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Aug 7, 2002 02:32 AM

Red's Java House - longer than the menu

  • s

Ok, everyone's been there. Everyone knows about it. Not much has changed.

After visiting the Union Square area last week, it was nice to have a cheeseburger and wine for the grand total of $3.20.

On top of that there's a pleasant view of the bay, an outdoor "patio" and free parking.

For the two people who probably haven't been there, the burgers are in the McDonald's style, but larger, and can be ordered on a french roll or regular hamburger roll ($2.10. Ten cents more for cheese). Red's uses Heinz catsup unlike the unidentified, inferior red stuff McD's is currently pushing.

Despite living practically next door, I have not been there for quite a while. Wine has doubled in price from fifty cents to a buck, but is still served in styrofoam cups with a lid. There are now french fries ($1.25) and onion rings ($2.25) on the menu.

Since the ballpark opened, Red's hours have expanded and there was a sign that said they were opened for dinner. That seems to mean fish and chips is added to the menu. They are open for Sunday brunch as well.

There are limited breakfast items on the menu now. Last time I was there it was just coffee and donuts. You can get a short stack of pancakes for $3, a McMuffin type of sandwich and a few types of other egg dishes.

There is also a sandwich of the day that seems new.
Monday - Italian Sausage
Tuesday - Club Sandwich
Wednesday - BBQ Chicken
Thursday - Meatball
Friday - Fish and chips

Other than that, things look the same.

Coffee (.75 / 1.00) is smooth and I really liked it. I'm not sure if they still roast their own. Last time I was there you could buy bags to go, but I didn't see any on this visit. If you want decaf, however, it's instant coffee. A sign on the wall says "Espresso - No Way".

Sandwiches (2.10. Add 25 cents for cheese) include ham, salami, turkey, tuna and deviled egg. Clam Chowder - $2. Hot dogs - $1.90. Chili & beans - $1.90. Trip to the past - priceless.

Beer is either Bud (1.90) or Anchor Steam (2.90). I'm thinking the Anchor Steam is an upgrade.

There are now tables outdoor in the back, some of them made of old doors. The bay was active. Red kayaks glided by. There is a run of anchovies in this part of the bay currently that is attracting striped bass that in turn is attracting a few fishermen. A curious otter stuck it's nose out of the water from time to time. Pigeons eyed my burger greedily. Seagulls squacked complaints that I was not sharing my meal. A pleasant way to pass some time on a sunny (finally) day.

A search for the history of Red's on the web doesn't yield a lot of information. It's opening date is listed as either 1923 or 1925. San Francisco had a thriving shipping industry and each pier had itÂ’s own java house in the 1920's.

Artist Richard Perri captured some of the Java houses and a link to an article about his work is as follows:

An interesting, but I suspect untrue history of Red's was posted on epinions by someone claiming to be Red's son.

There are two reasons I think this is a phony. Mistersf.com says Red's was named for a former owner who was an Irish boxing coach. The epinions poster doesn't metion this as the career of the "father".

Also, the post was in 2000 and the author claims the dad still owned the place. However, Steve and Maria Reilly have held the month to month lease for at least a dozen years. They led a write in campagn to save Red's from being torn down by redevelopment in the mid 90's.

The site for the stunning black and white photo of Red's (which captures the place perfectly, IMO) is below. There's two more pictures including a lunch photo.


A sidewalk plaque near the Red's says the remains of the "Lost Ghost Ship: Lydia." have been buried nearby beneath the Embarcadero

Red's Java House
Pier 32
San Francisco, CA 94105
Mon-Tue 6am-4pm (open later on game days
)Wed-Fri 6am-8pm
Sat-Sun 9am-3pm

Link: http://www.epinions.com/rest-review-7...

Image: http://www.snapcity.com/past/snap1/re...

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  1. You missed something, the entertainment!!!!!
    I had not been there in years , so I stopped by one Tuesday about a month ago and sat outside to enjoy the nice day. Well, much to my surprise parked beside my car, in their free lot, was a rather old car with a woman in it. A few minutes later as I was enjoying the Bay a white truck with a city agency marking pulled up in back of her and the male occupant yelled "hey lady".
    She quicky jumped out and into his truck and off they went to the end of the pier for about 5 minutes to enjoy the view. She soon returned to her car and off thw white truck went.
    It seems to me that maybe our fine supervisors could pass a bill to provide fries and a burger along with the other benefits provided this city worker. After all it would help the economy of the city.

    7 Replies
    1. re: mushroom

      Thanks for this well-told tribute.

      1. re: mushroom

        "She quicky [sic] jumped out and into his truck"

        Great typo -- your subconscious at work?

        1. re: mushroom
          Stanley Stephan

          An imaginative, yet highly suspect story. Having run into the parking guard at that pier a number of times, its is difficult to get past the area beyond Red's, especially on a weekday.

          Unfortunately, the story is more colorful than the neighborhood. Shame on you for trying to sully the repution of city workers.

          First time poster to the board, mushroom?

          1. re: Stanley Stephan

            Actually, the parking guard isn't always there -- I had lunch there a couple of months back and no one was controlling parking. The ropes that block off the back area were down/removed.

            It was different during the breakfast hour.


            Link: http://chowhound.safeshopper.com

            1. re: Stanley Stephan

              But certainly a city worker would be able to get by the guard, no? It's not like it's the gate to the Iranian embassy. Hookers are everywhere, in every city, suburb and small town. As for sullying the reputation of city workers, where have you been hiding? Does that mean that no MUNI driver has ever smoked crack on the job? And don't even get me started about Willie Brown's lack of discretion. Even many presidents of the U.S. of A. have engaged in some action on the job ("Hey lady, hop in my presidential limousine for a few minutes!").

              And did you ever consider that this may be how Red's keeps their prices so darn low? There's a Red's Java House over yonder . . . ;-)

              1. re: Stanley Stephan

                I changed names. And yes it did happen on a Tuesday afternoon. The guard doesn't check anything.....infact I mentioned it to him and we both laughed about it. He sits in his little shack.

              2. re: mushroom

                Please, let's keep this discussion chowcentric. Bear in mind that vast numbers of hungry hounds are here in search of chow tips, so we ask everyone to restrain the chat impulse, which tends to spread like wildfire (and dilutes the resource and squanders our bandwidth).

                If anyone wants to continue this off-topic discussion, feel free to do so on the "not about food" board (maybe leave a "join me over there" message here so people know to meet you over there!).