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SF steakhouses 2011

Lots of new places, lots of old ones that closed, should probably start from scratch.

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  1. dry-aged: Alfred's, Boboquivari's, Epic Roasthouse, Harris'

    menus specify dry-aged for certain steaks: 5A5 Steak Lounge, Alexander's Steakhouse, Bourbon Steak, Lark Creek Steak

    to be determined: Izzy's (menus just say "aged")

    wet-aged (all branches of out-of-town chains): Bob's, Morton's, Ruth's Chris

    Harris' Restaurant
    2100 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94109

    Epic Roasthouse
    369 The Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94105

    Lark Creek Steak
    845 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

    1450 Lombard St., San Francisco, CA 94123

    5A5 Steak Lounge
    244 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94111

    Alexander’s Steakhouse
    448 Brannan St, San Francisco, CA

    1. Le Bordeaux, but I haven't been yet.

      The idea of a steakhouse seems like an anachronism. Lots of places in San Francisco serve good beef.

      Le Bordeaux
      524 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94133

      5 Replies
        1. re: Windy

          I think the advantage of a steakhouse is that they can sell enough beef to dry-age their own. At most of the places with dry-aged meat, steak is just a fraction of the menu.

          Bob's, Morton's, and Ruth's Chris seem like total anachronisms to me. I presume most of their business comes from tourists who don't know any better.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            "I think the advantage of a steakhouse is that they can sell enough beef to dry-age their own. At most of the places with dry-aged meat, steak is just a fraction of the menu."

            1. re: wolfe

              5A5 Steak Lounge, Alexander's Steakhouse, and Bourbon Steak, despite having the word "steak" in their names, have a lot of other things on the menu, as does Epic.

          2. re: Windy

            Le Bordeaux closed. Goes to show how bad an idea it is to open a restaurant without a liquor license.

          3. My (limited) wisdom on this remains unchanged. I don't generally go to steakhouses, but if I do go, Harris' is the spot for me.

            1. Leatherneck Steakhouse in the Marines Memorial is new.

              12 Replies
              1. re: sugartoof

                You should really get into the City more often. the Leatherneck Steakhouse has been there for a while.

                1. re: wolfe

                  Well look at that, you're right. So it's not new it's just frequently omitted.

                  The premise of it's recent slate of mentions has been that most San Franciscans don't even know it's there.

                  1. re: sugartoof

                    "Well look at that, you're right."
                    "Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes"
                    I think it gets overlooked because folks think you must have a military connection to eat in the Marines Memorial Hotel, maybe even be a Marine. There are no ex-marines, Semper Fi.

                    1. re: wolfe

                      I think you have to be military or retired to stay there, but anyone can eat there,

                      Semper Pri - Airborne

                      1. re: wolfe

                        Forget the misperception it's not accessible to the public, the steakhouse gets overlooked because it's fairly hidden, and some of us just aren't aware it's even there.

                        1. re: sugartoof

                          Well you are aware now and I breathlessly await your review but I'm not sure why you keep saying it's unknown. Don't you read Chowhound?

                          1. re: wolfe

                            Lots of mentions on CH, but you haven't linked to a single full report/review on here. It was also excluded from the thread.

                            Marine's Memorial is known to San Franciscan's for catered events, that is different than the steakhouse.

                            Time to move on.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              I didn't exclude Leatherneck from the list above, just forgot about it. Personally I have no interest in steak that's not dry-aged.

                              Here's an enthusiastic report:


                    2. re: wolfe

                      Seems as if it has been there for abut 100 years, feels that way anyway.

                      1. re: hms0898

                        Not quite,"The club opened on November 10, 1946, the anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps."

                      1. re: sugartoof

                        Adding a link. Jonathan Kauffman reviewed it quite positively this week in SF Weekly. The beef is not dry-aged. The prices are relatively low.

                        Is there really any such thing as wet aging? I don't think sitting in a walking in a cryovac bag does anything to improve beef.

                        Leatherneck Steakhouse & Lounge
                        609 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                      2. I like Alfreds.
                        Mortons is a chain but they have the advantage of having the bar open early if you happen to get in early.
                        At the Harris you can not get in the door till 5 or 5:30, but they have an excellent steak.

                        1. Two more places.

                          Palace Steak House
                          3047 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

                          Tad's Steakhouse
                          120 Powell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            palace closd and re-opened as something more casual

                            1. re: vulber

                              The old Palace was a dumpy dive. Supposedly the new owners cleaned it up.

                          2. no mention of seasons restaurant?

                            nice room, nice service, nice sides. the steak was good, but perhaps less flavorful than the ones i've had at harris'. is this a dry-aged thing?

