatched bar stools, and reclaimed window frames give off a charming rustic vibe.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Work up a hearty appetite with a hike at Bernal Heights Park (Bernal Heights Boulevard), where clear days yield 360-degree views of the bay, the bridge, downtown, and the hills of East Bay.
After: Head across the street to RockBar (80 29th Street) for an after-dinner cocktail, such as the Green Stone with blanco tequila, chartreuse, cucumber, lemon, and lime.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Whip up the restaurant’s famous spicy shrimp & grits with andouille sausage redeye gravy at home. The Front Porch shared its recipe on an episode of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
When it opened in 1993, Polkers Restaurant—then known as Polkers Gourmet Burgers—focused exclusively on burgers crafted from fresh, local ingredients. Still a mainstay at Polkers, each burger builds from a patty of corn-fed Angus beef, which Executive Chef Munther Massarweh crowns with toppings such as housemade barbecue sauce and extra-sharp Wisconsin cheddar. Besides standard-sized beef burgers, Chef Munther treats smaller appetites and hungry dolls to sliders of ahi tuna with spicy sriracha aioli and barbecue pork with blue-cheese slaw.
But since 2013, the focus of the newly rechristened Polkers Restaurant has widened to include gourmet bistro and comfort food. New entrees include pan-seared salmon steaks and towers of oven-roasted veggies coated with an aged-balsamic glaze. Local greens star in Chef Munther's five well-crafted salads, which incorporate ingredients such as housemade caesar dressing and jalapeño cream.
San Franciscans know that weekday brunch is neither an unheard-of luxury, nor something to be taken for granted. Universal Café’s Wednesday through Friday brunches bring California cuisine to new daytime heights (and it’s no slouch in the dinner department, either). This poured-concrete eatery, with factory lighting on the eastern edge of the Mission, is a place for nutrition at its most decadent, from fresh fruit shakes with almond milk to sake bloody marys, it is built for a leisurely meal. Chef Leslie Carr Avalos’s Hudson Valley upbringing, where every season is starkly different from the next, shines through a menu devoted to showcasing whatever the Golden State’s orchards and fields are producing that week. Don’t overlook the outdoor seating, which is perfect if your brunching companion came on-leash.
Although one might infer from the name Slow Club that here is a chef dedicated to the slow food movement, it’s actually the kind of place to get a burger that wears its sustainable origins on its sleeve. Thoughtfully designed with a minimalist, loft-like interior and a retro bent, this Mission brunch, lunch and dinner establishment sits in a quiet precinct away from much foot traffic or bustle. Having been around for years, Slow Club can feel slightly ordinary only because of the hordes of likeminded imitators that have replicated its model of partnering with local ranches and farms to make everyday dishes fresher and more ecologically sound. But it’s as ever a hip, if slightly under-the-radar, place to dine. One glance at the cocktail list will dispel any doubt.