Tadich Grill is my favorite restaurant in the Bay Area. Part of why Tadich is so good is not just the food, it's superb; you know that; it's the consistency. You have a constant going in: the bread is fresh, always fresh; the coffee, the white napkins, the waiters--everything is always the same. I like sitting at the counter. I used to see Herb Caen and Willie Brown at the back table but Caen once told me his favorite seat was the counter. So there. Did I mention the food? My god, heaven on a plate. Greatest sand dabs in the city. Salmon to die for.
Original Joe's is right at the top of the list. In its new reincarnation in North Beach, the place is always packed. The media crowd is thick. If you like Italian, this place is about at good as it gets. In my opinion, Joe's has the BEST burger in the city. It's old-school, patty on grilled sourdough cut in half, (no bun)--and hardly any crap like lettuce and pickles --it's huge and delicious.
John's Grill: Been around for gazillion of years, John's Grill is much like Tadich: consistently good, great food, and old-school en fuego. It's a throwback to the old-fashioned San Francisco eateries--seafood, steaks, and the best iceberg lettuce salad on planet Earth. Another Caen hangout.