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Dustin_E

                              Could be. The online menu says the rib-eye is dry-aged, no such claim for the fillet, NY, or porterhouse, so presumably they're not. Which did you order?

                              Seasons Restaurant at Four Seasons Hotel
                              757 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94103

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                we had the rib-eye, so i don't know...

                                but why would they dry-age only one of their cuts?

                                1. re: Dustin_E

                                  Some customers prefer unaged? Some would rather not pay the premium? Maybe the menu's just not written clearly and they do dry-age it all.

                            2. Peter Luger's in Brooklyn, Keens in Manhattan are my benchmarks for USDA prime, dry-aged steaks. Porterhouse for two.

                              Anything comparable in San Francisco?

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: steve h.

                                I'm not sure anybody around here does the slice and butter thing that Peter Luger's does.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  A follow-up question:
                                  San Francisco has a large Italian population. Are there restaurants that prepare steaks in the style of Florence (Chianina beef)?

                                  1. re: steve h.

                                    A Fiorentina is a charcoal-grilled Porterhouse or T-bone. Some Italian restaurants e.g. Cotogna call it that.

                                    Dario Cecchini told Bill Buford that real Chianina beef was extinct in Tuscany, he imports beef from Spain.

                                    490 Pacific Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      Dario is both a genius and a world-class marketer. I thought he got his pigs from Spain. When the hell is Buford's next book coming out?

                                2. re: steve h.

                                  Keens also has what I've been dreaming of for the bay area and that is a well prepared, bone-in mutton chop. Ahhhh.

                                  1. re: crabycat

                                    More lamb than sheep but it is indeed one hell of a chop. I love everything about Keens: from the portrait over the bar, to the barkeep's three questions, to the clay pipes on the main dining room ceiling.

                                    side note: I try to eat there with some measure of frequency (wife typically meets me in the bar, we grab a table in the pub near the fireplace if attending a game or concert at MSG and save the dining rooms for serious meals when we can dedicate the right amount of time). One time, my waiter asked how I was enjoying my steak. I said it was pretty good but a little overcooked. Next thing I know the captain, my waiter and someone from the kitchen were at my table, making apologies and replacing our porterhouse, all sides and wine. I was a little embarrassed. Since then, I've been a tad more careful with casual comments.

                                    Keens is a Manhattan treasure.

                                3. Anyone checked Mankas Tapas & Steakhouse?

                                  Chef David Pajarillo previously worked at Aqua in Las Vegas and Four Seasons in San Francisco


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: rworange

                                    Fairfield's in Solono County, so in this board's purview, but that's a long way from San Francisco.


                                  2. Some notes I made in trying to pick one.

                                    aged 28-42 days
                                    30-oz. rib-eye $46 incl. one side
                                    additional sides $4-8
                                    corkage $20, free if you buy a bottle
                                    2007 Chateau Goudichaud Graves De Vayres $28
                                    2007 Chateau Dutruch Grand Poujeaux Moulis-En-Medoc $64
                                    2005 Chateau Bonalgue Pomerol $115

                                    aged 28 days
                                    25-oz. rib-eye for one $54
                                    32-oz. rib-eye for two $42 per person = $84
                                    sides $9
                                    corkage $25 for the first two, $35 for the next two, four-bottle limit
                                    2004 Baron de Ley Rioja Reserva $50
                                    2010 Broc Cabernet Franc $55
                                    2001 Château Lalande $55
                                    2007 Nino Negri, Valtellina Superiore Inferno $57
                                    2008 COS Cerasuolo di Vittoria $70
                                    1999 Clos Margalaine Margaux $86
                                    2000 Coto de Imaz Rioja Gran Reserva $90

                                    ? days, ? oz. rib-eye $48 incl. veg & potato
                                    corkage $25 first three, $50 thereafter
                                    2008 Chinon, Marc Bredif $40
                                    2005 Château Laffitte-Teston, Madiran (100% Tannat) $46
                                    2006 Château Bellisle Mondotte, Saint-Emilion $50
                                    2003 Domaine Bunan, Moulin des Costes, Bandol $53
                                    2006 Château Haut Selve, Graves $55
                                    2003 Cedula Real, Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain $65
                                    2006 Tedeschi Amarone $95

                                    ? days, 22-oz. rib-eye $47
                                    sides $9-12
                                    2004 Chateau la Bessane Margaux $59
                                    2001 Chateau Feytit-Clinet Pomerol 115

