The Gold Spike restaurant in San Francisco was another Italian family-style dinner-house in North Beach that was forced to close. The place was part of a large building that wrapped around the block and encompassed many storefronts, including O’Reilly’s Irish Bar & Restaurant and L’Osteria del Forno.
Attilio and Natalina Mechetti, immigrants from Italy’s Tuscany region, opened the joint in 1920 as the Columbus Candy Store and Soda Fountain, although soda was not the only drink served. Prohibition was on, and the Mechettis knew how to treat their customers well.
The Gold Spike featured an uneven floor in the front dining area near the bar as well as business cards and dollar bills plastered all over the walls and ceiling. Even the stuffed moose and marlin were tagged. (more…)
Two of my favorite restaurants that are no longer with us are Capp’s Corner and Caesar’s in San Francisco. Capp’s was established in 1963 and closed in 2015. Formerly at 1600 Powell Street, it sat next to Beach Blanket Babylon. The Italian restaurant was a favorite of not only tourists but cops, barmen, retirees and locals.
No one could greet you better than Seamus Coyle with his Irish way. The dinners were healthy portions with reasonable prices. Remember the tasty tureen of homemade minestrone followed by the kidney bean house salad? Nice way to start a meal. Apparently the long-time Ginella owners were one of the latest victims of the City’s eviction frenzy. Even the praises of Governor Jerry Brown and poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti couldn’t sway the landlord. Sad!
Here are a couple of San Francisco restaurants of yesteryear that I wish were still with us. The Shadows on Telegraph Hill was formerly located at 1349 Montgomery Street. Maybe you couldn’t afford to take your sweetheart to Julius Castle down the street, but at the Shadows a sawbuck would land you a classy dish from their extensive German-Swiss-Continental menu. My date selected hasenpfeffer, a stew made from marinated rabbit. Another patron approached and complained about her eating the “nice, fussy” animal. The chef stormed out of the kitchen and lectured the person on the history of his favorite cuisine. After dinner, we relaxed by the bar in the Swiss chalet room, drinking our sweet-and-sour cocktails while gazing out the picture window to the Bay Bridge and beyond. A romantic adventure led us across the street to the nearby Filbert Steps where I stole a kiss from my date to the background music of wild parrots. (more…)
The Beach Chalet restaurant in San Francisco was established in 1925. My friends and I would use the changing rooms on the ground floor of the Spanish Revival building before venturing across the street to Ocean Beach and the freezing waters of the Pacific. For a special treat, my dad would take us upstairs for a Shirley Temple where another two hundred patrons would be sitting.
The frescoes in the lounge depict a simple and casual life of San Francisco. I was quickly reminded, however, that life during the Great Depression was anything but simple. Those boys at the WPA (Works Project Administration) must have had a sense of humor.
There was nothing funny about what came next. The attack on Pearl Harbor ushered in WWII. Mom was typical of many civilians back then, fearing that the Japanese’s next target would be the West Coast. The Army must have felt the same way, shoring up their defenses around the City. (more…)
The Ramp in San Francisco is one of the few public boat ramps in the City and is a favorite saloon and eatery. Located in China Basin, it opened in 1950 as a bait shop and is still one of those colorful venues that the locals can call their own. You can be yourself here, sharing local maritime lore as well as taking in the industrial sights. Don’t let anyone catch you drinking a Corona from a glass. No, sir, not here. And your mutt won’t be the only critter raising its snout at the mixture of scents. The charcoal aromas of barbecued shrimp and steaks meld with the salty, fishy taste of the waterfront and the sound of sanders buffing out the hull of a yawl nearby. Part of the property has been retooled into the San Francisco Boat Works, the last remaining boat yard in the City.
This is a nice, funky place where one checks the hoity-toity attitude at the door and enjoys al fresco dining under the collection of mismatched umbrellas. (more…)
Stumptown Daze, a 1960 romance comedy novel, starts on the east side of Telegraph Hill near Julius Castle.
In 1924, less than a year after construction on the Castle began, food service was under way, establishing Julius Castle as among the oldest San Francisco restaurants at its original location with its original name.
This amazing structure combines fairy tale elements, such as pointed arched windows and medieval-style battlements on the upper balconies, all mixed with Gothic Revival and Arts-and-Crafts influences. Interior wood paneling was reputedly purchased from the city’s 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. (more…)