City That Never Sleeps

Globe dishes out superior, lusty fare until the late-for-S.F. hour of 1 a.m.

The first time I went to Globe, it was by accident. The San Francisco Film Society screening of Match Point at the Embarcadero started half an hour later than I thought it was supposed to, and the movie was preceded by an unexpected round of short speeches and a trivia contest. (I'm still burned I wasn't called on to name three films directed by Woody Allen that he didn't also star in. Four immediately popped into my head, and I so would have won -- if I'd managed not to blurt out Anything Else, which was the last one on my list anyway.) Match Point's running time is over two hours -- a lot longer than Woody's early funny ones -- so as we watched I saw the possibility of dinner at my original choice, a French place halfway across town, grow dimmer and less appealing. I thought of Globe, blessedly just a few blocks away, and its relatively late hours.

I say "relatively" because the kitchen takes orders until 1 a.m. (11:30 p.m. on Sunday), and you can drink until 2. San Francisco, despite its cosmopolitan facade, is something of a desert if you want to eat well in the wee hours -- and by well I mean something more ambitious than burritos or diner/coffee shop fare under harsh fluorescent light. (And by diner/coffee shop fare, I mean, alas, mediocre diner/coffee shop fare, in the few places open 24/7. I would kill for a 24-hour delicatessen that served good pastrami, corned beef, and brisket, but so far I haven't found one that even serves good pastrami, corned beef, and brisket during regular hours.) When my friends and I exit a play, concert, or movie around 11, hungry for something tasty and not too far away, a brief discussion usually ends up with us heading to Yuet Lee for salt-and-pepper fried shrimp and sautéed squid, forgetting it's cash-only, and making a run to the ATM across the street.

The last time I'd tried to go to Globe, the place was unexpectedly closed due to some damn holiday or other, and we ended up yet again at Yuet Lee. But on this chilly midweek night, when Hilary and I show up without reservations, we're greeted with alacrity and immediately shown to a table for two, from which we can see the entire dimly lit, crowded, and noisy place: the open kitchen at one end, the compact zinc-topped bar near the entrance, the wooden floor and exposed-brick walls hung with a few big paintings. The décor seems generic, but not so the one-page menu, which lists, in slightly eccentric order, nine appetizers, six sides, nine entrees, and four pizzas. Our slightly eccentric hungers lead us to bypass the entrees and choose two starters each, augmented by a vegetable side.

Global Warming: The décor is generic, yet 
the food is anything but.
James Sanders
Global Warming: The décor is generic, yet the food is anything but.

Location Info



290 Pacific
San Francisco, CA 94111

Category: Restaurant > California

Region: Embarcadero


Pork sausage in iron skillet $8

Grilled lamb riblettes $11

Pizza with soppressata and eggs $14

Baker's dozen oysters $23

Nettles linguine $16

Monkfish with clams and mussels in broth $23

Pork "porterhouse" $23


Open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and for dinner from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.; open Saturday for dinner from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday until 11:30 p.m.

Reservations accepted

Bathrooms not wheelchair accessible

Parking: difficult

Muni: 10, 12

Noise level: high

290 Pacific (at Battery)

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Hilary's Chioggia beets "cold cut style" (i.e., thinly sliced rather than in chunks) are strewn with a mint chiffonade and crumbles of goat cheese, which I would like more of. My salad lardon, a massive bowl of curly, chewy frisée, is laden with a warm vinaigrette so full of bacon hunks (as well as two cold poached eggs) that finishing all of it would also finish my appetite. We continue with a lusty, garlicky, homemade pork link sausage -- whose spiral fills the iron skillet in which it's cooked and brought to the table -- and a plate of rarely seen grilled lamb riblettes, satisfying little bones laden with crusty meat and fat paired with strands of sharp pickled fennel. We also enjoy a dish of Mariquita Farm broccoli de cicco, the sturdy green quickly sautéed with garlic. Not only are we fond of the deeply flavorful, rustic yet sophisticated food, but it's also fun to be surrounded by a roomful of happy diners enjoying a good meal after midnight.

Before I return to Globe, I make a hopeful stab at discovering additional places for late-night dining. One rainy evening, after an unsettling double bill of Crime Without Passion and The Scoundrel at the beautifully programmed Noir City film festival, the Brazen Head (3166 Buchanan, 921-7600) seems perfect, both because of its proximity to the Palace of Fine Arts and because of its ever so slightly seedy dining room -- dark, low ceilinged, wood paneled, dominated by a long bar. We're in the mood for meat and Manhattans. I go straight for the place's specialty, pepper steak; its ingredients, including cream and brandy, remind me of a long-ago Steak Diane I used to love at a vanished frog pond. Jeremy chooses a portobello-topped filet mignon when the special rack of lamb proves unavailable. My steak is not the best cut of meat and its sauce disappoints; Jeremy is happier with his steak, but "[i]t's like the talking dog," I say. "It isn't what he says -- it's that he talks at all. This is what you're reduced to after midnight." A better meal would have drawn us back, but after the next double bill, of films by Naruse at the PFA, we head for Original Joe's (144 Taylor, 775-4877), whose Tenderloin location is out of a Pat O'Brien fever dream and whose too-brightly-lit, high-ceilinged, leather-boothed, Formica-tabled '40s décor is noir itself. Tradition leads me to the Original Joe's special, a tasty heap of sautéed ground chuck, spinach, onions, and (very little) egg that would easily feed two hungry people or three of normal appetites, for $9.95. Jeremy's veal piccata, swimming in oil and topped with lots of capers, is made with what a butcher would disparagingly call "baby beef"; his side of soft, precooked spaghetti is in a meat sauce harsh with dried oregano and garlic powder. But we spy a plate of fat grilled lamb chops on another table that look pretty swell.

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