Best Retro Dining Without Irony - 2002
Joe's of Westlake
There are plenty of things about this place to love -- from the fish tanks to the leatherette -- but what truly warms our hearts is that Joe's is the real deal, serving diners since 1959. And in a city of retro posers, being the real deal is enough to earn our undying respect and regular business. Many of the waiters and patrons have been coming in the door for decades (virtually every West Side politician in San Francisco has frequented the place, along with the late Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey and enough retired cops to fill, well, the bar). For anyone old enough to remember The Brady Bunch in prime time, Joe's is a flashback to every Mother's Day/birthday/anniversary dinner out with the folks. The menu, like the décor, is classic: steak, veal, chicken, and pasta. It's reliably good, without anything too fancy -- most entrees are under $15. We suggest a Thursday or Friday night for the optimum experience. You'll have to wait, which is fine, because the piano bar is not to be missed. It's hard to find a more genuine cocktail lounge -- complete with little tables and swivel chairs -- even in the city that loves retro.