                                    ? days, 15-oz. ribeye $60
                                    sides $8
                                    corkage $35 with a two-bottle limit?
                                    2009 Catherine & Pierre Breton Borgueil Nuits d’ Ivresse $65
                                    2005 Château Petit-Bocq $70
                                    2008 Catherine & Pierre Breton Borgeuil Les Perrieres $85
                                    2001 Château Malartic Lagraviere $110

                                    Bourbon Steak
                                    ? days, Certified Angus, 18-oz. ribeye $50
                                    sides $10
                                    2004 Baron De Ley Rioja Reserva $61
                                    nice wine list for millionaires; at least on Web site, cheapest red Bordeaux is $155

                                    Lark Creek Steak
                                    28 days, 16-oz. rib-eye $50
                                    ? days, 32-oz. porterhouse for two $89
                                    sides $8
                                    corkage $20
                                    at least on Web site, no imported or aged wines

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                      When I was last at Alexander's, I remember the head chef saying that they use Certified Angus Prime. He mentioned only one other steakhouse in SF which he thought also did so (I forgot the name), but it isn't common.

                                      1. re: calumin

                                        The Cheesecake Factory, Hard Rock Cafe, and Buckhorn Steakhouse use Certified Angus Beef®, though not necessarily prime grade or steaks.

                                        Hmmm, Buckhorn ages 42 days on premises, I might have to try it. $37 for 24-oz. ribeye, probably not prime grade.


                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                          5A5 also says they use Certified Angus, but also does not specify the grade.

                                          1. re: drewskiSF

                                            i think there's a connection between the ownership of 5A5 and alexander's

                                            1. re: vulber

                                              The chef worked at Alexander's in Cuptertino, I think that's it.

                                          2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            I'm surprised to see so few mentions of the Buckhorn Steakhouse in Winters, even on the California board. I never had one of their full steaks, but the (presumably non-aged) meats they serve at the Davis Farmer's Market, their catered events, and the steak bites at the restaurant are all fantastic. The decor is classic steakhouse, mounted taxidermy animal heads and all.

                                            They also own the Buckhorn Grill chain of restaurants scattered throughout the Bay Area. The Grill's webpage doesn't mention aging the meat, so you'd have to head to Winters.

                                      2. Went to Alfred's. The place really preserves a bit of old San Francisco I thought was extinct. The waiters were all guys and most seemed like they might have been working there since before the move from Broadway. Elegant but casual and friendly, some people were dressed up and some were the kind of tourists that would put Michael Bauer's panties in a bunch. The booths are comfortable and have glass panels between them for extra privacy without blocking the view of the meat locker at the end of the room.

                                        Old-school sourdough bread was fresh and crunchy but a bit bland the way it seems to be everywhere but Tadich.

                                        Antipasti misti ($16) had very good prosciutto, burrata, Cerignola olives, and hot toast points, plus a few kinds of pitted olives, roasted red peppers, and roasted zucchini that were just OK. Perfect light starter to perk up our appetites for the steaks. A glass of Elizabeth Spencer Sauvignon Blanc was a very good value at $7.50.

                                        "Chicago" 30-oz. bone-in ribeye steaks ($48 each including one side) were mesquite-grilled perfectly to rare and medium-rare as ordered, only odd thing is that they don't season them. The waiter said they were aged three weeks, I prefer longer but the dry-aged flavor was definitely there. Bearnaise and horseradish sauces also perfect though the meat didn't really need anything but salt. Creamed spinach was just like homemade and a huge portion. Vegetable side was steamed broccoli and carrots, nicely al dente, good for dipping in the bearnaise. We only ate a little over half the meat, next time we'll split one.

                                        The 2005 Ch. Bonalgue was the only Bordeaux left on the list, the one on the Web is out of date. It was good and at $105 priced at the standard markup, but not a great value. Next time I'll bring a bottle.

                                        For dessert we split what was described as "cappuccino ice cream" ($7) which turned out to be a very light, not very sweet semifreddo just like in Italy. They get it from someplace called Gotta Have It in San Rafael.

                                        They have a 17% service charge. The bill comes with a short but excellent essay explaining why.

                                        On our way out we looked around. The lovely bar was almost empty and has one of the biggest selections of whiskey in the city. At some point I realized I'd eaten in that building before, just months before the Blue Fox closed in 1993.

                                        Alfred's is a delight and while not cheap one of the best values around.


                                        6 Replies
                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            Crummy picture, very informative review.
                                            Thanks. Alfred's is now on the stack.
                                            Will you be visiting the other places on your list anytime soon?

                                            1. re: steve h.

