An Elegant ‘Brasserie’ Decor and Traditional Foods, a Winning Combination?

As far as decor is concerned John’s has it correctly balanced. As daylight shines through the street side windows, forming strong beams on to the oak lined walls, the walls themselves covered with autographed photos of stars from the past…I get a flashback to the Hemmingway bar at the Ritz in Paris. Historic, authentic and friendly. Not in anyway ‘too’ modern or avant-garde, the ‘Retro-brasserie’ style of John’s grill is strangely, a breath of fresh air in San Francisco.

It is not possible to get bored by the eateries of San Francisco. That being said, it is not surprising that many visitors are pleasantly surprised at John’s.

The reason is very simple; the menu consists of steaks (rib-eye, prime T-bone, prime Porterhouse and the famously thick prime ‘bone-in’ John’s steak and other meats such as filet Mignon or Chicken Jerusalem). Fresh fish and seafood, (chowder, mussels, lobster, prawns, seabass, swordfish and red snapper) as well as pasta dishes and a variety of fun dishes which are based around the story of ‘The Maltese Falcon’ like Sam ‘Spade’s lamb chops’… (The book by Dashiell Hammet mentions John’s grill and many scenes are based here.)

A feel of real wood finishing, real table clothes and napkins, a darker, yet not dingy atmosphere means depth, a certain notoriety and a feeling of being in a classic landmark of San Francisco, this extends to all 3 floors of this large restaurant. The 1st and main floor however, remains cosy, and by far the best place to be seated. The upper floors being less personal and more open.

The waiters are dressed as they would have been decades ago, and surrounded by a clientele of businessmen as well as locals here to eat what they describe as ‘real food, ‘slow food, not fast food’, ‘the best food’, ‘top class and so fresh’ all add to the experience.

The extensive wine list (Californian) is joined by French champagne and a good by the glass list is available…try the Pinot Noir, Castle Rock, Sonoma 2005 by the glass.

John’s is a great place to take the family, or to be with friends or even to spend a romantic evening for two.
Prices depend on what you order, but you can budget for 30 to 40 dollars per head, including drinks. (plus tax). Real value for the excellent cuisine and service at John’s.

Many cocktails are available, as well as 7 draught beers.
Also, try the specialty house drink. “Bloody Brigid” so named by the Californian historical society. (sweet & sour, vodka, soda, special mix, lime and grenadine over crushed ice with souvenir glass) $7.95

For more information, please visit

John’s Grill.
63 Ellis Street
between Stockton and Powell
San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. great article!
    do you have any additional pictures of the interior which you can post?

  2. I happened to go to this restaurant for lunch last winter. had heard lots of great things about it so I decided to check it out. The food quality was great!

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