                                              I want to try Harris' and Epic. The others I may drop by to find out more about their aging programs.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                Very cool. The more detail the better.
                                                Edited to add: a New York steakhouse is one of the few places I put butter on good bread. The unsalted butter at Keens is very good. Include your thoughts on the bread/butter thing if you feel like it.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Sadly I've been to Epic twice... and been grossly disappointed twice... Messed up orders, long waits, etc. Basically everything a restaurant is supposed to be good at... well they aren't.

                                            2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                              Went to Alfred's this week for only the second time, the first being years ago. Our group of 5 enjoyed the "Bull Market Special", $40 for a starter, 8oz filet or 14 oz ribeye or NY strip with side, and dessert. We split a couple bottles of an interesting Argentine Cab, very reasonably priced. My ribeye, ordered rare, was perfectly cooked with a great high temperature sear and smoke flavor from the wood grill. I totally agree about the lack of seasoning. The sauces were pretty good, but I particularly liked the pepper sauce (a few small boats were delivered on request). We also had the gnocchi which were pillowy and tasty in a herbed cream sauce.

                                              It wasn't full, so might make a convenient last minute dinner option. I'll certainly think of it again soon.

                                            3. I like Harris' and Alfred's- but THE BEST steak in the city by far is at Bobo's. Bone in Filet $39 is heaven on a plate. Great dry aged flavor! Hands down the best steak in town and in the country!
                                              Alfred's is a great place to enjoy the full steakhouse experience, so is Harris'. They do everything well there but they still can't beat Bobo's steak.

                                              1. I had a great meal at Epic, but the steak was no better than Alfred's, even though it cost more than twice as much ($88, up from $84 two weeks ago, + $18 for two sides + 4% SF city mandates surcharge).


                                                15 Replies
                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Nice to see Epic get a little love on this board. The two of us generally grab a four-top in the upstairs bar, gently slump into the cushy club chairs, order some happy-hour drinks and small plates and watch the sun go down.

                                                  On a different tack, I'm curious about the Epic backstory. Specifically, what exactly did it take to get approval to build both Epic and Waterbar on such choice real estate? There's a story here that I just haven't taken the time to research.

                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                    I think the Rincon Park restaurants were a relatively noncontroversial part of the Port / city redevelopment plans for the Embarcadero. Most of the opposition I heard about was focused on hotels. The project did take over a decade, partly because the original developers went bankrupt.


                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                      your link's content and "noncontroversial" do not seem to align?

                                                      1. re: drewskiSF

                                                        Relatively noncontroversial, the neighbors weren't happy but the restaurants got built. The hotel got citywide opposition and didn't.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          Yeah, that link is consistent with "San Francisco non-controversial"

                                                          the treasure island ferry port, or high speed rail ----

                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        Hi Robert,

                                                        Thanks for the link. I think drewski may have a point. I'll dig a little deeper when time permits.

                                                        I like the way the project ended up. Waterbar's demilune zinc bar and Epic's second-story Quiver Bar offer great views and strong drinks at the end of a busy day. The park is pretty but the bow and arrow thing is just plain goofy. Dogs seem to like the park as well as fancy photographers making models look glamorous. Pity it took a decade to put it all together but sometimes that's the price of poker.

                                                        1. re: steve h.

                                                          Yeah, it was non controversial for the developers.

                                                          I lived a block away at that time.I hate that stupid sculpture.

                                                          I was living practically under the Bay Bridge in a condo when 9-11 happened. For a year the end of my street was blocked off by the military to make sure no one blew up the bridge.

                                                          The post office was at the other end of the street. Don't forget those anthrax scares.

                                                          So that arrow just makes me think of war and death.

                                                          My condo had a sweeping view of the Bay when I bought it. I was told another condo was being built in front of it but that project would take seven years. The building was completed in six months. buh-by view.

                                                          I got involved in another development off of first St. Our tenant association,Rin-ten-ten (Rincon tenacious tenants) taught me to get the developers attention you had to make noise and get the press involved.

                                                          For a while, we battled for our little neighborhood and got all sorts of concessions. I was thinking at the time, a lot of those promises could be easily reversed once the buildings were completed.

                                                          One by one we bought our own houses and condos. A year after the last tenant moved, the developers moved in like wolves and ate up the street with their way to big for the street buildings ... and there was zero promised parking and no open space.

                                                          I like Epic and Waterbar well enough ... but my view wasn't blocked.

                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                            Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats a first-hand account. Thanks for chiming in.

                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                              I'm a fan of the artist's cherry-and-spoon in MN, but the arrow is a dud. And luckily this isn't an art board!

                                                              I have been snubbing Epic since built. It's going on the Maybe list after this discussion.

                                                              1. re: bbulkow

                                                                I think the arrow is fine; certainly better than the clothespin in Chicago.

                                                                A great deal in the bar in Epic in the evening: delicious cheeseburger, fries, beer, brownie, for $20 plus tip.

                                                      3. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        I haven't seen anyone but me mention Bobo's- or did I miss something.- Their dry aged steaks are, in my opinion better than all other steaks in the city. Plus, at $39.00 they are a good deal compared to the prices at Epic, Bourbon, Morton's, Harris', Ruth's Chris. Sometimes their sides and apps are hit and miss...................but the steaks are GREAT!

                                                        1. re: Saxby

                                                          "One man with courage makes a majority."
                                                          Andrew Jackson

                                                          1. re: Saxby

                                                            Robert mentioned it in his first post under it's longer and harder to spell name Boboquivari's


                                                            1. re: Saxby

                                                              Bobo's filet mignon is now $44 vs. $45 at Epic and $37 (including one side) at Alfred's.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                Bobo's prices are Very new, last time I was there, August 2011- I paid $39.00 for the bone in filet. The average size of the filet at Bobo's is generally bigger than any other filet that I have had in the city or elsewhere. I agree Alfred's and even Izzy's has the better deal that includes a side with each entre, but, I have NEVER had a better tasting steak than the filet and even NY, than the ones served at Bobo's.

                                                                Alfred's has made some changes in recent years to improve the dining experience, $20.00 corkage or, bring one bottle then buy one house wine on their wine list and they waive the corkage. They also have free 3 hour validated parking across the street.

                                                                Bobo's has always had free valet- right in front of the restaurant and a $15.00 corkage fee- which is also a good value.

                                                                I like to watch Check Please Bay Area and enjoyed the reviews of Alfred's, Izzy's and Bobo's- but I think that while all three reviewers liked Alfred's and Izzy's, only two out of three really liked Bobo's steak- one didn't even order the steak and the other woman didn't like sitting close to other dinners.

                                                                I have to get back to Alfred's soon.

                                                          2. Any news of long dry-aging going on around here? I was just reading in Saveur about the chef at Carnevino, the Batali-Bastianich place in Las Vegas, serving a porterhouse that had been aged 260 days. That seems dubious, but I do like six or seven weeks, and haven't been seeing much more than three unless I buy a whole prime rib roast.

                                                            When Tyler Florence reopened El Paseo, he was aging a special Holstein porterhouse for 38 days, but there's no sign of that on the menu today.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              I'vw had three weeks only, but I have not been aggressive in asking for longer aging.

                                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                Seems like something that the Bay Area should have. There are plenty of transplants from areas that appreciate their steaks, so educating customers wouldn't be that much of a challenge. I think we're still a ways away from seeing a 40-day dry aged, bone in filet with classic sides, anywhere.

                                                                It still requires a lot of overhead (less of the meat is usable, longer prep), and the facility/oversight, if you're aging in volume.

                                                              2. Tried Harris' for the first time last Saturday. Wow, what a hopping scene. Dining room (mostly if not all booths) full, lounge full, private room full, back room full. I was happy to be seated in a booth in the dining room though the lounge looked like a lot of fun. There was a live piano trio, they were discreet enough that I didn't realize the music was live for a while.

                                                                They bring out little rusks and a ramekin of creamcheese, cheddar, and port spread, basically Christmas cheese log. That was fun.

                                                                Steamed clams marinière ($15) were simple, excellent, and a large portion, a really good choice for something time-consuming to nibble while drinking a delicious bottle of 2004 Alban Roussanne, which at $77 was a luxury but also a bargain in the sense that the few retailers who have any are charging about that. Two crabcakes ($14) were tasty and good-sized but to my taste a bit rich for the context, and I found the pimeiento a bit too dominant in the mix.

                                                                The bone-in ribeye ($49) was good and cooked properly medium-rare, but Alfred's was larger and I though had more flavor. Included sides, the al dente green beans and julienned carrots were good, I thought the baked potato (we split one steak and they brought us two) was dry and flavorless, probably because I wasn't in the mood to douse it with the traditional boatload of butter, sour cream, and so on, should have gone for the mashed. Creamed spinach ($9) was good, seemed to me on a par with Alfred's, neither uses enough nutmeg for my taste. 2005 Ormes de Pez St.-Estphe was pleasant enough though for $90 I thought it should have had more to offer.

                                                                Warm apple tart ($9) with Calvados (?) ice cream and somes sort of caramel sauce was excellent and another great value.

                                                                So for me, Alfred's is still the champ for a steak dinner, but I might go back to Harris' to explore more of the menu. The prime rib I saw at nearby tables looked really good.